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The Firestone Rubber Factory in Liberia

The Firestone Tire and Rubber Company has operated the world’s largest rubber plantation in Harbel, Liberia, for more than 80 years. Firestone workers must tap trees to extract the latex necessary for making rubber tires. The rubber tappers must meet a daily production quota or their already low wages will be halved. By Firestone Natural Rubber Company CEO Dan Adomitis’s own admission on CNN, it would take more than 21 hours to meet the quota. As a result, tappers are forced to bring their children and wives to work. Children are forced to carry two 70-pound buckets of rubber on their shoulders for miles. In addition, tappers and their children must apply toxic pesticides without protection.

Boy pouring latex

A young boy pours latex from a bucket. Photo courtesy of International Labor Rights Fund.

Firestone workers live in cramped shacks that have not been renovated since the 1920s and lack electricity, running water and indoor latrines. Education and health facilities are understaffed and lack resources and are often located much too far from housing units for workers and their families to access. Additionally, Firestone uses the labor of a large number of subcontractors who are not offered benefits. Historically, Firestone has negotiated with a union that is not democratic or independent from the management, according to information compiled by the International Labor Rights Fund. In July 2007, the first free and fair union elections were held in the plantation’s history, but Firestone is currently refusing to meet with the first democratically elected union leadership.
The AFT is working with its partners on the Child Labor Coalition, especially with the assistance of the International Labor Rights Forum, to raise awareness about this issue and to take action. You can take action, too:

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