Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania -Â Workers in Liberia are celebrating â€œA new day on the Firestone Plantation,â€ following an election to choose union leadership to represent them in contract talks with Bridgestone/Firestone (BFS). The election was a milestone because for the first time in 80 years, workers elected their own union representatives.
The USW, which represents BFS workers in the US and Canada, has been supporting the company's Liberian employees for the past two years with training programs, workshops and education. USW local unions have taken gate collections to support workers who have gone on strike against BFS in Liberia. The union's involvement there began when USW International Vice President Fred Redmond led a fact-finding mission there in 2005.
All eight elected union positions were won by militant activists who had participated in training by the USW and had led wildcat strikes over the past two years.
â€œThe Steelworkers union will continue to stand squarely behind the workers at Firestone in Liberia,â€ USW International President Leo Gerard said. â€œWe have a moral obligation to uplift the lives of people living in poverty conditions not seen in the Northern Hemisphere in the last 100 years.â€
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Press release from USW