Public Criticism for Public Strategies

Human rights and labor activists protested outside the Washington DC offices of Public Strategies, Inc., claiming that the public relations firm helps the Bridgestone / Firestone Tire Company "deflect attention away from the company's long history of exploiting workers and the environment on its rubber plantation in Liberia." The protest comes shortly after the publication of a report from a Liberian-based organization that alleges that Firestone works with "former President [Charles] Taylor's Anti-Terrorist Unit and other militia forces ... to curb illicit tapping. Some members of this group are allegedly harassing and torturing community members in the name of curbing illicit tapping" of rubber trees. The report also faults Firestone for paying low wages and placing unreasonable quotas on its Liberian workers, among other problems. The head of the Firestone Agricultural Workers' Union of Liberia said there are "ongoing union-management contract negotiations" to address "issues relating to work quota, and also issues relating to occupational health and safety, issues relating to education as well as issues relating to salaries and wages."