September 7, 2020 Press Release
Contact: Terry Collingsworth, Executive Director
firstname.lastname@example.org 1-202-543-5811 @tpcollingsworth
Today is Labor Day in the U.S., but five of the biggest and most famous U.S. companies continue to profit from cobalt mines in the DRC that use children as miners, and they are routinely killed or maimed. IRAdvocates has a pending federal class action lawsuit on behalf of 14 Doe Plaintiffs who are either guardians of children killed in tunnel or wall collapses while mining cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo (“DRC”) or children who were maimed in such accidents. The lawsuit names Apple, Alphabet (Google), Dell, Microsoft, and Tesla as Defendants. Plaintiffs have evidence that these companies in particular aided and abetted suppliers Glencore and Huayou Cobalt, which profit from forcing Plaintiffs and other children to mine cobalt under conditions that led to their deaths or serious, crippling injuries. The DRC has the world’s largest deposits of cobalt, an essential element of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that are in all products made by the tech and electric car companies. The tech boom has caused an explosion in demand for cobalt, but in one of the most extreme contrasts imaginable, cobalt is mined in the DRC under extremely dangerous stone age conditions by children paid a dollar or two a day to supply cobalt for some of the richest companies in the world.
Rather than use their vast wealth and power to fix the problem, clean up their supply chains, and help the families they have devastated, Apple, Alphabet (Google), Dell, Microsoft, and Tesla filed a joint motion to dismiss the case, raising various tenuous legal arguments to claim they can’t be legally responsible for how their cobalt is mined. The companies essentially claim to be too far removed from the cobalt that is an essential mineral in their devices. This should come as a major surprise to anyone who has looked at the companies’ websites, where they claim to have complete control of all aspects of their supply chains and where they each pledge to have “policies” that prevent their suppliers from using child labor. The maimed or killed children that IRAdvocates represents would beg to differ. The Amended Complaint and the companies’ joint response are available below.
On behalf of the child miners, the lawsuit demands that the companies pay reparations and fund rehabilitation and education programs for the families of child miners killed or maimed by the horrific conditions in the cobalt mines. Apple, Alphabet (Google), Dell, Microsoft, and Tesla are among the wealthiest and most powerful companies in the world. These companies purport to be green and futuristic, but their products are Powered by Blood Cobalt. Consumers buying these products should demand that the companies fix their supply chain rather than spend years fighting in court to avoid responsibility for the Blood Cobalt their products currently use to operate.
On this Labor Day, IRAdvocates calls upon all concerned organizations and individuals to contact the companies and demand that they stop killing and maiming children. These companies boast of their creativity and market prowess. They must use their skills, wealth and power to help these children and their families.
Apple: Submit a question at investor.apple.com/contact/default.aspx (Apple Investor Relations) OR tweet @AppleSupport, @tim_cook (Apple CEO), and @lisapjackson (Apple VP of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives)
Alphabet (Google): Email email@example.com (Alphabet press) OR tweet @Google, @sundarpichai (Alphabet CEO), and @KateEBrandt (Google Sustainability Officer)
Dell: Email firstname.lastname@example.org OR tweet @DellCares, @MichaelDell (Dell CEO), and @cpfrasercsr (Dell Chief Responsibility Officer)
Microsoft: Email email@example.com (Microsoft Investor Relations) OR tweet @MicrosoftHelps, @satyanadella (Microsoft CEO), and @shelleymckin (Microsoft VP of Technology and Social Responsibility)
Tesla: Submit a question at www.tesla.com/contact/about and ir.tesla.com/corporate-governance/contact-the-board (Tesla Investor Relations) OR
tweet @Tesla and @ElonMusk (Tesla CEO)