Is the NFL on the right team? - Los Angeles Times: The rubber business has historically been horrific for African workers, known as tappers, who collect sap from rubber trees on plantations south of the Sahara. The labor practices of the Firestone Natural Rubber Co., a subsidiary of Bridgestone/Firestone, in Liberia seem in keeping with this history.
For 81 years, the company has operated a plantation in Harbel, a company town in the truest sense. Its very name comes from founder Harvey Firestone and his wife, Idabelle. The town received its name after Firestone signed a 99-year lease with the Liberian government in 1926 that gave his company access to 1 million acres of land on which rubber trees grow. The sap -- known as latex -- collected on the plantation is shipped to the Bridgestone/Firestone plant in Nashville, where it is used to make tires, among other goods.