Playoff Problems: Super Bowl Sponsor Under Fire For Human Rights Violations

It’s football time in America.

The NFL Playoffs have just begun. And that means that we are already seeing commercials for the Super Bowl half-time show- slated to be one of the most explosive ever with a once in a lifetime appearance by The Who.

For some viewers, however, the Bridgestone Halftime Show represents the celebration of a company that has spent the last several decades exploiting the workers and the surrounding natural environment around its rubber plantations in Liberia.

The LA Times reported:

“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.”

While it may appear inconsequential to some Americans, there’s no disputing the fact that the Super Bowl half time show is an unrivaled opportunity for companies to share their branding with the world, and some feel that the NFL’s willingness to provide such a platform for a company who’s name has been associated with environmental and child labor violations in the past should be reconsidered.

Human rights organizations have been monitoring worker living conditions at the Harbel plantation and found that workers were found to be living in crowded shacks with no access to electricity, running water or indoor latrines, and forced to meet labor quotas that required them to work long hours every day.

But their suffering may be coming to its end.

The Working Families Network (WFN) reports that, “after a long struggle, workers finally held the first free and fair union election and signed their first contract negotiated by a democratically elected and independent union leadership in August 2008. The agreement was a major step forward in the long struggle of workers to protect their rights. However, since the time the agreement was signed, Firestone management has failed to implement many of the important improvements in the new contract.”

It might be that the NFL was not aware of the violations of which Firestone has been accused of in the past. It might also be that they knew but hoped that the company would respect the victory of the plantation workers and hold up their end of the agreement.

However, many believe that the NFL should not allow the company to retain this high profile position while they are suspected of such atrocities.

The WFN is asking concerned football fans to send a message telling Bridgestone Americas CEO Marke Emkes that he must immediately implement commitments in the contract and tell NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that the NFL should not renew its contract with Bridgestone Firestone until the company respects its workers.

For more information about the Stop Firestone campaign, please visit

For more information about the struggle of workers on the Firestone plantation to form a democratic and independent union, check out this video.

Image Credit: ©2009 ESPN Internet Ventures


Leanne B.
Leanne B7 years ago

Sorry folks but I just want it to end an is it Nascar time yet...Thanks for the post!

Leia P.
Leia P.7 years ago


Terry B.
Terry B7 years ago

Anybody watching the so-called super bowl has entirely too much time on their hands, anyway, and too little substance between their ears.

Watching the world's most boring game (well, there's golf) played by two groups of millionaire druggies is not my idea of a noteworthy weekend.

Why single out Bridgestone? Have any of the complainers bought anything made in Communist China, the world's foremost violators of anything decent, human and other animal rights included?

Ellen Mcclamrock
Ellen Mcclamrock7 years ago

Bridgestone should be dropped, but doubt it will be. Money is what they want

Maria Albanese
Maria Albanese7 years ago

I still after all these years don't understand why they make so much's almost criminal. I think they should make the money they are worth and not get taken advantage of, while the owners rake in the profits from their cushy desks but...

Meg F.
Margaret F7 years ago

I hate the power that society has given money.

Heather B.
Past Member 7 years ago

Yes, Bridgestone should be dropped. Thanks for letting us know about this, Beth. Letter sent.

Mervi R.
Mervi R7 years ago

Bridgestone should be dropped, but doubt it will be, since money always talks...

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W7 years ago

That's not ethical. Perhaps if Bridgestone's executives swapped roles with their African workers for some time, they'd change the company's policy.

gerlinde p.
gerlinde p7 years ago

most corporations producing violate diverse rights, i had a very long list of manufacturers that exploit their workers,on my old pc. unfortunately it got hacked and i haven`t been able to find the list again. anyway, if they let vick in again,i`m sure they`re not too concerned about firestone.