PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — Ohio leaders are lashing out at President Trump, after he called for a boycott of Goodyear tires.
On Wednesday, President Trump urged people to boycott tires from Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., tweeting that the Ohio-based company had “announced a BAN ON MAGA HATS.”
But the company didn’t announce such a specific ban, only that it asks employees to refrain from workplace expressions involving political campaigns and “forms of advocacy that fall outside the scope of racial justice and equity issues.” “Make America Great Again,” or “MAGA,” is a Trump campaign slogan.
Trump’s tweet immediately sent the company’s stock downward. The stock trimmed its losses in the afternoon before closing down about 2.4% for the day.
It didn’t take Ohio leaders long to respond to the president.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan issued a two-part statement on Twitter, starting with a reply to President Trump: “First, you came to destroy American decency. Next, you came to destroy American institutions. Now you’re coming to destroy the American economy and heartland jobs. Luckily you seem to fail at everything you do.”
The response included a gif of Akron-native LeBron James.
First, you came to destroy American decency. Next, you came to destroy American institutions. Now you're coming to destroy the American economy and heartland jobs. Luckily you seem to fail at everything you do. pic.twitter.com/zzVJ9X0ap4
— City of Akron, Ohio (@AkronOhioMayor) August 19, 2020
Horrigan also posted a statement of support for Goodyear. “Goodyear has believed in this community for generations, investing in the power, tenacity, and honest people of the heartland, which is more than we can say for this president. #WeStandWithGoodyear”
Goodyear has believed in this community for generations, investing in the power, tenacity and honest people of the heartland, which is more than we can say for this president. #WeStandWithGoodyear pic.twitter.com/0bM8Xax018
— City of Akron, Ohio (@AkronOhioMayor) August 19, 2020
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) also weighed in on the president’s remarks, tweeting, “It’s absolutely despicable that the President would call for a boycott of an American company, based in Akron, that employs thousands of U.S. workers,” Brown wrote. Keep in mind, this is a President who spent years making his own Trump-branded products overseas. He failed to stand up for workers in Lordstown, and now he betrays the workers in Akron.”
It’s absolutely despicable that the President would call for a boycott of an American company, based in Akron, that employs thousands of U.S. workers. https://t.co/0wI5CT1zjG
— Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) August 19, 2020
Trump’s tweet followed a report from WIBW television station in Topeka, Kansas, based on an anonymous Goodyear employee’s screenshot that listed Black Lives Matter and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride messages as acceptable while politically affiliated slogans and material, including “MAGA Attire” and “Blue Lives Matter,” in support of police, were listed as unacceptable. The screenshot was described in the report as part of the company’s diversity training.
Trump’s tweet provided steam for critics on social media who had earlier started #boycottgoodyear on Twitter.
Goodyear responded to Trump with a tweet of its own, saying that the company was the focus of a conversation that “created some misconceptions about our policies and our company. Goodyear has always wholeheartedly supported both equality and law enforcement and will continue to do so.”
The company said the material captured in the screenshot was not created or distributed by the company’s corporate offices or part of a diversity training class. It also stressed that it does ask its workers to “refrain from workplace expressions in support of political campaigning for any candidate or political party, as well as similar forms of advocacy that fall outside the scope of racial justice and equity issues.”
It’s not unusual for companies to discourage employees from engaging in political activity at the workplace through their electronic communications and dress code.
Trump’s presidential limousine, referred to as “The Beast,” uses Goodyear tires.
“I would swap them out, based on what I heard. We’ll see what happens,” Trump said, when asked about Goodyear in a evening press briefing. “Look, you’re going to have a lot of people not wanting to buy that product anymore.”
Goodyear has a more than 120-year history in Ohio, a battleground state in the presidential election. Most of its competition is headquartered outside the United States.
Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, said Trump had promised to bring manufacturing jobs back to Ohio, but instead was jeopardizing them.
“Goodyear employs thousands of American workers, including in Ohio, where it is headquartered. To President Trump, those workers and their jobs aren’t a source of pride, just collateral damage in yet another one of his political attacks,” Biden said.
Presidents have at times used the bully pulpit to go after companies, but Trump has taken that opportunity to an elevated level, often with little or no pushback from GOP lawmakers.
In Akron, the latest jobs numbers put the unemployment rate at 11.1%. Trump’s comments are sure to grab the attention of Goodyear’s workers there.
“They’re using their power over these people, and these people want to wear whatever it is that we’re talking about,” Trump said of Goodyear’s leadership. “And so I would be very much in favor of people who don’t want to buy there. And you know what? They’ll be able to get a good job because we set a jobs record over the last quarter. …You’ll be able to get another good job.”
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