Goodyear Tires caved to pressure from President Trump and announced Thursday the company will now allow workers to wear pro-police messages on clothing in the workplace, a reversal from just twenty-four hours ago when it issued a defiant statement that it would only allow Black Lives Matter and LGBT messages (“racial justice and equity issues”).
Goodyear Chairman Rich Kramer released a statement that said in part, “We have clarified our policy to make it clear associates can express support for law enforcement through apparel at Goodyear facilities.”
The controversy erupted this week when a screen image from a Topeka tire plant worker training session was posted online that showed what kind of messages are allowed at work and what messages are not allowed. Black Lives Matter and LGBT messages were specifically allowed, but Blue Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, MAGA or other political expressions or material were not allowed.
In a tweet and at a press conference Wednesday afternoon, President Trump called out Goodyear:
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Don’t buy GOODYEAR TIRES – They announced a BAN ON MAGA HATS. Get better tires for far less! (This is what the Radical Left Democrats do. Two can play the same game, and we have to start playing it now!).
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2020
President Trump: I’m not happy with Goodyear. They’re playing politics. pic.twitter.com/IPoEf8FGLC
— Wojciech Pawelczyk (@Woj_Pawelczyk) August 19, 2020
Q Mr. President, I want to ask you about your tweet earlier today on Goodyear. It was essentially calling for a boycott on Goodyear tires.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
Are you going to boycott Goodyear?
99% (147 Votes)
1% (2 Votes)
Q Do you want the federal government to stop buying and using Goodyear product as well? And is there anything —
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’m not happy with Goodyear because what they’re doing is playing politics. And the funny thing is the people that work for a Goodyear — I can guarantee you I poll very well with all of those great workers in Goodyear. And when they say that you can’t have “Blue Lives Matter,” you can’t show a blue line, you can’t wear a MAGA hat, but you can have other things that are Marxist in nature, there’s something wrong with the top of Goodyear. And what the radical left does is they make it impossible for people to do business if they’re Republican or if they’re conservative. They put out all sorts of effort: “Don’t shop there.” They do vicious things, not so different than what you saw on the streets of Portland two nights ago.
Q But what kind of boycott do you envision?
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I don’t know. That’s up to people. But I wouldn’t recommend it. If they — if they want to hold political speech, if they want to let you not do what everybody is doing; if they want to wear a MAGA hat or if they want to wear a “Blue Lives…” You know what “Blue Lives Matter,” right? That’s policemen and women. That’s a terrible thing. That’s a terrible thing. So they’re using their power over these people, and these people want to wear whatever it is that we’re talking about. You know that. And so I would be very much in favor if people 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, as you know. The most jobs ever in the history of our country. You’ll be able to get another good jobs. I think it’s disgraceful that they did this.
…Q Can I follow on something, Mr. President? On the Goodyear issue: You ride on Goodyear tires —
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
Q — in the presidential limousine.
THE PRESIDENT: Correct.
Q If there were an alternative, would you want those tires swapped out?
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, I would do that. I would — I would swap them out, based on what I heard. We’ll see what happens. Hey, look, you’re going to have a lot of people not wanting to buy that product anymore, and they’ll buy from a competitor — made in the USA, too. Okay?
An audio recording from the Topeka session was publicized Wednesday night that confirmed the policy.
Goodyear released a lawerly statement earlier Wednesday trying to tamp down the controversy, but ended up confirming the anti-police bias in the workplace.
AKRON, Ohio, August 19, 2020 – A Message from Goodyear to Our Customers, Partners and Associates:
Yesterday, Goodyear became the focus of a conversation that created some misconceptions about our policies and our company. For those not aware, a widely circulated image sparked a strong reaction, and we wanted to take the opportunity to provide some important context to the visual and our policies.
First, the visual in question was not created or distributed by Goodyear corporate, nor was it part of a diversity training class. To be clear on our longstanding corporate policy, Goodyear has zero tolerance for any forms of harassment or discrimination. To enable a work environment free of those, we ask that associates 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.
Second, we appreciate the diverse viewpoints of all of our more than 60,000 associates, which are at the heart of many of the policies we establish. Fostering an inclusive, respectful workplace is important to establish teamwork and build culture, which is another reason we ask associates not to engage in political campaigning of any kind in the workplace – for any candidate, party or political organization.
Third and finally, Goodyear has always wholeheartedly supported both equality and law enforcement and will continue to do so. These are not mutually exclusive. We have heard from some of you that believe Goodyear is anti-police after reacting to the visual. Nothing could be further from the truth, and we have the utmost appreciation for the vital work police do on behalf of our shared communities. This can’t be said strongly enough.
Thursday afternoon Goodyear Chairman, CEO and President Rich Kramer released another lawerly statement that buried the policy change to the fifth paragraph:
“…We have clarified our policy to make it clear associates can express support for law enforcement through apparel at Goodyear facilities…”
A message from Rich Kramer: By now, you are aware of a visual from our Topeka factory that has been circulating in the media. I want to personally clear the record on what you are seeing and hearing. pic.twitter.com/UqqFeFQn6t
— Goodyear (@goodyear) August 20, 2020
This statement, like yesterday’s statement posted to Twitter, was closed off from replies by Goodyear.
Yesterday, Goodyear became 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. pic.twitter.com/oO6jUg2rTR
— Goodyear (@goodyear) August 19, 2020
Reporters thought they had Trump in a trap today.
Despite President Trump’s call to boycott the company, the tires on the Beast in the motorcade are still Goodyear. This was taken at JBA before departure. We’re now wheels down in Scranton, Pennsylvania. What brand are those wheels, you ask? Also Goodyear. pic.twitter.com/xTHQBbYzAj
— Monica Alba (@albamonica) August 20, 2020
Joe Biden issued a statement Wednesday night defending Goodyear–but not police.
— Eli Stokols (@EliStokols) August 19, 2020