- Black Lives Matter and LGBT+ Pride are in but political support is out.
President Donald Trump has urged Americans not to buy Goodyear tires after the company made it clear employees can’t wear Make America Great Again merchandise.
The company policy allows employees to wear ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘LGBT+ Pride’ merchandise. However ‘Blue Lives Matter’, ‘All Lives Matter’, ‘MAGA attire’ and other ‘political slogans’ are unacceptable’.
In response, Trump tweeted: ‘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!)’
However – the story isn’t quite what it seems.
The story emerged after NBC affiliate WIBW showed what looked like a powerpoint slide explaining its ‘zero tolerance’ policy to employees.
The employee who gave WIBW the slide claims the policy is discriminatory.
The slide claimed to be from a diversity training session at Goodyear’s plant in Topeka, Kansas.
And it listed items in two columns – ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ – with LGBT+ and BLM in the ‘acceptable’ group and Trump’s MAGA slogan in the ‘unacceptable’.
What really happened at Goodyear
In fact, Goodyear later claimed they hadn’t created the slide and it hadn’t been used in the training session.
However, audio later emerged from the session. In it an unnamed speaker explains Goodyear allows people to show solidarity with ‘racial justice and equity issues’. However it bans political items for any political party:
‘Some people may wish to express their views on social justice or inequity or equity issues such as black lives matter or LGBTQ pride on their face coverings, shirts or wristbands.
‘That will be deemed approved because it applies with a zero-tolerance stance. However if any associate wears all blue, “White Lives Matter” shirts or face coverings, that will be not appropriate.’
Notably, the speaker doesn’t specifically mention Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan.
But he adds: ‘Democrat. Republican. Trump. Biden. Sanders. Whatever. That will no longer be allowed in the plant.’
Is there a cost to Trump’s boycott call?
Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company is based in Akron, Ohio and employs around 64,000 people.
With revenue of over $15billion in 2017, it is the only US company among the world’s four big tire companies. Bridgestone is based in Japan, Michelin in France and Continental in Germany.
Indeed, Goodyear’s stock declined by over 3% following Trump’s attack, although it bounced back slightly later in the day.
Against this backdrop, Trump’s call for a boycott seems strange in an election year.
Moreover, Ohio is a swing state worth a fairly large number of 18 electoral college votes. In 2016, it went to Trump but it’s now a toss-up with his rival Joe Biden narrowly ahead.
Goodyear has now issued a lengthy statement to clarify the slide and its position. It says:
‘The visual in question was not created or distributed by Goodyear corporate nor was it part of a diversity training class.
‘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 equality issues.’
Meanwhile it also addressed the idea that some people say the slide made them feel the company is ‘anti-police’.
It said it ‘wholeheartedly supported both equality and law enforcement’. And it added that ‘these are not mutually exclusive’.