By Josh Wingrove
Donald Trump said Wednesday that he’ll change the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. tires on the presidential limousine after calling for a boycott against the company for allegedly banning his trademark MAGA hats at its workplaces.
“I would swap them out based on what I heard,” Trump said of the tires on the bullet-proof limousine, known as The Beast. “We’ll see what happens.”
Earlier in the day, the president demanded a boycott of Goodyear after an image circulated on social media that appeared to show an employee training session deeming Trump campaign apparel “unacceptable” for the workplace.
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!).
Shares of Akron, Ohio-based Goodyear fell as much as 6% shortly after Trump’s tweet. The stock pared losses later in the day and closed down about 2% at $9.50.
The image appears to show an employee training session addressing appropriate attire. Examples of “acceptable” attire or messaging included “Black Lives Matter” and LGBT statements, while “unacceptable” messaging included “MAGA Attire,” referring to Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan.
Goodyear said in a statement that the “visual in question was not created or distributed by Goodyear corporate, nor was it part of a diversity training class.” The statement didn’t explain the origin of the image.
To maintain a work environment free of harassment and discrimination, according to the statement, Goodyear asks “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.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s re-election challenger, said that the president had placed his own grievances above the welfare of Goodyear’s workers.
“Goodyear employs thousands of American workers, including in Ohio where it is headquartered,” Biden said in a statement. “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.”
In a briefing Wednesday before Trump’s news conference, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the company failed to clarify its policy in the statement, pointing out that the image also labeled as unacceptable “Blue Lives Matter” -- an expression in support of police that is used in opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement.
“They came out and said equity issues,” McEnany said. “As far as I’m concerned, Blue Lives Matter is an equity issue.”
Senator Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, slammed Trump for his tweet. “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.
Goodyear tires have been seen on a range of government vehicles, including the presidential limousine and others maintained by the U.S. Secret Service.
Titan International, Inc. responds to Trump’s suggested Goodyear boycott
Titan International, Inc., manufacturer of Titan Tires, Titan Wheels and Goodyear Farm Tires, is responding after Wednesday’s reports focused on Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company’s alleged diversity training document that gained nationwide attention.
“Wednesday morning, we learned of the news being shared about Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company’s reported diversity training and felt it was important to make clear that Titan is in no way connected to the training in question,” said Titan CEO, Paul Reitz. “While Titan has licensing rights to design, produce and sell the Goodyear Farm Tires brand, we are an entirely separate publicly held entity under separate management and have no shared staff or facilities with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.”
President Trump has repeatedly expressed support for U.S. manufacturers through his “Buy America” campaign. Titan has invested in legal action to protect American manufacturing jobs. In 2017, Titan won a favorable 5-0 ruling from the ITC fighting back against the unfair trade practices from India and Sri Lanka related to off-road tires. In this respect, President Trump and Titan are well-aligned in protecting the more than 2,100 hard-working Americans employed by Titan in multiple manufacturing facilities across Illinois, Iowa, Ohio and Tennessee who build Goodyear Farm Tires, along with Titan Wheels and Titan Tires.
Titan has also played a vital role as an essential service during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. When others shut down, Titan ensured safe operation to keep America’s vital workforce working with the equipment they need to do their jobs.
“One of our primary concerns as a manufacturer is the safety of our employees. Titan is proud of the important role we play in our nation’s critical infrastructure during the COVID-19 pandemic, as our plants have continued to operate safely in support of the farming and construction industries,” said Reitz.
“Titan has a diverse workforce throughout all of our locations in the U.S. that build some of the world’s best agriculture, construction, and forestry wheels and tires. While at work, we believe our employees should be focused on operating safely and manufacturing high-quality products, and therefore employees are allowed to wear what they would like as long as it meets safety standards and isn’t offensive,” said Reitz. “Our employees take tremendous pride in our products and we welcome any politician, customer, farmer, construction operator, or just curious folks that would like to see how we operate and meet the fine men and women that we employ.”
Titan and Goodyear Farm Tires are sold at nearly 2,000 local tire dealers across the country. And a misguided movement to cancel Goodyear Farm Tires — manufactured and sold by a completely separate company from Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company — could adversely affect thousands of additional hard-working family-owned tire businesses across the country.