President Donald Trump called on his supporters Wednesday to boycott Goodyear tires after a Topeka TV station reported that Trump’s MAGA gear was banned from the company’s local tire plant.
“Don’t buy GOODYEAR TIRES,” the president tweeted to his supporters on Twitter. “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!).”
The tweet came as a surprise to Goodyear workers, said Jody Juarez, president of Steelworkers Local 307, which represents line workers at the Topeka plant.
“They don’t allow political anything,” Juarez said. “It’s always been that way. I’ve worked there for 35 years. Most employers don’t allow you to wear political stuff to work.”
The plant employs about 1,600 people.
The president’s call for a boycott was sparked by a news story from Topeka television station WIBW, which published an image from a training session at the Topeka Goodyear plant that went viral.
The slide is labeled “Zero Tolerance” and appears to offer examples of acceptable and unacceptable expressions in the workplace.
Under “acceptable,” it lists “Black Lives Matter” and “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride.”
Under “unacceptable,” it lists “Blue Lives Matter,” “All Lives Matter,” “MAGA Attire” and “Political Affiliated Slogans or Material.”
MAGA is the well-known abbreviation for the president’s campaign mantra and stands for Make America Great Again.
Goodyear is the only American company among the world’s top 10 tire manufacturers, third behind Japan-based Bridgestone and French manufacturer Michelin. Cooper tires, at No. 13, is the only other domestic manufacturer in the top 15 list published by Market Research Reports.
In a statement, Goodyear backed away from the controversial image, saying it was not created nor distributed by the company’s corporate office and it was not 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 equity issues,” the company statement said.
Juarez said the slide was one of many in a lengthy presentation.
“It was supposed to be verbal, but one of the managers put it in print, so one of the employees took a snapshot of one of the visuals,” Juarez said. “There was a whole bunch of visuals that go with it, so that was a little unfair they only took a snapshot of one thing without putting the explanations or anything.”
Juarez said there were “a handful of people” who would like to wear MAGA gear to work at the plant.
After the controversy hit, Juarez said he reached out to local police and the sheriff’s office to assure them that Goodyear employees support them and their work.
The national Steelworkers organization issued a statement criticizing Trump’s tweet, saying the union had sought his help several times in the past year as it tried to stave off the closing of a Goodyear plant in Gadsden, Ala.
“It would have been nice if the President would have paid as much attention to that loss of American jobs as he does to his MAGA hats,” the union statement said. “Maybe a tweet or two back then would have been helpful.”