Goodyear walks back ban on 'blue lives matter' attire after backlash
The company amended its policy against political attire after a photo taken at a Kansas plant labeled a pro-police phrase 'unacceptable'
By Robin Goist
Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland
AKRON, Ohio — Faced with backlash regarding the company’s policy against employees wearing political attire, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. CEO Rich Kramer announced Thursday that employees are now allowed to wear apparel that shows support for law enforcement.
The statement from Kramer is the second issued by Goodyear in response to controversy erupting after President Donald Trump publicly protested the company’s dress code related to political messages and called for a boycott of Goodyear tires.
“…Goodyear strongly supports our law enforcement partners and deeply appreciates all they do to put their lives on the line each and every day for our communities,” Kramer said Thursday. “We have proudly supplied tires to police and fire personnel for more than 100 years and that relationship is foundational to our company. We have clarified our policy to make it clear associates can express support for law enforcement through apparel at Goodyear facilities.”
A photo taken at a Goodyear plant in Topeka, Kansas, and first reported by a Kansas television station shows that “unacceptable” apparel under the company’s dress code includes attire with messages of “Blue Lives Matter,” “All Lives Matter” and “MAGA.”
Trump called for a boycott of the Akron-based company via Twitter on Wednesday, citing “a ban on MAGA hats.”
The company initially responded to Trump’s tweet by saying it allows employees to wear messages of racial justice and equity, such as “Black Lives Matter” and LGBT pride, but forbids any messages supporting a political party, campaign or candidate.
In his statement Thursday, Kramer said the image aired by the station was taken in the Topeka factory, but that “the slide was not approved or distributed by Goodyear Corporate or anyone outside of that facility,” and that he regrets the impression it left.
Here is Kramer’s statement in full:
Dear Goodyear Customers:
By now, you are aware of a visual from our Topeka factory that has been circulating in the media, and I want to personally clear the record on what you are seeing and hearing. The slide in question was created by a plant employee to try to explain what is acceptable to wear in the workplace. The slide was not approved or distributed by Goodyear Corporate or anyone outside of that facility.
I deeply regret the impression it has created and want to clarify Goodyear’s position.
First, to be clear, Goodyear does not endorse any political organization, party or candidate. We have a longstanding corporate policy that asks associates to refrain from workplace expressions in support of any candidate or political party.
Second, Goodyear strongly supports our law enforcement partners and deeply appreciates all they do to put their lives on the line each and every day for our communities. We have proudly supplied tires to police and fire personnel for more than 100 years and that relationship is foundational to our company.
We have clarified our policy to make it clear associates can express support for law enforcement through apparel at Goodyear facilities.
The core of our company is our people and our culture. Goodyear has always supported both law enforcement and equal justice. We will always do so.
I want to thank each and every one of our customers for your partnership during these unprecedented times.
Rich Kramer, Chairman, CEO & President
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