On Thursday, NBA star LeBron James LeBron, who hails from Akron, Ohio, where Goodyear Tires’ headquarters are, weighed in on the criticism the company has received from President Trump and others after it was discovered that a company diversity training session allegedly featured a slide showing a ban on MAGA apparel. Trump called for a boycott of Goodyear.
James, a consistent critic of Trump, stated:
I know my people of Akron and I know what Goodyear means to our city. So one thing about us, we don’t bend; we don’t fold; we don’t break for nobody. So I’m not worried about that. Not only has Goodyear been great for my city, for the history of my city, but the country and what they represented. It’s an unbelievable brand, unbelievable history.
We stand strong and we always unite, especially my city. We’ve always felt like we’ve been counted out, being a small city, and that’s what rallies us even more and makes us even stronger. So shout-out, salute to all the workers, men and women at Goodyear over the course of their history and to the city of Akron.
The leak of the audio slide at a Goodyear training session was revealed on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, President 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!).”
Roughly an hour later, Goodyear issued a statement:
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. 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 … 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 form 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 equality issues.
Then audio from the training session at the Topeka plant was leaked to WIBW. A speaker had allegedly told the trainees:
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.
On Thursday, Goodyear CEO and President Rich Kramer released a statement that said in part:
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 that facility. … 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 clarified our policy to make it clear associates can express support for law enforcement through apparel at Goodyear facilities.
Trump stated on Thursday that he would be open to stripping the Goodyear tires off of the presidential limousine, saying, “Well, I’m not happy with Goodyear because what they’re doing is playing politics … 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.”
“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?” Trump continued. “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.”
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