COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said Thursday that he does not support President Trump’s call to boycott top Akron employer Goodyear over an image suggesting employees are not allowed to wear MAGA hats, but says he is a believer in the First Amendment and people’s ability to express themselves.
“We should not boycott this good Ohio company,” DeWine said, responding to a reporter’s question about the Goodyear boycott during his regular COVID-19 briefing at the Statehouse. “They have good Ohio workers and they produce a very good product.”
The governor said that he doesn’t think that we know all the facts about an image of a presentation slide shown at one of the company’s factories in Topeka, Kansas that surfaced earlier this week, prompting the president to tweet a call for a boycott of the tire company.
Although the governor said he did not support the boycott, he said he is a “believer in the First Amendment.”
“And I think as much while any company has a right to run its business the way it wants to run it, I think it's always better if people have the ability to express themselves,” he said.”There are limits, and I know legally that a company can, you know, can control what goes on in their workplace. “But I would just think companies should be as open to First Amendment things as they can…that’s what kind of country this is.”
When asked by another reporter if he would support government employees wearing political attire, Gov. DeWine said there is a difference between state employees and those working in the private sector.
“I don't think that we would want, let's say, a state inspector who is out, who might have a political button on on state time and taxpayers paying for that person,” DeWine said. “So that's not allowed.”
The slide, which the company has since said was not part of an official training program and was created by an employee at the Topeka facility, showed a list of acceptable and unacceptable attire in the workplace. The “acceptable” list included clothing with Black Lives Matter and LGBT on it, while the “unacceptable” list included “Blue Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, MAGA attire and political affiliated slogans or material.”
After the slide was reported on by a Kansas news station, the president 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!).”
On Thursday, Goodyear tweeted a statement from Chairman, CEO and President Rich Kramer, which read, in part: “I deeply regret the impression it has created and want to clarify Goodyear’s position.”
A message from Rich Kramer: By now, you are aware of a visual from our Topeka factory that has been circulating in the media. I want to personally clear the record on what you are seeing and hearing. pic.twitter.com/UqqFeFQn6t— Goodyear (@goodyear) August 20, 2020
Goodyear does not endorse any political organization and has a policy that asks associates to refrain from expressions of support of any candidate or party in the workplace, Kramer stated.
Goodyear supports law enforcement and has supplied tires to police and fire personnel for over 100 years, the statement continues.
“We have clarified our policy to make it clear associates can express support for law enforcement through apparel at Goodyear facilities,” Kramer said.
Earlier Thursday, dozens of employees and city leaders rallied outside the Akron factory in support of the company.