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Ohio Democrats, DeWine Support Goodyear Following Trump Criticism

Goodyear Eagle tires are shown during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020.
Paul Sancya
Goodyear Eagle tires are shown during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020.

Ohio Democrats held a rally in Akron to support Goodyear and its thousands of employees in the state. Lawmakers say President Donald Trump's call to boycott Goodyear tires is an attack on the entire Northeast Ohio community. 

Democratic leaders joined union workers to denounce Trump's call for a boycott, which he urged this week because the company's workplace policy doesn't allow employees to wear "Make America Great Again" hats or other gear affiliated with political candidates.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan said it's inappropriate behavior for the president of the United States.

"You are going out of your way to use the greatest bully pulpit in the world to attack 3,300 families in this community," Ryan said. "We have enough challenges."

Goodyear says it bans all attire endorsing individual political candidates.

House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) laid out the important role the company has played for the region.

"Not only are you attacking the workers at Goodyear, you are attacking the entire community," Sykes said. "And let me tell you something, if you attack this community you have to answer to me, and you have to answer to all these other people standing with me."

At his Thursday afternoon briefing, Gov. Mike DeWine rejected the idea of boycotting Goodyear tires.

"No, no, no absolutely not," DeWine said. "We should not boycott this good Ohio company. They have good Ohio workers and they produce a good product."

DeWine says the issue does bring up some important questions in general about the private sector and its ability to restrain a worker's freedom of expression. He added that certain restrictions are placed on government employees, since they're funded by taxpayers and politics could conflict with their work.

Bob Paduchik, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, said the president was making an example of corporate America's double standard on workplace policies and that Goodyear put itself in this "political position."

Paduchik defended the president's record in protecting the working class and hit back at Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, saying his role in creating environmental regulations and trade issues with China hurt labor.

In response to Trump's criticism, Goodyear CEO Rich Kramer said the company has clarified its policy “to make it clear associates can express support for law enforcement through apparel at Goodyear facilities.” However, the company will continue to ask employees to not express support for any political candidates while on the job.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.