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Facing Trump criticism, Goodyear says employees can wear clothes supporting police

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Goodyear tires are seen on presidential limo as U.S. President Trump arrives on campaign travel at Wilkes-Barre Scranton International Airport in Avoca, Pennsylvania

By David Shepardson and Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Goodyear Tire Chief Executive Rich Kramer said on Thursday the company had clarified its policy to make clear employees can wear apparel expressing support for law enforcement after it faced a boycott call from U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Republican president, who is seeking a second term in office, told reporters on Wednesday he would swap out the Goodyear tires on his presidential limousine if there were an alternative.

Goodyear on Thursday said it had a longstanding policy of asking employees of refraining from working place expressions of support for any political candidates.

Trump accused the Ohio-based company of “playing politics” by forbidding workers from donning the “Make America Great Again” caps favored by his supporters.

“Don’t buy GOODYEAR TIRES – They announced a BAN ON MAGA HATS,” he wrote on Twitter Wednesday, referring to his slogan “Make America Great Again” often emblazoned on baseball caps.

Trump said it was “disgraceful” that the company would prevent employees from wearing attire supporting the ‘Blue Lives Matter’ movement that supports law enforcement, while allowing support for other causes.

Goodyear said a widely circulated image created by a plant employee that triggered the controversy was not created or distributed by the company’s corporate group.

The image spelled out appropriate and inappropriate displays, with ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride’ deemed acceptable, while ‘Blue Lives Matter’ and ‘MAGA Attire’ were not.

Kramer said Goodyear “strongly supports” law enforcement noting it has supplied tires to police and fire vehicles for more than 100 years. “That relationship is foundational to our company,” Kramer wrote employees Thursday. “Goodyear has always supported both law enforcement and equal justice.”

Shares in Goodyear fell as much as 6% on Wednesday after Trump’s tweet, but pared some losses to close down 2.4%. Goodyear shares fell 0.4% Thursday to $9.46.

The White House did not comment on Goodyear’s new statement, but White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow earlier defended the boycott call, saying Goodyear should change its workplace policy to allow political speech.

(Reporting by David Shepardson and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Sandra Maler and Alistair Bell)

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