President Donald Trump (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
President Donald Trump (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

President’s attack fits in with years of Republicans dismantling middle class jobs.

President Donald Trump’s call to boycott Goodyear tires isn’t an anomaly, it goes right along with Republicans’ years-long attacks on the unions that have been a major driver of growth in the middle class over the last century. 

Republican leaders have worked to weaken unions for decades, and the Trump administration is no different. Conservative Supreme Court justices in 2018 overruled decades of precedent and said public employees do not have to pay dues to unions, even if they benefit from the union’s work on their behalf to secure better wages and benefits. And the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has several leadership positions left vacant by the Trump White House, which arguably led the group to reexamine another long standing rule: that union contracts are binding for three years, so unions have time to show their value to employees.

In this vein, Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday to encourage his 85.4 million followers to boycott Goodyear Tires, after a company employee posted a photo of a training presentation that said “MAGA” attire was not allowed at work. 

Goodyear issued a statement after the president’s tweet saying that the company asks its employees to “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 equity issues.” The company, however, later clarified that employees would be allowed to wear things that showed support for police. 

The president’s armored limousine, also called the “Beast,” uses custom Goodyear tires.

Trump’s comments this week were criticised by union leaders who were disappointed that any president would promote a nationwide boycott of an American company and American workers. 

“It ought to scare the hell out of every working man and woman in this country,” Bill Conner said in an interview with Newsweek. Connor is the sub-district director for District 1 of the United Steelworkers. 

A nationwide boycott of any company called for by the president could spell disaster, even for one of America’s largest businesses. Goodyear also happens to be Ohio’s largest employer, with 69,000 global employees. Following Trump’s call for a boycott Goodyear stock saw a 3.5% decrease.

The Lincoln Project, a group of former Republican operatives opposed to Trump, aired a new television ad highlighting Trump’s attack on the middle class and Goodyear, noting just how many jobs would be lost if the company went under. So far, few Republican leaders have come out against the president’s message. 

Conversely, as the Democratic National Convention closed, former Vice President and Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden sat down remotely with union workers to discuss their concerns and the coronavirus pandemic. 

“The middle class is continuously taking hits and you know one of the reasons we’re on this call is because we know how important it is to have you in the White House,” said Robert Bair from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Blair works as a journeyman wireman. “If we’re going to build the middle class it’s about the jobs.”

Biden agreed saying, “the future really rests on investment, we’re going to be investing $2 trillion in infrastructure, ports, bridges, highways making sure that we have access to do things that are really going to make a difference.” 

Plans like that are what won over Art Reyes, an electrician from at the General Motors assembly plant in Flint, Michigan.

“The coronavirus pandemic has really hit home because it’s shown how vulnerable our supply lines are,” Reyes told The Gander, Courier’s Michigan publication. “We need to get help from somebody who cares about workers, who cares about manufacturing, who has a plan for the auto factories, and I see that in Vice President Biden.”