NEW YORK CITY — US President Donald Trump said in a tweet Wednesday that he is disbanding his two business councils.
The move came after the manufacturing council lost seven members: three of whom left on Monday, two on Tuesday, and two on Wednesday amid fallout from his handling of the white-supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.
“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!” Trump said in the tweet.
After the tweet, Johnson & Johnson’s CEO, United Technologies CEO, Corning CEO Wendell Weeks, and GE’s Jeff Immelt all announced their resignations from the council.
Here’s how the events unfolded
Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, the only black business leader in the group, was first to resign on Monday morning after Trump initially failed to explicitly denounce white nationalists.
By the time Trump did so in a televised address on Monday, Frazier was the only one to have stepped down from the council because of the weekend’s events.
Later Monday, however, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank joined Frazier in leaving the council. The sporting-goods CEO said he decided to do so because his company “engages in innovation and sports, not politics.”
That same night, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich released a statement saying he too was stepping down from the council.
“Earlier today, I tendered my resignation from the American Manufacturing Council,” Krzanich wrote. “I resigned to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues, including the serious need to address the decline of American manufacturing. Politics and political agendas have sidelined the important mission of rebuilding America’s manufacturing base.”
Trump responded Tuesday to the three departures with a tweet, saying that he has other leaders to take their spots on the council.
Scott Paul, the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, tweeted shortly after Trump’s statement that he will be the fourth executive to leave the council.
“I’m resigning from the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative because it’s the right thing for me to do,” Paul tweeted late Tuesday morning.
On Tuesday evening, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka also announced he was leaving the council after Trump defended his original statement on the violence in Charlottesville, blaming both sides.
“We cannot sit on a council for a President who tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism,” the organisation said in a statement. “President Trump’s remarks today repudiate his forced remarks yesterday about the KKK and neo-Nazis. We must resign on behalf of America’s working people, who reject all notions of legitimacy of these bigoted groups.”
On Wednesday, following Trump’s wild press conference in which again blamed “both sides” for the Charlottesville violence, 3M CEO Inge Thulin also announced his decision to step down from the council.
“I joined the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative in January to advocate for policies that align with our values and encourage even stronger investment and job growth — in order to make the United States stronger, healthier and more prosperous for all people,” Thulin said in a statement. “After careful consideration, I believe the initiative is no longer an effective vehicle for 3M to advance these goals.”
Shortly after, Campbell Soup Company CEO Denise Morrison departed the council, citing the president’s comments on Tuesday.
“Racism and murder are unequivocally reprehensible and are not morally equivalent to anything else that happened in Charlottesville. I believe the President should have been — and still needs to be — unambiguous on that point,” Morrison said in a statement.
Trump then sent out a tweet, announcing the end to both councils.
Less than 15 minutes after the tweet, J&J CEO Alex Gorsky and United Technologies CEO Greg Hayes said they would resign from the council. Gorsky had prior to Trump’s news conference on Tuesday said he was staying on. Hayes had not taken a clear stance ahead of his resignation.
“Johnson & Johnson has a responsibility to remain engaged as important policy decisions are made. That hasn’t changed. The President’s most recent statements equating those who are motivated by race-based hate with those who stand up against hatred is unacceptable and has changed our decision to participate in the White House Manufacturing Advisory Council,” Gorsky said in a statement. “We will continue to support, advocate and champion policies and programs that make this country and the world healthier, stronger and more united.”
GE Chairman Jeff Immelt changed his mind and left the council on Wednesday, issuing a statement after the president’s tweet.
Wendell Weeks, CEO of Corning, also annouced he had decided to leave the council after Trump’s tweet dissolving the group.
“However, the events of the last few days have transformed the council’s laudable mission of job creation into a perception of political support for the Administration and its statements,” Weeks said. “This runs counter to my original intention and is inconsistent with Corning’s Values. As a result I have made the decision to step down from the council.”
Dow Chemical Company CEO Andrew Liveris, who was chair of the manufacturing council, said that the choice to end the group the “right decision.”
“In discussions I had with the White House earlier today, I indicated that in the current environment it was no longer possible to conduct productive discussions under the auspices of the Initiative,” he said in a statement. “And so, as proud as I am of the efforts we were taking on behalf of the American worker, disbanding the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative was the right decision.”
Here’s where the business leaders stood before the president disbanded the council
- Andrew Liveris, Dow Chemical Company, said he would remain on the council, but added later that disbanding the group was the “right decision.” “I condemn the violence this weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, and my thoughts and prayers are with those who lost loved ones and with the people of Virginia,” Liveris said in an emailed statement on Monday. “In Dow, there is no room for hatred, racism, or bigotry. Dow will continue to work to strengthen the social and economic fabric of the communities where it operates — including supporting policies that help create employment opportunities in manufacturing and rebuild the American workforce.”
- Bill Brown, Harris Corporation, did not respond to a request for comment.
- Michael Dell, Dell Technologies, said he would remain on the council. “While we wouldn’t comment on any member’s personal decision, there’s no change in Dell engaging with the Trump administration and governments around the world to share our perspective on policy issues that affect our company, customers, and employees,” a spokeswoman said.
- John Ferriola, Nucor Corporation, did not respond to a request for comment.
- Jeff Fettig, Whirlpool Corporation, said he would remain on the council. “Whirlpool Corp. believes strongly in an open and inclusive culture that respects people of all races and backgrounds,” the company said in a statement. “Our company has long fostered an environment of acceptance and tolerance in the workplace. The company will continue on the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative to represent our industry, our 15,000 US manufacturing workers, and to provide input and advice on ways to create jobs and strengthen US manufacturing competitiveness.”
- Ken Frazier, Merck, left the council. “As CEO of Merck, and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” he said in a statement.
Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson, originally said he would remain on the council, but later changed his mind. “The President’s most recent statements equating those who are motivated by race-based hate with those who stand up against hatred is unacceptable and has changed our decision to participate in the White House Manufacturing Advisory Council,” Gorsky said in a statement.
On Tuesday, J&J had said they’d stay on. “At Johnson & Johnson we are deeply saddened by the horrific events that occurred in Charlottesville this past weekend. Intolerance, racism, and violence have no place in our society,” Gorsky said in an emailed statement. “In the end, I have concluded that Johnson & Johnson has a responsibility to remain engaged, not as a way to support any specific political agenda, but as a way to represent the values of Our Credo as crucial public policy is discussed and developed.”
- Greg Hayes, United Technologies Corp., stepped down from the committee in the moments after Trump tweeted that the council would be disbanded. “UTC strongly supports the goals of each of these advisory committees as a way of ensuring and enhancing America’s economic growth in the decades to come,” Hayes said in a statement. “However, as the events of the last week have unfolded here in the U.S., it is clear that we need to collectively stand together and denounce the politics of hate, intolerance and racism. The values that are the cornerstone of our culture: tolerance, diversity, empathy and trust, must be reaffirmed by our actions every day.”
- Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin, declined to comment.
Jeff Immelt, General Electric, originally said he would remain on the council, but on Wednesday left the council.
“GE has no tolerance for hate, bigotry, racism, and the white supremacist extremism that the country witnessed in Charlottesville last weekend,” Immelt said in a statement.
- Jim Kamsickas, Dana Inc., did not respond to a request for comment.
- Brian Krzanich, Intel, announced Monday night he would step down from the council: “I am not a politician,” Krzanich said in a statement. “I am an engineer who has spent most of his career working in factories that manufacture the world’s most advanced devices. Yet, it is clear even to me that nearly every issue is now politicized to the point where significant progress is impossible. Promoting American manufacturing should not be a political issue.”
- Rich Kyle, The Timken Company, did not respond to a request for comment.
- Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO, left the council on Tuesday after Trump made additional remarks about Charlottesville. “We cannot sit on a council for a President who tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism. President Trump’s remarks today repudiate his forced remarks yesterday about the KKK and neo-Nazis. We must resign on behalf of America’s working people, who reject all notions of legitimacy of these bigoted groups.”
- Denise Morrison, Campbell Soup Company, left the council on Wednesday. Campbell’s had originally said it was staying on. “Racism and murder are unequivocally reprehensible and are not morally equivalent to anything else that happened in Charlottesville. I believe the President should have been — and still needs to be — unambiguous on that point,” Morrison said in a statement. “Following yesterday’s remarks from the President, I cannot remain on the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative. I will continue to support all efforts to spur economic growth and advocate for the values that have always made America great.”
- Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing, said he would remain on the council.
- Elon Musk, Tesla, left the council in June after Trump pulled out of the Paris agreement on climate change. He tweeted at the time: “Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.”
- Doug Oberhelman, formerly Caterpillar, Oberhelman retired at the start of 2017, Caterpillar did not respond when asked if they had any current employee serving on the council.
- Scott Paul, Alliance for American Manufacturing, announced Tuesday that he would step down from the council: “I’m resigning from the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative because it’s the right thing for me to do,” Paul tweeted.
- Kevin Plank, Under Armour, announced Monday night he would step down from the council: “I joined the American Manufacturing Council because I believed it was important for Under Armour to have an active seat at the table and represent our industry,” Plank said in a statement. “We remain resolute in our potential and ability to improve American manufacturing. However, Under Armour engages in innovation and sports, not politics.”
Michael Polk, Newell Brands, said he would remain on the council. “With a large portion of our business in the U.S., including a manufacturing footprint of more than 60 factories and 15,000 employees (and counting), it is in our best interests to have a voice in the conversations that can influence the environment in which we work,” said Polk in a statement. “I plan to continue to collaborate with other leaders from diverse industries, who represent a variety of perspectives and beliefs, to help shape strategies and develop policies that foster a more vibrant economy and more jobs in the US.”
Polk also provided Business Insider with a statement regarding Charlottesville: “We find the events of this past weekend in Charlottesville to be incredibly troubling. There is simply no place in our society for racism of any kind, white supremacy, or Neo-Nazism. The values that form these views are intolerable and completely contrary to everything we hold true as proud Americans. We reject and condemn all that hate stands for and hope that as a society, we can come together as one in this view. For its part, Newell Brands has always been and will always be committed to diversity and inclusion in every aspect of our business.”
- Mark Sutton, International Paper, said he would remain on the council. “International Paper strongly condemns the violence that took place in Charlottesville over the weekend — there is no place for hatred, bigotry, and racism in our society,” an International Paper representative said. “We are a company that fosters an inclusive workforce where all employees are valued and treated with dignity and respect. Through our participation on the Manufacturing Jobs Council, we will work to strengthen the social and economic fabric of communities across the country by creating employment opportunities in manufacturing.”
Inge Thulin, 3M, announced Wednesday that he is leaving the council: “Sustainability, diversity and inclusion are my personal values and also fundamental to the 3M Vision. The past few months have provided me with an opportunity to reflect upon my commitment to these values.
“I joined the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative in January to advocate for policies that align with our values and encourage even stronger investment and job growth — in order to make the United States stronger, healthier and more prosperous for all people. After careful consideration, I believe the initiative is no longer an effective vehicle for 3M to advance these goals. As a result, today I am resigning from the Manufacturing Advisory Council.
“At 3M, we will continue to champion an environment that supports sustainability, diversity and inclusion. I am committed to building a company that improves lives in every corner of the world.”
- Wendell Weeks, Corning, did not respond to a request for comment.
Steve Schwarzman, the CEO of the private-equity giant Blackstone and the leader of Trump’s now-disbanded Strategic and Policy Forum — another group of executives from companies such as JPMorgan, PepsiCo, and Walmart — also condemned the events in Charlottesville and said he would remain as head of the forum.
“Bigotry, hatred, and extremism are an affront to core American values and have no place in this country,” Schwarzman said in a statement. “I am deeply saddened and troubled by the tragic events in Charlottesville. My heartfelt condolences go out to the victims and their families. As the president said today, I believe we need to find a path to heal the wounds left by this tragedy and address its underlying causes. Encouraging tolerance and understanding must be a core national imperative, and I will work to further that goal.”
The following CEO’s had also left the council because they are no longer in their jobs:
- Mark Fields, formerly Ford Motor Company, stepped away from the council after leaving Ford in May. Ford told Business Insider the company no longer had a representative on the manufacturing council.
- Klaus Kleinfeld, formerly CEO of Arconic, left the company in April. It no longer has a representative on the council.
- Mario Longhi, formerly US Steel, stepped away from the council after retiring on June 30.
- Thea Lee, formerly AFL-CIO, departed as the group’s deputy chief of staff. Politico reported Tuesday that she had left the council.
For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on. JOBS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 15, 2017
Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2017