CEOs on Trump’s Council Speak Out. Others Stay Silent on Charlottesville
Merck (MRK) CEO Ken Frazier resigned this morning from President Trump’s American Manufacturing Council, a group of business leaders tapped to advise the president on “how best to promote job growth and get Americans back to work again.”
Frazier’s decision to step down from the council came after President Trump failed to immediately condemn head-on the white supremacists whose rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend led to violence—including the brutal death of a 32-year-old counter-protester.
“America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values,” said Frazier said in a statement, “by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal.”
Fortune reached out to all of the other sitting CEOs on the council as well as the presidents of the AFL-CIO and Alliance of American Manufacturing, asking for a response to the weekend’s events and whether they planned to remain a member of the group.
The following are the answers we have received so far. They should be attributed to the company or company spokesperson unless otherwise indicated. We’ll continue to update as we hear back.
Besides Frazier, Under Armour (UAA) CEO Kevin Plank, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, Alliance for American Manufacturing president Scott Paul, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison, and 3M CEO Inge Thulin all said they would resign before President Trump said he would disband the manufacturing council on Wednesday.
Inge Thulin, 3M:
Updated 9/16: 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 (MMM) 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. (Attributed to Thulin.)
Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO:
The AFL-CIO has unequivocally denounced the actions of bigoted domestic terrorists in Charlottesville and called on the President to do the same. We are aware of the decisions by other members of the President’s Manufacturing Council, which has yet to hold any real meeting, and are assessing our role. While the AFL-CIO will remain a powerful voice for the freedoms of working people, there are real questions into the effectiveness of this council to deliver real policy that lifts working families. (Attributed to Trumka.)
Update 9/15: 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 KK and neo-Nazis. We must resign on behalf of America’s working people, who reject all notions of legitimacy of these bigoted groups.
It’s clear that President Trump’s Manufacturing Council was never an effective means for delivering real policy that lifts working families and his remarks today were the last straw. We joined this council with the intent to be a voice for working people and real hope that it would result in positive economic policy, but it has become yet another broken promise on the President’s record. From hollow councils to bad policy and embracing bigotry, the actions of this administration have are [sic] consistently failed working people. (Attributed to Trumka.)
Scott Paul, Alliance for American Manufacturing:
I’m resigning from the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative because it’s the right thing for me to do. (Attributed to Paul.)
Denise Morrison, Campbell Soup (CPB):
The reprehensible scenes of bigotry and hatred on display in Charlottesville over the weekend have no place in our society. Not simply because of the violence, but because the racist ideology at the center of the protests is wrong and must be condemned in no uncertain terms.
Campbell has long held the belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to the success of our business and our culture. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is unwavering, and we will remain active champions for these efforts.
We believe it continues to be important for Campbell to have a voice and provide input on matters that will affect our industry, our company and our employees in support of growth. Therefore, Ms. Morrison will remain on the President’s Manufacturing Jobs Initiative.
Update 9/16: 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.
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. (Attributed to Morrison.)
Michael Dell, Dell:
While we would not 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, our customers and our employees.
Andrew Liveris, Dow Chemical (DOW):
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. 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. (Attributed to Liveris.)
Bill Brown, Harris Corp. (HRS):
A Harris spokesperson said he was “not able to get a response for you.”
Brian Krzanich, Intel (INTC):
Earlier today, I tendered my resignation from the American Manufacturing Council. 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.
I have already made clear my abhorrence at the recent hate-spawned violence in Charlottesville, and earlier today I called on all leaders to condemn the white supremacists and their ilk who marched and committed violence. I resigned because I want to make progress, while many in Washington seem more concerned with attacking anyone who disagrees with them. We should honor–not attack–those who have stood up for equality and other cherished American values. I hope this will change, and I remain willing to serve when it does.I am not a politician.
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. My request—my plea—to everyone involved in our political system is this: set scoring political points aside and focus on what is best for the nation as a whole. The current environment must change, or else our nation will become a shadow of what it once was and what it still can and should be. (Attributed to Krzanich)
Mark Sutton, International Paper (IP):
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. 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.
Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ):
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.
Several members have made the decision to leave President Trump’s White House Manufacturing Advisory Council, and I respect their decision as a matter of personal conscience. Given the events of the past few days, I can understand the concerns—even the fear—that some people have expressed. These are difficult days for everyone. 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.
Ours is an important voice on healthcare, one that global leaders at every level, in and out of government, need to hear. If we aren’t in the room advocating for global health as a top priority, if we aren’t there standing up for our belief in diversity and inclusion, or if we fail to speak out when the situation demands it, then we have abdicated our Credo responsibility. We must engage if we hope to change the world and those who lead it. (Attributed to Gorsky.)
Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin (LMT):
We do not have a comment.
Michael Polk, Newell Brands:
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. 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 U.S.
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. (Attributed to Polk.)
John Ferriola, Nucor (NUE):
At Nucor, we condemn the violence that occurred this past weekend in Charlottesville and reject the hate, bigotry, and racism expressed at the demonstration.
As North America’s largest steel producer, Nucor has engaged with several administrations to work on policies that help strengthen the U.S. manufacturing sector and provide opportunities for American workers. We believe a strong manufacturing sector is the backbone of a strong economy, and we will continue to serve as a member of the White House Manufacturing Jobs Initiative. (On behalf of Ferriola.)
Kevin Plank, Under Armour:
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. We remain resolute in our potential and ability to improve American manufacturing. However, Under Armour engages in innovation and sports, not politics.
I am appreciative of the opportunity to have served, but have decided to step down from the council. I love our country and our company and will continue to focus my efforts on inspiring every person that they can do anything through the power of sport which promotes unity, diversity and inclusion. (Attributed to Plank.)
Jeff Fettig, Whirlpool (WHR):
Whirlpool Corp. believes strongly in an open and inclusive culture that respects people of all races and backgrounds. 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 U.S. workers, and to provide input and advice on ways to create jobs and strengthen U.S. manufacturing competitiveness.
Sitting CEOs who have not responded to Fortune: 3M’s Inge Thulin, Boeing’s Dennis Muilenburg, Corning’s Wendell Weeks, Dana’s Jim Kamsickas, Timken’s Rich Kyle, and United Technologies’ Greg Hayes.
John Patrick Pullen, Sy Mukherjee, Phil Wahba, Valentina Zarya, and Claire Zillman contributed to this report.
This story has been updated to include responses from AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, Newell Brands CEO Michael Polk, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, Alliance for American Manufacturing president Scott Paul, Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky, Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison, and 3M CEO Inge Thulin.