DETROIT – One of Detroit’s iconic brands is facing backlash after the company decided to uphold a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for its employees, despite not having to.
A leaked email from Carhartt CEO Mark Valade stated that the apparel company’s staff members would be required to get vaccinated for COVID, despite the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that ended the president’s vaccine mandate for large businesses.
From there, the backlash was nearly immediate.
“An unvaccinated workforce is both a people and business risk our company is unwilling to take.” Valade wrote in the email.
The leaked email went viral on social media platforms, garnering calls from some people to boycott one of Detroit’s -- and the country’s -- most iconic brands, which is often associated with toughness, ruggedness and hard work.
Among those who lashed out online was Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R-FL) who sent a letter to Florida governor Ron DeSantis requesting to end all contracts with Carhartt, which he called a “woke” company.
Former Trump administration advisor Sebastion Gorka tweeted to his 1.1 million followers “Never buy Carhartt products again.” The controversial conservative pundit Jack Posobiec also tweeted to his 1.5 million followers to wage “economic warfare” on the company.
Carhartt declined an interview with Local 4, but the company’s spokesperson Amy Hellebuyck did send the following statement:
“Carhartt fully understands and respects the varying opinions on this topic, and we are aware some of our associates do not support this policy. However, we stand behind our decision because we believe vaccines are necessary to protect our workforce.”Amy Hellebuyck
The calls for a boycott over the company’s decision to uphold a vaccine mandate shows that the culture wars over COVID vaccines in the U.S. could come with economic fallout for other companies who have kept their mandates in place, too.
This week, the head of the White House Economic Council weighed in on the dangers of partisan politics slowing an economy that is trying to rebound amid the pandemic.
“The more infighting we have, that’s not going to be productive,” Dr. Cecilia Rouse said. “What’s important is that we get this virus under control, and that we can all get back to our normal lives. Our economy was relatively healthy when this started, and it will be healthy again.”
Carhartt may also serve as a cautionary tale for other major Michigan companies, like the Big Three. Ford Motor Company has said that it is reevaluating its vaccine mandate in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, while General Motors and Stellantis are only encouraging vaccines for now.