The company, which makes heating and air conditioning units, became the posterchild of offshoring when during the 2016 presidential campaign a video went viral of management announcing to angry workers that the entire plant was being shut down and 1,400 jobs were being eliminated.
Donald Trump leapt on the issue and hammered Hillary Clinton for supporting free-trade deals like NAFTA that by 2004 led to the net loss of 1 million U.S.-based jobs.
Trump vowed to save all the jobs at Carrier, as well as at another Indianapolis factory, Rexnord, that announced last year that it was also moving 300 jobs to Monterrey. Bashing Carrier helped propel Trump to an upset victory.
On December 1, President-elect Trump swept into Indianapolis and triumphantly announced that he struck a deal with Carrier’s parent company, UTC, to save “over 1,100” jobs. Trump claimed too that was the “minimum number” of jobs being saved and the number of workers would “go up very substantially as they expand this area, this plant.”
Chuck Jones, president of United Steelworkers Local 1999, which represents workers at Carrier’s Indianapolis plant, said when he heard Trump’s announcement, “I almost threw up in my mouth.” Jones and other union officials said Trump knew before he got up on stage that 550 jobs were going to Mexico. “It really pissed me off he misled people their jobs might be saved. He didn’t want to get up and tell people part of the plant is going to stay and part of the plant is going to Mexico.”
Jones sparked a controversy by telling the Washington Post Trump “lied his ass off” about saving 1,100 jobs. The Raw Story visited Indianapolis in January and sat down with Jones and 16 other workers at three Indiana factories where Trump said he would save jobs.
Reached by phone today, after Carrier’s announcement, Jones gives Trump credit for saving 800 Carrier jobs in Indianapolis. Another 269 research and administrative jobs were never leaving, but Trump apparently included them to get the “over 1,100” figure.
Jones says he is “bitter” about 1,600 workers being given the boot from that plant, the Rexnord factory, and a second Carrier facility in Huntington. And his opinion of Trump hasn’t softened. “I didn’t trust Trump when he was running, playing on working-class hopes. This guy who has businesses in other countries and wraps himself in the American flag.”
Jones is dismayed at how Trump pulled the wool over people’s eyes. “Sad thing is people bought into it then, when he was a candidate. Some working-class people still buy into it. They’re fucking stupid. Trump is the Titanic. The greatest ship ever and it fucking sunk. He said he’s going to save this country and if he keeps going like he has, he’s going to sink the country.”
Robert James, who works at Carrier’s Indianapolis plant and will become USW 1999 president in June, says the job losses are “devastating.” James says the mood among workers today is one of “closure.” But, “It’s going to be hard for them. You don’t replace jobs paying $25 an hour, like at Carrier and Rexnord. They got warehouse jobs paying ten to twelve dollars an hour. This is going to do damage to families, cause unnecessary stress and strain.”
James says, “I don’t think the president is going to be of any help to the workers. Things he’s proposing like healthcare are going to hurt them and their families. I don’t think Trump cares about workers.”
He adds, “If he really wanted to help workers, why doesn’t he start with bringing his own jobs back to the United States? His daughter and son-in-law all got jobs overseas where they pay people $60 a week or less. It’s a tragedy where all these companies go overseas and abuse people.”
Jones said the 632 jobs being cut includes some 80 seasonal workers. But more cuts are in the works he warns. Trump crowed that UTC would invest $16 million in the Carrier plant over the next two years, which would lead to job growth. Except Greg Hayes, the CEO of UTC, directly contradicted that a week later. Hayes told CNBC the investment was “to automate to drive the cost down so that we can continue to be competitive. … what that ultimately means is there will be fewer jobs.”
The state of Indiana promised UTC $7 million in taxpayer money if it keeps the jobs in the state and makes the planned investment. That’s nearly $9,000 per job, but Jones says, “By the time the investment is completed quite a few jobs will be eliminated. There’s no way of knowing if it’s going to be 50 or 100 or 200 jobs that will be gone.”
“The taxpayers got hoaxed out of $7 million to move more than 1,250 Carrier jobs out of this country. The whole thing was a scam.”
Ultimately, Jones says the blame lies with Wall Street. “These greedy sons of bitches don’t care about anyone else if they can make more money. This is going to destroy a lot of people.”