More layoffs at Carrier plant touted by Trump as jobs success
by Tom Davies, The Canadian Press
Trump travelled to the Indianapolis factory early in his mandate to announce a tax-incentive agreement to save jobs. After taking the incentives, the company has since cut about 550 jobs
INDIANAPOLIS—A new round of layoffs is taking effect this week at the Carrier Corp. factory in Indianapolis a little more than a year after President Donald Trump touted a deal that staved off the plant’s closure and saved some of its jobs.
About 215 people are being let go starting Thursday, leaving about 1,100 workers at the plant, according to the company. That’s down from the some 1,600 factory, office and engineering jobs at the facility when Carrier announced plans in early 2016 to move production to Mexico.
This week’s previously announced layoffs follow about 340 job cuts at the factory in July.
Trump frequently criticized Carrier’s plant closing plans during the 2016 campaign. He travelled to the Indianapolis factory three weeks after his election win to announce a tax-incentive agreement partially reversing the closure and keeping some 800 furnace production jobs.
Retired United Steelworkers Local 1999 President Chuck Jones, who was chastised by a Trump tweet after complaining that Trump gave false hope to Carrier workers by inflating the number of jobs being saved, said the president hasn’t followed up on his campaign talk of stopping the country’s loss of manufacturing jobs.
“We haven’t seen anything that would indicate that he plans on living up to those promises and commitments,” Jones said.
Trump and other Republicans maintain the business tax cuts included in the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul he signed into law last month will lead to more jobs and higher wages across the country.
The latest Carrier job cuts follow the final closing in November of a 350-worker Rexnord Corp. industrial bearings factory in Indianapolis. Milwaukee-based Rexnord didn’t change its decision to shift much of the factory’s work to Mexico despite a tweet from Trump blasting Rexnord for “rather viciously firing” its workers.
Carrier’s parent company, Connecticut-based United Technologies, is also closing a control panel factory in the northeastern Indiana town of Huntington. The last of the plant’s roughly 700 production workers are expected to be laid off this year, with that work also going to Mexico.
Indiana officials have approved an incentive package that includes directing $7 million in state tax breaks and grants over 10 years to Carrier toward keeping the Indianapolis factory open. The deal includes Carrier investing $16 million for automation at the plant. The company’s CEO has said that will ultimately mean fewer jobs at the factory.
Robert James, who took over this summer from Jones as the union’s local president, said Carrier officials have yet to discuss those automation plans with the union.
Carrier Corp. said in a statement it has offered reimbursement programs for employees who seek college degrees or vocational training certifications. It also said United Technologies plans to hire nearly 25,000 people in the U.S. over the next three years.
Jones said he appreciated that Trump helped save about 800 jobs at the Indianapolis factory, but lamented those that are being lost.
“I think, without a doubt, that there’s a lot more he could do so we wouldn’t be losing these jobs at the rate we are,” Jones said.