Donald Trump stood outside a Carrier manufacturing plant in Indianapolis, Indiana weeks before taking office and boasted he just saved 1,100 jobs from being shipped to Mexico.
Inside the plant, some workers were skeptical. Carrier had promised layoffs, which Trump glossed over in his claim to save over 1,000 jobs.
On Monday, these workers were proven right. Though Trump struck a deal with Carrier promising them $7 million in local business incentives if they kept their Indianapolis plant open, the heating and cooling company warned that it would still outsource a number of Indiana jobs to Mexico, regardless. But the Trump campaign still championed the deal as a win for American workers. This week, the Carrier announced it will cut 632 jobs from its Indiana plant by the end of the year.
For labor leaders like Chuck Jones, the layoffs are a grim told-you-so moment. Jones is president of the United Steelworkers 1999, which represents employees at Carrier’s Indianapolis plant.
“We knew sometime—whether it be June, July, or August—we were gonna lose 300, 350, somewhere in that vicinity, because they were going to start moving the fan cool lines to Monterrey, Mexico,” Jones told The Daily Beast.
In a Monday letter, Carrier put a timeline on its layoffs, announcing that it would eliminate 338 jobs by July 20, and another 290 by Dec. 20. To some employees who expected to be laid off, but did not know when, the announcement was almost a relief.
“It’s been received well because it’s given the people some clarity as to a date,” Robert James, a Carrier employee who also serves as vice president of United Steelworkers 1999. “Now if they’re applying for jobs, they can give a start time.”
The company had openly promised the layoffs even while Trump was celebrating the company’s decision to keep its Indianapolis plant open.
“While this announcement is good news for many, we recognize it is not good news for everyone,” Carrier wrote in a Dec. 1 letter to employees, the same day Trump rallied outside the plant. “We are moving forward with previously announced plans to relocate the fan coil manufacturing lines, with the expected completion by the end of 2017.”
But Trump’s speech that day gave no indication of the impending layoffs. Instead, Trump predicted his deal would lead to new Carrier jobs.
“So many people in that big, big beautiful plant behind us—which will be even more beautiful in about seven months from now—they’re so happy. They’re gonna have a great Christmas,” Trump said at his Dec. 1 rally outside the Carrier plant. “That number’s going to go up very substantially as they expand in this area, this plant. So the 1,100’s gonna be a minimum number.”
Some employees who believed Trump’s promises are now destined for disappointment, Jones said.
“There are some people who feel they were misled. Because he misled them,” Jones said. “With him saying what he did that day, and not saying... that 550 jobs were still going to leave that facility and go to Mexico.” Carrier is most likely to lay off its least-senior employees, Jones said.
James said he was among a number of employees who appreciated Trump’s gesture to keep the Carrier plant open, but did not expect the move to prevent layoffs.
“We probably didn’t expect it to happen, no,” James said. “I am appreciative of what took place. But there are still 500-some people who are going to be unemployed. And he bragged about saving 1,100 jobs.”
Trump knew his deal would lead to layoffs, but touted the 1,100 figure in front of employees anyway, Jones said.
“He promised during the campaign that if he was president he would keep all these jobs here in this country. And then when he did work out the deal with [Carrier parent company United Technologies Corporation], he came into the facility and kept saying he saved over 1,100 jobs. That’s where me and him ended up getting sideways,” Jones said, referencing a December spat between him and the president-elect.
After Trump failed to mention the major layoffs during his December speech, Jones told The Washington Post that Trump “got up there and, for whatever reason, lied his ass off.”
Trump retaliated on Twitter. “Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!” Trump tweeted of the local union leader, adding that “If United Steelworkers 1999 was any good, they would have kept those jobs in Indiana. Spend more time working-less time talking. Reduce dues.”
Now, as Carrier warned on the day of Trump’s triumphant speech outside the plant, the jobs are leaving Indiana anyway.
“It wasn’t a shock by no means,” Jones said.