Carrier Union Leader Says Trump Exaggerated Jobs Saved; Trump Calls Him 'Terrible' on Twitter

Carrier Union Leader Says Trump Exaggerated Jobs Saved; Trump Calls Him 'Terrible' on Twitter
President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence wave as they visit the Carrier factory on Dec. 1, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President-elect Trump lashed out at the union boss who represents Carrier workers on Twitter Wednesday after the labor leader said Trump exaggerated about what he did to save jobs at the manufacturing company.

The air conditioning and heating company announced in February that it would move over a three-year period more than 2,000 jobs from an Indiana plant and distribution facility to Monterrey, Mexico, as a cost-cutting measure.

Carrier said in a statement last week that the company “negotiated an agreement with the incoming administration that we believe benefits our workers, the state of Indiana and our company.”

The company said it “will continue to manufacture gas furnaces in Indianapolis, in addition to retaining engineering and headquarters staff,” stressing “the incentives offered by the state were an important consideration.” The Wall Street Journal reported that Carrier will reap $7 million in tax breaks over 10 years in the deal. Trump said the number of jobs saved is “over 1,100 people.”

Chuck Jones, president of United Steelworkers 1999, told CNN that the number wasn’t correct.

“When Carrier announced the close down the whole facility in February, they announced at that point in time the research and development jobs, about 350 of them were going to remain here in Indianapolis. Then when Mr. Trump got involved what the actual in number of jobs saved is 730 bargain unit jobs, the workers, the union members. And another 70 office, supervisory clerical workers from management,” Jones said. “And what they are doing, they are counting in 350 some odd more than were never leaving this country at all. And I think he’s did a lot of negotiations and I have likewise. And if you are dealing with people’s livelihoods, you sure in the world ought to know what the numbers are.”

Jones emphasized that 550 people are losing their jobs in the Indianapolis facility and 700 jobs are also going to Mexico from the company’s Huntington, Ind., plant.

“I appreciate Mr. Trump getting involved and saving as many people’s livelihoods as he did. So I don’t think that can go without being said. I just wish that he’d have had the numbers down… because we have a lot of our members when the word was coming out of 1100, they thought that they would have a job,” he said. “And then they find out the next day after — next Friday, that most likely they weren’t. Five hundred and fifty were still going to lose their jobs.”

Shortly after Jones’ segment aired Wednesday evening, Trump took to Twitter:

United Steelworkers fired off a tweetstorm of their own in response, starting the hashtag #ImWithChuck.

Leo Gerard, international president of the United Steelworkers Union and vice president of the AFL-CIO, told MSNBC on Wednesday night that his first response was “really one of sadness.”

“We’ve got someone who is just about to become the president of the United States, most important job on the planet,” Gerard said. “And he is busy tweeting about a local union president who is in fact a hero. Chuck Jones is someone who was standing up, fighting for his members, refused to accept that Carrier was going to just get to walk away.”

“He and his membership and our district director made this a national issue. Every time a politician wanted to talk about the economy, Chuck Jones and his local talked about what about Carrier moving to Mexico for $6 an hour… The president of the United States decided that he should call them names. I am terribly disappointed, I am also angry.”

Gerard said the company told the union “there’s nothing you can do that would keep us here unless you want to work for under $5 an hour.”

“But Chuck wouldn’t accept that, and his members wouldn’t accept that, and they kept making an issue of it,” he added, noting that union dues “are a little over not quite 1.5 percent.”

Jones said he began receiving phone threats after the Trump tweets.

“Nothing that says they’re gonna kill me, but, you know, you better keep your eye on your kids,” he told MSNBC. “We know what car you drive. Things along those lines.”

The union leader told CNN this morning that he doesn’t regret what he said, though. “He didn’t tell the truth. He inflated the number, and I called him out on that,” Jones said.