President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday said he wasn’t specifically talking about Carrier when he said on the campaign trail that "Carrier will never leave" America if he was elected president.
Speaking before a crowd of workers at Carrier Corp.’s furnace plant in Indianapolis, Trump said he had been using Carrier as a “euphemism" for U.S. manufacturing jobs in general.
Trump said he thought "this ship had sailed," but that didn’t stop him from calling Greg Hayes, CEO of Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies Corp., in mid-November and asking him to rethink the company’s decision to send 1,400 jobs from Indianapolis to Mexico.
Trump said he told Hayes that “it’s really important, we have to do something because you have a lot of people leaving … and you have to understand we can’t allow this to happen anymore.”
Trump and Vice president-elect Mike Pence praised Carrier and Hayes heavily Thursday after the company announced its decision to invest $16 million in the plant over the next two years and keep 1,069 employees in Indianapolis. Eight hundred of those jobs had been slated for Mexico.
Chuck Jones, president of United Steelworkers Local 1999, told IBJ that 730 bargaining-unit jobs—people who make gas furnaces at the plant—will stay in Indianapolis, along with 70 supervisory jobs. Several hundred administrative jobs already were expected to stay in Indianapolis.
But about 600 employees who made fan coils in Indianapolis will lose employment as that work moves to Mexico, said Jones, who was briefed on the deal earlier Thursday.
Indiana economic development officials offered Carrier Corp. up to $7 million in incentives over the next decade to keep the majority of operations in Indianapolis.
"Carrier will designate its Indianapolis manufacturing facility as a Center of Excellence for gas furnace production, with a commitment to making significant investments to continue to maintain a world-class furnace factory," the firm said in a written statement Wednesday.
The statement said Carrier would "continue to manufacture gas furnaces in Indianapolis, in addition to retaining engineering and headquarters staff, preserving more than 1,000 jobs."
This is a “great day for Indiana and a great day for working people across the United States of America,” said Pence, Indiana’s governor, before he introduced Trump.
Trump, “made the case for America, and Carrier decided to bet on a brighter future for America," Pence said.
Trump praised Carrier for changing its mind: "Great business people, they have flexibility," he said.
He received a standing ovation from Carrier workers. "Thank you!" someone shouted out.
Carrier said the incentives from the state played a big role in persuading it to backtrack on a decision to move all of the manufacturing jobs.
A source familiar with the deal said Carrier would receive $5 million in conditional state tax credits ($500,000 over 10 years) and $1 million in training grants that would be paid as soon as they are needed. The tax credits would be contingent on Carrier meeting the job-retention numbers.
The company would also receive an amount equal to 7 percent of its capital investment, up to a maximum of $1 million. The $1 million would be realized with a $16 million investment.
Indiana officials said prior to the announcement that it was rare to give a firm incentives for simply retaining jobs, as opposed to creating them. However, there was precedent, they said.
The Carrier deal would be the fifth since 2009 aimed strictly at job retention, officials said.
Trump said the company would benefit from a goodwill boost from consumers.
Trump and Pence toured the Carrier plant shortly before their appearance around 3 p.m., which was attended by a big crowd of local and national media as well as current Carrier workers.
Carrier press operator Dawnn Kinnard, 42, said she saw a tweet from Trump on Thanksgiving that he was making progress on the Carrier jobs but she was skeptical. “There’s no way,” she thought at the time.
Kinnard, a Trump voter, said she feels relieved now, and Trump’s personal appearance at the plant made her believe that the promise to retain jobs is real. But she said the company has still not shared details about the plan and what it means for workers.
“We were really hoping to get more details [Thursday],” Kinnard said.
Trump said United Technologies “has stepped up” and that other companies would receive phone calls if they said they would leave the United States.
He said he hoped to lower business taxes dramatically and get rid of government regulations. He called the North American Free Trade Agreement, which solidified a trading relationship with Mexico and Canada, a “total and complete disaster.”
“Companies are not going to leave the United States any more without consequences,” Trump said. “It’s not going to happen. We’re losing so much. … I want to let all of the other companies know, there’s no reason for them to leave anymore. Your taxes are going to be at the very low end. We need regulations for safety and environment but most of the regulations are nonsense.”