INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 2, 2016) -- Gov. Mike Pence met with executives from Carrier Wednesday morning to discuss the company's decision to leave Indianapolis and move operations to Mexico.
Describing the administration’s efforts as a “full court press,” Pence showed little optimism that the 1,400 jobs would remain in Indianapolis.
“I don’t want to create false hope,” he said after the meeting. “I wouldn’t say I came away from the meeting more hopeful than I went in.”
The company’s move would affect about 1,400 jobs in Indianapolis; United Technologies Electronic Controls in Huntington also said it will move operations and eliminate 700 jobs. Carrier announced in February that it would relocate to Monterrey, Mexico, where it could pay workers a significantly lower wage and cut costs. The decision incited a local and national backlash against the company.
“They’re being cowards and hiding behind that door and not talking to us personally,” Frank Staples said, an 11-year Carrier employee who showed up outside the governor’s office Wednesday.
Robert McDonough, president of climate, controls and security for UTC, Carrier’s parent company, emerged from Pence’s office about an hour after entering.
“Absolutely a positive discussion with the governor,” he said. “We’re talking about next steps and how we move the transition for our employees along.”
The comments were far from a reversal, which would keep the jobs in Indiana.
“We had a really good discussion on a whole range of topics,” McDonough said. “It would be hard to characterize all of it, but feel good coming out of the meeting.”
Pence said the company reaffirmed its promise to keep 400 separate research and development jobs in Indiana and reimburse both the state and Indianapolis for training grants the company received, adding the state’s portion equates to $382,000.
“We don’t invest in training dollars in companies in hopes they stay a few years,” he said.
After the meeting, Carrier released a statement that said in part:
"The productive meeting touched on the continued migration of Carrier’s suppliers and competitors to Mexico, as well as ongoing cost and pricing pressures driven, in part, by evolving regulatory requirements and standards. The company also reaffirmed its intention to work directly with the appropriate state and local agencies to reach a resolution on repayment of tax incentives."
But in a statement, Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) criticized both Carrier and Pence for blaming the move on Washington regulations.
“I read closely Governor Pence’s comments that Carrier told him that red tape and regulations are why it’s moving these Hoosier jobs to Mexico. Carrier previously told me it will still be subject to the same exact regulations in Mexico if the company intends to continue selling products in the U.S. Because the truth always matters, I’m going to press the Carrier executives on this very point when I meet with them."
After the meeting with McDonough, Pence met privately with members of the local United Steelworkers Union, who are promising to fight publicly for their jobs.
“If we don’t succeed on keep these jobs here, our mission is to ruin them and you can quote me on that,” Chuck Jones said, president of USW Local 1999. “We’re gonna do protests. We’re doing boycotts. We’re doing marches. We’re going to be visible.”