INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – During a news conference Friday, the union representing Carrier employees addressed the growing controversy over the number of Hoosier jobs President-elect Donald Trump says he helped save.
Union president Chuck Jones said he harbors no ill will toward the president-elect and suggested the "feud" that's gotten national attention is overblown. He said he and the union plan to work with the Trump administration to keep jobs in the U.S. and Indiana. Jones told reporters he was thankful for Trump's role in preserving jobs.
Jones and other union leaders pledged not to give up the fight to save jobs at Carrier in both Indianapolis and Huntington, as well as Rexnord in Indianapolis. He said the workers who are losing their jobs only want the opportunity to make a living wage and support their families. He told reporters he's been through eight different plant closures and said "they're horrible" for the employees and their families.
He chalked it up to "corporate greed."
"They want to enhance the shareholders' profits, so what do they do? They take the good peoples' jobs away and move them to Mexico to exploit Mexicans workers by paying three $3 an hour," Jones said.
He said the companies didn't care about employees and taking away the livelihood of workers and their families.
He reiterated that if Trump and his administration are sincere about keeping jobs in the U.S., the union will work with them.
Over the last few days, Trump and Jones have been locked in a war of words.
It started after Jones took issue with Trump’s claim that he’d saved more than a thousand Hoosier jobs from going to Mexico. Jones said the number is actually closer to 730 union jobs because some of the positions Trump included in his figure weren’t going to Mexico in the first place.
Trump hit back at Jones on Twitter, saying the union president has done a “terrible job” of representing workers. Trump criticized the union, saying it should spend more time working and less time talking and reduce dues.
As soon as Trump tweeted about Jones, the union president said his phone was inundated with calls. Some were threatening while others were supportive. Jones said Friday that he'd received thousands of phone calls and emails, with the vast majority of them from people showing their support. Former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders was among those who called Jones to offer encouragement.
"A lot of them were upset with me in particular for some of the things I said about President-elect Trump," Jones said. "I want to give President-elect Trump credit. He got involved in the Carrier situation and was able to negotiate with UTC to save 800 jobs. Big hand, gratitude goes out to him."
Jones said he thinks Trump got upset because the numbers didn't quite add up. He told reporters he wasn't upset by the criticism that followed.
Jones was critical of tax breaks that were part of the deal to keep some Carrier jobs in Indianapolis, questioning why taxpayers were giving money to a company that was already profitable.