Carrier worker to Trump: “You robbed me after I helped you win”
Carrier workers protest in Indianapolis. | United Steelworkers

INDIANAPOLIS—With Donald Trump set to make his State of the Union address on January 30th, dozens of Carrier workers packed a local bar across the street from the Carrier manufacturing plant in this city to send a message to the president: end offshoring of our jobs.

The theme of the event was “The State of the Working Class.” It was sponsored by Good Jobs Nation, an organization dedicated to holding elected officials accountable to America’s working class, and was broadcast live online. Former United Steel Workers (USW) Local 1999 President Chuck Jones was featured as the main speaker.

Carrier, a local manufacturing facility for commercial and residential furnaces, featured prominently in Trump’s 2016 campaign when he promised to keep the plant from closing. On January 11, 2018, the last of 600 previously announced lay-offs were completed, putting more workers out of a job. Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies, was recently awarded a $2 billion federal contract despite its lay off of Carrier employees.

Jones told the crowd that Donald Trump’s actions speak louder than his words. Before he took office, Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence struck a deal with Carrier to keep about half the jobs from going to Mexico. As part of the deal, the plant received $7 million in conditional state tax incentives and training grants and agreed to stay open in Indianapolis for 10 years. Jones spoke bluntly, telling the crowd and the assembled media that “President Trump is the enemy of America’s workers.”

Check out former USW Local 1999 President Chuck Jones earlier op-ed on the Carrier job losses, featured in People’s World.

Renee Elliott, a worker at the Indianapolis Carrier Plant, held back tears as she told those assembled at the bar and watching online, “Tomorrow, I’m losing my job as the company I work for, the company I hoped to serve until retirement, sells me out.” She voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election because of his promise to keep her job from moving to Mexico, but she says, “Now I feel betrayed. I feel angry. I feel forgotten.”

She was one among many Carrier workers who worked to help elect Trump for the same reason. As she stands to lose union benefits, especially an affordable health care plan for herself and her family, as well as a living wage, she spoke directly to the president: “You robbed me of all that, even after I helped you win the White House.”

Chuck Jones speaks at the “State of the Working Class” event held in Indianapolis on Jan. 10. | Jason Jones / PW

Frank Staples, another Carrier employee who has struggled with serious health concerns, told those present that he wants to hear what the president is going to do to prevent this from happening elsewhere. Staples wants to hear Trump talk specifically about Carrier workers in his State of the Union address. Along with all the other laid-off Carrier employees, Mr. Staples is looking for an executive order that would stop offshoring. And he wants to hear it come from the president’s mouth on January 30th.

In the shadow of the Carrier Plant, Chuck Jones reminded those gathered of his run for Wayne Township Trustee. Wayne Township is located on the west side of Indianapolis and is the township where the Carrier Plant is located. Along with Chuck Jones, other candidates holding office as well as those running spoke out, taking both Democrats and Republicans to task for not standing up for workers like Frank and Renee.

Jared Evans, Democratic member of the Indianapolis City-County Council, told his constituents that both his party and the Republican Party are at fault for what happened at Carrier. In his address to the crowd, he said that the City-County Council could have done more to stand up for Carrier workers, such as revoking the company’s property tax abatement earlier on.

Liz Watson, Democratic candidate for Indiana’s 9th Congressional District, mentioned that Trump has signed 100 executive orders and memos, none of which hold companies with federal contracts accountable to employing American workers. However, if elected, she does have a plan to introduce legislation that would stop taxpayer dollars from going to companies with federal contracts that offshore their production.

On January 30th, Chuck Jones and Carrier employees will be listening very closely to Donald Trump. With 2018 being a midterm election year, the chance for workers to regain some control locally and in Washington, D.C. seems possible.


CONTRIBUTOR

Jason Jones
Jason Jones

Jason Jones is a social worker writing about Indiana. One of his favorite quotes is “I'm a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will." -Antonio Gramsci. Jones is a fan of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Beisbol Cubano.

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