Carrier Steelworker Responds To Movement Of Jobs To Mexico
NPR's Audie Cornish talks with T.J. Bray, a steelworker at the Carrier plant in Indianapolis where President Trump said he saved over 1,000 jobs. Last month, Carrier told the state that 600 people will be laid off, and those jobs will be transferred to Mexico.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Back before inauguration, Donald Trump announced a deal with the air conditioning and heating company Carrier to keep one of their manufacturing plants on U.S. soil. Here's President-elect Trump in December at that factory in Indianapolis.
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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Companies are not going to leave the United States anymore without consequences - not going to happen.
CORNISH: Carrier told the state of Indiana this week that 600 workers will be laid off from this factory, and they're moving the jobs to Mexico. Earlier I spoke with T.J. Bray. He's worked at this factory for the past 15 years. He told me that when employees first heard about Trump's deal, they were relieved.
T J BRAY: You know, at first we were pretty excited. You know, the majority of people we thought was going to be keeping their jobs. And you know, of course he came here. And you know, that's, like, a once-in-a-lifetime event - to see your president live in person like that, especially at your job. So I mean it was quite a spectacle.
And then, you know, the next day, we find out that it was only 730 jobs that would be staying and that they were going to still relocate the whole fan coil department to the Mexican facility that they had just built down there. It was another punch in the gut really because you know that you're going to lose still a lot more of your friends, and these people are going to be out of jobs.
CORNISH: You know, Carrier reportedly received roughly $5 million in tax breaks to save those jobs. In the end, does this feel like a bad deal?
BRAY: I mean, definitely in a way, yeah because we're still losing 600 people. I mean I'm grateful my job's being saved. But why can't you save this whole plant and all these jobs? I mean, you know, he touted that, you know, no one's going to leave under his watch, and we're still seeing jobs leave - and not only here but other places.
CORNISH: The White House was asked about this, and Sean Spicer, the spokesman, said that the news is essentially nothing new, that Carrier remains committed to retaining more than a thousand Hoosier jobs over the next 10 years and that the company's still showing confidence in the business climate and future of the U.S. economy. Do you see that confidence?
BRAY: I tell you what. If you come in here and ask any person that works here that if they believe they have long-term security at this facility, they will all tell you, no, they don't. They told us once they'd leave, and they just built this massive facility in Monterrey, Mexico. We know that they're not just going to put one department that they're shipping down there now for that.
I think everyone knows the inevitable eventually will come. We hope and wish that - for sure that this plant will be here for a long time and, you know, a lot of us can continue our careers here. But unfortunately we just don't - we don't have that faith in the company that they're going to stick to their word and stay here.
CORNISH: In the end, how has this affected your confidence in this president?
BRAY: You know, I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt when he was elected. And when he - you know, we heard about the deal, you know, we thought maybe he really is going to do - you know, not like these other politicians who say stuff and don't do anything. But then we find out it's not what it is. It's hard to have confidence in him. He's speaking about how he's going to keep these jobs here and what he's going to do. But we're still seeing jobs leaving. I mean don't say that if you're not going to do anything to save these jobs.
CORNISH: So the final run for your coworkers is through July, correct?
BRAY: Well, the first 300 will be laid off next month. And then the rest of them will be laid off three days before Christmas.
CORNISH: Well, T.J. Bray, thank you so much for speaking with us, and best of luck at Carrier.
BRAY: Yes. Thank you all.