INDIANAPOLIS – Thursday was a day of victory for more than 1,000 workers at the Indianapolis-based Carrier plant.
More than 10 months after the employees learned that the company was moving the plant to Monterrey, Mexico, around 200 workers were visited by President-elect Donald Trump, Indiana Governor and Vice President-elect Mike Pence and other dignitaries to announce that many would not be losing their jobs after a deal was struck between the incoming president and Carrier.
The deal to keep the Carrier jobs in Indianapolis included $7 million in tax incentives for Carrier and its parent company United Technologies over 10 years.
In February, a video was released by a worker within Carrier Corp., showing a Carrier executive telling workers that jobs making heating and air conditioning units would be moved to Mexico over a three-year period.
Carrier worker T.J. Bray was in the building that day and remembers it all too well.
“February 10 was a day in infamy for all of us here at Carrier,” Bray said. “The betrayal we felt, it was an awful feeling.”
More than 10 months later, on Tuesday evening, Carrier posted an update on Twitter giving the workers hope, announcing a deal had been reached to keep close to 1,000 jobs in Indiana. The update noted that more details would come soon.
Afterward, Trump announced on Twitter that he would "be going to Indiana on Thursday to make a major announcement concerning Carrier A.C. staying in Indianapolis.”
On Thursday, Trump followed through on his visit with an announcement that slightly more than 1,000 jobs would stay in Indianapolis.
Workers, many brought to tears, reacted Thursday to the official announcement.
“It is a great day for me and a lot of other Indianapolis employees,” 25-year Carrier worker Michael Swedish said. “I still hate it that some (jobs) have to go, though. I guess that is just the nature of America these days.”
While speaking to Carrier workers, Trump took aim at what many see as the “nature of America these days” with a warning to businesses looking to leave the United States for cheaper labor.
“Companies are not going to leave the United States anymore without consequences,” Trump said, though he did not elaborate.
Bray, with the February announcement still fresh in his mind, expressed the relief he felt Thursday.
“I don’t have to worry about how I am going to feed my family and my children now," he said. "Today is a victory for the little people.”
Steve Miles, who has worked at Carrier since he was 18 years old and is now a 31-year veteran of the company, said he was short of words to describe the elation he felt.
“I just thank God that something got worked out,” Miles said.
While speaking with the workers on Thursday, Gov. Pence proclaimed, "It is a great day for the working people all across the United States of America.”
Indiana State AFL-CIO President Brett Voorhies noted that saving jobs is always a good thing.
"Unfortunately, there are still 400-600 jobs leaving," he said. "The president-elect has kind of put himself into a box now because there are more factories moving, not just in Indiana but throughout the nation.
"I just hope that this isn't a dog-and-pony show based off of a campaign promise."
Howell writes for the Greensburg Daily News in Greensburg, Indiana.