Trump’s Con Job Exposed

Yesterday was not a good day for anyone who still believed the con job Trump ran on about concern for working class Americans.

Last night in Iowa, he was on the defensive about feeding the swamp (rather than draining it) by picking so many millionaires/billionaires to be members of his cabinet, saying, “I want people that made a fortune.” On his choice of Andrew Puzder to be Labor Secretary, even the folks at Breibart were unhappy with him. But the much-vaunted Carrier deal continues to unravel, leading Trump to show his disdain for working class people.

It all started on Tuesday when Chuck Jones, president of United Steelworkers 1999 (which represents Carrier employees) said that Trump “lied his ass off” when he said that he’d saved 1,100 jobs at the company. Jones had learned from Carrier just prior to Trump’s victory lap in Indianapolis that the number was really about 730 jobs. It became his task the next day to explain to the remaining 550 workers that the deal didn’t include them and they’d lose their jobs after all.

Obviously that comment upset our thin-skinned president-elect and he did what he usually does…he tried to bully Jones on twitter.

It looks like Trump might have met his match in Chuck Jones, though. In an interview with the Washington Post, the union guy brushed off the nonsense, as well as the threats he is now receiving from Trump supporters by saying “It is what it is. It don’t phase me.” Then he published an article in the paper titled “I’m the union leader Donald Trump attacked. I’m tired of being lied to about our jobs.” Jones provides some interesting background on the situation at Carrier.

In February, corporate officials came to our plant and announced that they were closing the facility. They would move 1,300 jobs to a plant in Mexico. (Three hundred and fifty positions would remain in Indianapolis, mostly filled by research and development staff.)

Over the next several months, my team and I worked tirelessly to keep Carrier in our city. We came up with $23 million in savings, but the Carrier brass said that wasn’t enough. They could save $65 million by moving to Mexico. We couldn’t match that unless we were willing to cut wages to $5/hour and cut all benefits.

Notice that the $65 million figure is the same amount reported by Alan Murray. We have no way of knowing whether it’s accurate, but Carrier has consistently used to it to qualify the amount they would save by moving jobs to Mexico. What Jones adds to the story is that, during negotiations prior to Trump’s involvement, the union had come up with $23 million in savings to offset that amount.

This is why the media’s constant reporting that it was the $7 million in state tax savings promised by Indiana that saved those jobs doesn’t pass the smell test. The union had already put $23 million of savings on the table – and Carrier turned it down. Once again, I’ll point to what Alan Murray reported. A source relayed that Trump told Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies, that “those savings [$65 million] would be dwarfed by the savings UTC would enjoy from corporate tax-rate reductions he planned to put in place.”

Beyond promising tax cuts that would dwarf that $65 million, Chris Isidore reports that – just as many suspected – those 730 jobs were only saved temporarily.

It sounded like great news when Carrier said last week that it would invest millions in the Indiana plant it decided to keep in the U.S.

The company’s deal with President-elect Donald Trump to keep a furnace plant from moving to Mexico also calls for a $16 million investment in the facility.

But that has a big down side for some of the workers in Indianapolis.

Most of that money will be invested in automation said to Greg Hayes, CEO of United Technologies, Carrier’s corporate parent. And that automation will replace some of the jobs that were just saved.

We can all point the finger at United Technologies and villainize them for what they are doing to American workers. But once we’re done doing that, we still have to grapple with finding a solution. Obviously the Trump administration’s answer is to rob the federal treasury of taxes in order to entice companies like this to stay. As Isidore reports, that may created a window for someone like Trump to claim victory, but it is more than likely to be short-lived. Trade wars will only do more harm to American workers and won’t halt the march towards automation.

It’s clear that our president-elect doesn’t have any viable answers to these complex issues. His con job has been exposed. But it is past time for liberals to begin talking honestly about real solutions.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.