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Trump Blasts Union Leader Who Criticized Carrier Deal


Donald Trump often lets loose on Twitter, and last night, his target was a union official in Indianapolis - Chuck Jones, president of Steelworkers Local 1999. Jones had called Trump a liar for overstating how many jobs would be saved in a deal with the Carrier company. Indiana Public Broadcasting's Annie Ropeik reports.

ANNIE ROPEIK, BYLINE: Chuck Jones does not use Twitter. He's been dealing with fallout from being called out on the president-elect's Twitter the old fashioned way - on the phone, smoking a cigarette in the back office of the Local 1999 union hall in Indianapolis.


CHUCK JONES: Steelworkers.

ROPEIK: Jones is in good spirits despite having spent all day taking calls of all kinds. Some have contained threats. Others, like this one from a church leader in California, are supportive.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Hi. I'm really, really sorry that this is happening to you.

JONES: No, I'll tell you what. I appreciate it very much, but you know, people are people. And you know...

ROPEIK: In the tweets, Trump called Jones a bad leader and blamed the union for the Carrier company's plans to cut 2,100 jobs and seek cheaper labor in Monterrey, Mexico. Trump hadn't always pinned that outsourcing on the union, but until now, the union wasn't even really involved. Jones says they had their own lengthy negotiations with Carrier back when the layoffs were first announced and Trump was only mentioning them on the campaign trail.

Then just a few weeks ago, Trump convinced Carrier's parent company to change course without input from the Steelworkers. Jones says the company told the union how many jobs would be saved just hours before Trump spoke at the factory. They learned that 730 members would keep their jobs in Indianapolis plus 70 office workers, a total of 800.

Jones says he called Trump out after that and wound up as a trending topic. In fact, the deal Trump and the state struck with Carrier does require them to keep about 1,100 jobs in Indiana. But it's not clear all of those jobs were headed to Mexico. Carrier will receive a total of $7 million in incentives in exchange and will invest $16 million of its own money in the Indianapolis factory.

But Greg Hayes, the CEO of parent company United Technologies, told CNBC that the money will go toward automating parts of the facility, resulting in fewer jobs in the long run. Union President Chuck Jones seems OK with all the attention. He says all this will keep outsourcing in the headlines, and so he will keep taking calls.

JONES: Now, would I rather be home watching basketball and...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Football tonight.

JONES: ...Getting ready to watch football - yeah, most certainly. But in order to keep this alive with Carrier and the rest of them, you got to do it.

ROPEIK: Trump's tweets have just given him more to work with. For NPR News, I'm Annie Ropeik. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Annie Ropeik reports on state economy and business issues for all Indiana Public Broadcasting stations, from a home base of WBAA. She has lived and worked on either side of the country, but never in the middle of it. At NPR affiliate KUCB in Alaska's Aleutian Islands, she covered fish, oil and shipping and earned an Alaska Press Club Award for business reporting. She then moved 4,100 miles to report on chickens, chemicals and more for Delaware Public Media. She is originally from the D.C. suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland, but her mom is a Hoosier. Annie graduated from Boston University with a degree in classics and philosophy. She performs a mean car concert, boasts a worryingly encyclopedic knowledge of One Direction lyrics and enjoys the rule of threes. She is also a Hufflepuff.