Chuck Jones vs. Donald Trump: A window on future union relations?

Union boss Chuck Jones says that Donald Trump deliberately inflated the number of Carrier jobs that he had saved. Now, the president-elect is attacking Jones on Twitter.

Evan Vucci/AP
President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence wave as they visit to Carrier factory, in Indianapolis on Dec. 1, 2016. Mr. Trump is slamming a union leader who criticized his deal to discourage air conditioner manufacturer Carrier Corp. from closing an Indiana factory and moving its jobs to Mexico.

The subject of president-elect Donald Trump’s latest Twitter rant is Chuck Jones, president of the United Steelworkers Local 1999.

The union represents employees of Carrier furnace plant, which was slated to relocate many of its jobs to Mexico until Mr. Trump negotiated a deal to keep them in the United States. But Mr. Jones says that the president-elect lied about the number of jobs that were actually saved by the deal.

“He didn't tell the truth. He inflated the numbers and I called him out on it,” Jones said on CNN’s “New Day” Thursday morning. “You hear all the time how much of a skilled negotiator that he is. You know, he says about himself. So, I've been in a lot of negotiations as a union representative. So, I would have to assume that he sure as the world either knew the precise numbers or most certainly should have.”

In light of the criticism, Trump took to Twitter.

While campaigning in Indiana seven months ago, Trump promised to save jobs within the Carrier that were slated to move to Mexico. Last week he announced that he had reached a deal with United Technologies, the factory’s parent company, the would keep 1,100 Indianapolis residents employed.

“Now they’re keeping – actually the number’s over 1,100 people,” Trump told a crowd of Carrier production workers, supervisors, and reporters, “which is so great.”

But Jones says that this number is inflated, that Trump is responsible for saving only 800 jobs, including several nonunion positions and that 550 of the union’s members were losing a job after all. The chief executive of United Technologies backed up Jones’ claim, saying jobs would be lost to automation regardless of Trump’s negotiations.  

"He overreacted, President-elect Trump did," Jones told CNN. "He should have come out and tried to justify his numbers."

For keeping jobs in the US and agreeing to invest $16 million in Carrier’s Indiana operation, parent company United Technologies will receive $7 million in tax credits from Indiana, paid out over a decade. But Jones told The New York Times, that Trump’s negotiations had not stopped another plant from transferring 700 other positions to Mexico.

At an April rally, Trump promised to keep manufacturing jobs from going overseas, saying “They're going to call me and they are going to say 'Mr. President, Carrier has decided to stay in Indiana. One hundred percent – that's what is going to happen.”

But when Trump announced how many jobs were being saved to Carrier workers, he did not remember this particular promise, saying that it was aimed at all manufacturing companies, not Carrier specifically.

T.J. Bray, one of the workers who will keep his job, told The Washington Post, he was confused by the whole announcement.  “[Trump] was like, ‘I wasn’t talking about Carrier,’” Bray said, but “[he] made this whole campaign about Carrier, and we're still losing a lot of jobs.”

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