Despite assurances from President Donald Trump during his campaign that he would prevent the air-conditioner maker Carrier from moving jobs to Mexico, the company will lay off hundreds of workers at its Indianapolis, Indiana, plant by 22 December 2017.
The company informed state officials in a 19 May 2017 letter that it would terminate 632 positions over the course of the year. Carrier originally said that 338 employees would be let go in July, another four on 1 October 2017, and the last 290 workers would be laid off on 22 December 2017.
However, the company later reportedly adjusted its plans, opting to release 215 workers on 11 January 2018 instead, just after the 2017 holiday season. Company spokesperson Michelle Caldwell told us in a statement:
Notices provided last week are consistent with our previously announced plans regarding our Indianapolis facility. We continue to actively engage with our workers and the community to provide impacted employees with both the time and opportunity for a smooth transition.
That statement included a link to a 30 November 2016 announcement from Carrier, which trumpeted “very productive conversations” between the company and then-President-elect Donald Trump that would keep “more than 1,000 jobs” in Indiana. Trump also promoted the agreement.
However, the company backtracked on that estimate; on its Twitter account, the company revised “more than 1,000 jobs” to “close to 1,000 jobs”; and it admitted that its initial figure included 300 administrative positions at another location that were never in danger of being eliminated. In reality, only 800 of those positions were to be kept in Indiana.
The air-conditioner maker and its employees first garnered national attention in February 2016, when Carrier President Chris Nelson appeared on video announcing that the company would move the Indianapolis plant’s operations to Monterrey, Mexico, between 2017 and 2019; the move potentially affected an estimated 1,400 workers. Nelson said at the time:
I want to be clear: this is strictly a business decision, and by no means reflects on the performance of this facility or any individual in it.
Trump vowed during his campaign that he would stop the move, saying during an April 2016 speech:
Here’s what’s going to happen: I’ll get a call from the head of Carrier and he’ll say, ‘Mr. President, we’ve decided to stay in the United States. That’s what’s going to happen — 100 percent.
Most of the workers Carrier plans to lay off during 2017 are represented by the United Steel Workers union. We contacted USW seeking comment, but have yet to hear a response.
Update [24 May 2017]: Included statement from Carrier regarding the positions affected in the layoffs.
Update [20 December 2017]: Updated layoff date for several Carrier workers after the company announced it would release them in January 2018.