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LABOR NEWS UPDATE: USW Says There’s ‘No Hope’ Of Saving 1,400 Jobs As Indianapolis’s Carrier Corporation Moves To Mexico, Union Officials Say Company Intends To Pay Workers There Just $6 An Hour

Published Thursday, February 18, 2016
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - United Steelworkers (USW) Officials Representatives met with representatives of the Carrier Corporation earlier this week in an effort to try and come up with a resolution before the company takes its work to Mexico.  However, USW Local 1999 President Chuck Jones says there’s no hope of saving 1,400 jobs at the Indianapolis plant because Carrier intends to pay its Mexican Workers there just $6 an hour.

Carrier told the USW that the closure is basically a done deal after making the announcement last week that they’d shutter their Indianapolis plant in the coming years and move at least 1,400 jobs to Mexico by 2019.  

Since then the move drew national backlash.

However, Jones said the major difference for Carrier is the wage difference

Indianapolis Carrier Employees make about $34 per hour with salary and benefits, while Workers in Mexico will make an average of $6 per hour with salary and benefits.

Carrier says there is no way to compete with that.

“We’ve got an ‘experienced’ workforce and ‘we can compete on every level there is,’ but we ‘can’t compete’ when they’re paying God-awful wages,” Jones said.

Jones and other USW Representatives are going back for more meetings with Carrier to discuss trying to get any additional benefits for those who will be laid off, such as extra vacation time.  "That's going to be a long, drawn-out process," he said.  Jones expects the jobs to start phasing out in May 2017 and be completed by 2019.

According to a letter given to Carrier Employees, the USW has been in discussions with U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, U.S. Congressman Andre Carson, Indiana State Representative Karlee Macer, State Representative Justin Moed, State Senator Michael Young, Mayor Joe Hogsett and City-County Councilman Jared Evans.  Democratic Presidential Candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders has also contacted the USW, they said. 

Carrier’s west side facility expanded in 2011 and got a six-year tax abatement from the city, clearing Carrier from paying $1 million in property taxes – and since 2013, Carrier got almost $200,000 in Employee Training Grants from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

“We are reviewing all the agreements between the state of Indiana and these companies and if they ‘do not fulfill the obligations made’ in these contracts, we’ll look to get the taxpayers’ money back,” Indiana Governor Mike Pence said.

USW Leadership will meet with Carrier representatives again to try and bargain extra benefits for let-go Workers.  Jones expects Employees to be vocal:  “Now, if we ‘go down,’ we’re going to ‘go down with rallies, protests, demonstrations and everything.’  So you’ll see ‘a lot of visibility’ probably here on the west side in the months to come.”

Another Carrier facility in Northeastern Indiana is closing as well, taking 700 jobs with it.  That facility is owned by Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies.

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