Attacked By Trump, Ignored By Democrats: USW Local 1999 President Chuck Jones Talks About Labor’s Fight - Discusses Carrier, Outsourcing & Being ‘Targeted’ By The President-Elect On Twitter
In These Times’ Editor’s Note: The author of this Labor News Report - Micah Uetricht, is a Contributing Editor at In These Times and is a former Associate Editor and Editorial Intern at the magazine. He is an Associate Editor at Jacobin, the author of Strike for America: Chicago Teachers Against Austerity, and has written for The Nation, The Chicago Reader, VICE News, The Guardian and elsewhere. He previously worked as a Labor Organizer. To Directly Access This Labor News Story, Go to: http://inthesetimes.com/article/19791/chuck-jones-local-labor-leader-carrier-trump-twitter-trade-outsourcing
2016 was a rough year for Chuck Jones.
In February, the President of Indiana’s United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1999 learned that 1,350 of his Members were going to be laid off from the Indianapolis-based Carrier plant.
Carrier had announced it was moving its operations to Mexico in search of higher profits, even though its parent company, United Technologies, made $15 billion in 2015.
A video of the Workers reacting angrily to the news went viral, and both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump used the event on the campaign trail to illustrate the plight of U.S. Workers and rail against the Free Trade Deals that both candidates said were to blame for Carrier’s cavalier outsourcing.
In December, Trump appeared to be making good when he announced he had saved 1,100 jobs at Carrier.
In fact, he had helped negotiate a $7 million incentives package that convinced the company to keep about 800 of the 1,350 jobs in Indianapolis - leaving about 550 still headed for Mexico.
But Trump glossed over this in his public statements, while apparently counting hundreds of engineering jobs that were never slated to leave in his public tally.
This didn’t sit well with Jones.
In an interview with The Washington Post, he said Trump had “lied his ass off.”
In a CNN interview, Jones - who has the gravelly voice of a smoker and is missing a near-front tooth, said about Trump: “You made a promise to keep all these jobs. You halfway delivered.”
It didn’t take long for Trump to hit back via his favorite medium of communication: “Chuck Jones … has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!,” Trump tweeted on December 7th.
Immediately, Jones started receiving threats via e-mail, social media and calls to the Union Local and his personal cell phone. Jones told The Post that some callers made reference to his children and asked the make of his car.
But Jones says he isn’t scared of Trump and his rabid Twitter followers.
In an interview with In These Times, he discussed the effects of plant closures on Working Class Communities and what the Carrier saga says about the future of the Democratic Party.
You have the distinct honor of being the first U.S. Union Leader to be attacked by the president-elect on Twitter. How does it feel?: I didn’t expect it. The Post didn’t misquote me by any means - I said some pretty harsh things about Trump. Right afterwards, I got a call from a friend: “Hey, Trump’s ‘hammering you’ on Twitter.” And I started laughing. But then my phone started going wild.
Have things calmed down for you and the Local?: For the most part. We’re still getting a few calls and e-mails and letters - you got your wackos out there. But overall, I would say we’ve actually gotten a very positive response in support of the position we took. At one point, we had three secretaries answering the phone and we were trying to keep a tally. Eventually we started losing track. I’d say 10-to-1 positive overall, though. We got a few threats, but that’s to be expected, I guess. I’ve been doing this job for 30 years, so when he said I’m not good at my job - that doesn’t bother me. I know what I’ve done in the Labor Movement for the last 30 years.
Does it worry you that this could be the new normal under Trump - anyone who challenges him will get his Twitter hordes sicced on them?: I was really surprised that he reacted the way he did. When Obama was elected, my God, all the stuff people were saying about him, but he didn’t react. But Trump does. He never, ever said I was wrong on my numbers. The only thing he wanted to do was personally assault me. Anybody’s gotta be concerned about attacks, but if somebody feels like the president has said something wrong, they oughta speak up. He’s probably trying to prevent that from happening by attacking me.
How have your Members reacted to Trump’s intervention at Carrier? Do they buy his line that Mexicans are “taking our manufacturing jobs?:” When Trump and Pence came here in December, they toured the plant and had a whole dog and pony show. Trump kept talking about Carrier “manufacturing air conditioners,” but we don’t make air conditioners here - we make furnaces. They watched people making furnaces, then said, “These air conditioners will remain here, and this plant will produce more air conditioners than it ever has in the past.” That was a bad sign. Those who are getting their jobs saved are very grateful. There are others who said, “He’s a phony.” Some people are blaming the Mexican Workers and I’m saying, “Hey, ‘it’s not’ Mexican Workers ‘we’ve got an issue with.’ ‘They’re being exploited, too, they’re not making out on the deal - the corporations are.’”
To Read the Rest of This Labor News Story, Go to: http://inthesetimes.com/article/19791/chuck-jones-local-labor-leader-carrier-trump-twitter-trade-outsourcing