United Steelworkers Local 1999 President Chuck Jones found fellow union leaders and members defending him after being publicly criticized by President-elect Donald Trump.
Jones called Trump a liar after the president-elect took credit for saving 1,100 union jobs at the Carrier furnace plant in Indianapolis, allegedly preventing the company from moving its plant to Mexico. In reality, the number of jobs retained at the plant came between 700 and 800, with 600 more layoffs expected by the middle of 2017.
Carrier’s deal with Trump also called for a $16 million investment into the facility and $7 million in tax credits from the State of Indiana, but that investment might cost more jobs. According to Greg Hayes, the CEO of United Technologies, some of that investment will go to automation to replace the jobs Trump allegedly saved.
“We’re going to … automate to drive the cost down so that we can continue to be competitive,” he said during a recent interview on CNBC. “Is it as cheap as moving to Mexico with lower cost labor? No. But we will make that plant competitive just because we’ll make the capital investments there. But what that ultimately means is there will be fewer jobs.”
United Technologies is Carrier’s corporate parent.
Jones told The Washington Post that during the meeting/rally at Carrier, Trump took the stage “and, for whatever reason, lied his ass off. Trump and Pence, they pulled a dog and pony show on the numbers. I almost threw up in my mouth.”
When word of Jones’ criticism got to Trump, he took his feelings to Twitter.
“Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers,” tweeted Trump. “No wonder companies flee country!”
In another tweet, Trump said, “If United Steelworkers 1999 was any good, they would have kept those jobs in Indiana. Spend more time working—less time talking. Reduce dues.”
The United Steelworkers fired back at Trump. “Chuck is a hero not a scapegoat: you, others know about Carrier because of his, members’ tireless work since Day One to save ALL jobs there,” the union’s official Twitter account said.
Jones said that he has received death threats for speaking out against Trump.
32BJ President Hector Figueroa said the attacks on Jones and others like him must stop.
“Jones was doing his job defending working men and women and the families that depend on them by speaking out and telling the truth about the deal with Carrier brokered by Donald Trump,” said Figueroa. “To attack Jones and his family is not only beyond the pale but anti-worker and un-American. To speak the truth is a freedom generations of Americans died for, and more than worth defending today and forever. We call on those who cherish that freedom, including those in positions of influence, to join us in standing with Chuck Jones, loudly and publicly.”
Other union leaders decided to show their support via the social media hashtag #ImWithChuck. Organized by AFSCME President Lee Saunders and AFT President Randi Weingarten, the statement that both wanted supporters to share on Facebook or Twitter read, “Donald Trump ran for president promising to respect the working people of America. Now, at his very first opportunity to show respect to America’s working families, the president-elect has failed the test.”
In an emailed letter to union members, Weingarten and Saunders said everyone connected to the labor movement needed to stand up to Trump and hold him accountable for his words and actions.
“And because Jones told the truth, Trump—the president-elect of the United States—responded by personally attacking Jones and our union sisters and brothers across this country,” read the letter. “Trump took to Twitter and said Jones ‘has done a terrible job representing workers’ because Jones wouldn’t let Trump get away with lying. He suggested the steelworkers should be working harder. Trump attacked a union activist for standing up for his members.”