1,400 Workers 'Devastated' by Carrier's Plan to Move Indianapolis Facility to Mexico

A union rep said today there was "no hope" of saving the jobs.

ByABC News
February 16, 2016, 5:50 PM
The Carrier logo is pictured here in this undated file photo.
The Carrier logo is pictured here in this undated file photo.
Jean-Philippe-Ksiazek/AFP/Getty Images

— -- Editor’s Note: In a story broadcast on "America This Morning" this week about the Carrier company moving hundreds of jobs to Mexico, we incorrectly characterized the company’s reason for doing so. We said Carrier claimed it never got government stimulus money it was promised. Carrier never made that statement. Instead, the company says it will not be claiming a tax credit for which it is eligible. We regret the error.

A union representing workers at an Indianapolis facility that recently announced it would be moving to Mexico -- taking 1,400 U.S. jobs along with it -- met with company representatives today but said there was "no hope" of stopping the move.

Carrier, which makes heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration equipment, announced on Feb. 10 that it planned to relocate its Indianapolis, Indiana, manufacturing facility to Monterrey, Mexico, "over the course of an estimated three-year period."

"It's pretty damn bad when you've got people that figured they'd be able to retire there with some dignity and due to no fault of their own, now they're finding out they're not going to have a job," Chuck Jones, the president of United Steelworkers Local 1999, told RTV6 today.

Jones said the move would affect 1,400 workers. "They're devastated," he said.

"I'm just trying to support my family, you know," said Carrier employee Amber Needy, who was present on Feb. 10 when the announcement was made at the facility. "I'm just trying to survive."

Jones told RTV6 that the union's no. 1 objective was keeping the jobs located in Indianapolis but that Carrier did not think that was feasible.

"Their answer was basically that because of the wage discrepancies, they didn't see it being possible that was going to happen," he said.

According to Jones, Indianapolis workers make about $20 an hour on average compared to the $3 an hour Carrier would pay Mexican workers.

In a statement posted on the company's website, Carrier said it was moving the site to existing Carrier manufacturing facilities in Monterrey.

"The plan anticipates no immediate impact on jobs as the relocation would occur in phases, with work movement expected to begin in 2017 and estimated project completion in 2019. ... The Indianapolis manufacturing facility will continue to meet customers' needs without disruption throughout the transition," the statement said.

"This move is intended to address the challenges we continue to face in a rapidly changing HVAC industry, with the continued migration of the HVAC industry to Mexico, including our suppliers and competitors, and ongoing cost and pricing pressures driven, in part, by new regulatory requirements," Chris Nelson, president of HVAC Systems and Services North America, said in the statement.

Jones and other union representatives met with Carrier earlier today. Talks had ended by midday but he said further meetings would be scheduled as the union negotiated extra benefits such as additional vacation and wages for the affected workers. He said while some workers would likely retire, others would seek training and schooling.

Michelle Caldwell, Carrier's communications manager for the U.S./Canada, said the company did not discuss union negotiations.

"Impacted salaried employees will receive separation benefits, subject to eligibility requirements and other conditions. Specific information regarding severance and other benefits will be provided to all impacted salaried employees individually. We will discuss the potential separation package for the represented hourly workforce with our local union representatives and we will inform impacted employees of the results of those discussions," she said.

When asked about the wages Mexican workers would be paid, Caldwell said: "The wages of our represented hourly employees are determined through negotiations with our local union representatives, and that information is public. We pay our employees competitive wages wherever we operate, but we do not discuss the specific salary information of our employees."

Caldwell said Carrier understood that this is an "emotional time" for workers.

"We recognize the impact on our employees and their families," Caldwell said. "We respect their wishes to express their own personal opinions."