Last week Americans were outraged when a cell phone video emerged featuring a company president announcing to 1,400 workers that the company was moving their jobs to Mexico.
The company in question, Carrier, produces ventilation, heating, refrigeration and air conditioning equipment. Its founder, an American engineer named Willis Carrier, invented the modern day air conditioner in 1902.
On February 10, 2016, the company started by an American who changed the world announced to employees that they were going to move their Indiana manufacturing facilities to 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
Jones said the company’s decision to move production to Mexico was devastating to the 1,400 workers.
“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 tried to negotiate keeping the jobs in Indianapolis, but Carrier did feel it would be a good “business decision.”
“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, Carrier’s American workers currently make about $20 an hour on average, while Mexican workers will be paid about $3 an hour for the same work.
Carrier posted a statement on the company’s website explaining that it was moving production to an existing Manufacturing plant in Monterrey, Mexico.
“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 reps met with Carrier representatives this week to discuss plans to schedule more meetings addressing concerns about remaining vacation and wage benefits for the affected workers. He stated that some workers will likely retire while others will seek additional job training and schooling.
Michelle Caldwell is Carrier’s communications manager for the U.S/Canada region; she stated that the company doesn’t 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 questioned about the wage difference between Mexican and American workers, 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.”
Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren slammed Carrier’s “business” decision, noting that its parent company, United Technologies, made a 6.2 billion dollar profit in 2014.
She said the company’s decision to move production from the U.S. to Mexico was either based on greed or incompetent management.
“They didn’t manage the company, so now they are laying off the ones who were doing their jobs, the workers,” Greta said.
“It’s disgraceful. If I need a new air conditioner, it is not going to be an Air Carrier. That’s for sure.”
Here’s the video.
According to Fortune, Louis Chenevert, the former CEO of United Technologies, floated away from the company last February on a beautiful golden parachute made of 195 million dollars.
Meanwhile, Caldwell wanted people to know that Carrier understands that this is an “emotional time” for the employees it plans to shaft.
“We recognize the impact on our employees and their families,” Caldwell said. “We respect their wishes to express their own personal opinions.”