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04 March 2024

More layoffs at US factory despite deal with Trump

Photo: AFP/Getty


A US heating and air conditioning company laid off more than 200 factory workers Thursday despite a deal with Donald Trump intended to keep the plant from moving to Mexico.

Trump had hailed the late 2016 deal with the Carrier factory in Indiana, which he made shortly before becoming president, as keeping his campaign promise to save US manufacturing jobs.

The $7 million tax incentive deal kept the plant from moving to Mexico and saved approximately 1,100 jobs.

But Carrier's parent company United Technologies said the deal still allowed it to trim its workforce at the Indiana plant, and it engaged in two rounds of layoffs -- approximately 300 workers in July and another 215 on Thursday.

"We continue to actively engage with our workers and the community to provide impacted employees with resources to make a smooth transition," the company said in a statement.

Carrier factory worker Renee Elliott, who voted for Trump in the hopes that he would save her job, told a news conference Wednesday night that the president should have done more.

"I now feel betrayed. I feel angry. And I feel forgotten," said the 44-year-old who had worked at the plant as a press operator for five years.

The layoffs underscored the challenge of fulfilling Trump's campaign promise to save blue-collar American manufacturing jobs and prevent factories from relocating to other countries.

"The president doesn't have much of a role in private sector job creation -- certainly not in the short term," Michael Hicks, economics professor at Ball State University in Indiana, told AFP.

The US added 196,000 manufacturing jobs in 2017, but analysts say much of those gains are in positions requiring highly-skilled labor, such as operating robotics in automated factories.

"If you have a high school degree or less, and you have been putting together ball bearings... those jobs are being automated very quickly," Hicks said.

United Technologies has announced the closure of another plant in Indiana, as well, and an industrial bearings plant last year also shuttered in the state to move to Mexico, laying off 350 workers.