“Carrier, Trump Reach Deal to Keep Manufacturing Jobs in U.S.” trumpeted the post-Thanksgiving headlines. Then, as any media-savvy observer should expect by now, the story began to unravel.
The first stories seemed to be based on that tweets came from Carrier:
“We are pleased to have reached a deal with President-elect Trump & VP-elect Pence to keep close to 1,000 jobs in Indy. More details soon.”
“I will be going to Indiana on Thursday to make a major announcement concerning Carrier A.C. staying in Indianapolis. Great deal for workers!”
Back in February, Carrier announced that it would “close both the Indianapolis plant, with 1,400 workers, and another nearby facility with 700 workers.” Did Trump save those jobs? Not exactly, according to fact checkers and Carrier workers.
Trump claimed to have saved 1,100 jobs. Chuck Jones, president of the United Steelworkers 1999, which represents Carrier employees, said Trump “lied his ass off.”
There were 1,350 union jobs on the line in Indianapolis, Jones said. Now 730 of those production jobs will stay in Indianapolis, but 550 workers will lose their jobs. The 1,100 figure? That, Jones told the Washington Post, includes 730 production jobs that will stay plus 340 research and development jobs that were never in danger and 80 clerical and supervisory jobs. And the 700 jobs from Huntington, Indiana? Those are still going to Mexico.
Bottom line: of the 2100 jobs that were scheduled to go to Mexico, 1,280 are still going. About 800 (including clerical and supervisory) are staying in Indiana. And for that great victory, the state of Indiana will give Carrier seven million dollars in tax credits.
After Chuck Jones went public with these facts, Trump attacked him and the United Steelworkers union on Twitter. Jones isn’t backing down. He wrote in an op/ed published in the Washington Post:
“Some people have suggested that Trump didn’t mean to lie, he just got the numbers wrong. But I know that’s not true. On the campaign trail, Trump made perfectly clear how excellent a negotiator he is. I have negotiated hundreds of contracts. I know that if I’m going to have a fighting chance, I better damn well know the numbers.”
Angry phone calls and threats aren’t a problem for him, Jones said, but –
“What I can’t abide, however, is a president who misleads workers, who gives them false hope. We’re not asking for anything besides opportunity, for jobs that let people provide for their families. These plants are profitable, and the workers produced a good-quality product. Because of corporate greed, though, company leaders are racing to the bottom, to find places where they can pay the least. It’s a system that exploits everyone.”
Jones is angry. You should be, too. As James Fallows wrote in The Atlantic:
“Everything about ‘balance’ and ‘objectivity’ as news standards rests on a benefit-of-the-doubt assumption about public figures, and about the public audience. For the public figures, the assumption is that they’re at least trying not to lie, and that they’d rather not get caught. For the public audience, the assumption is that they’ll care about an ongoing record of honesty or deception. But those assumptions do not match the reality of Trump.”
For you and me, news consumers and civic participants, this means we must be skeptical and cautious, both about what Trump (or anyone in his administration) says, and about how it is reported. That’s not the way it’s supposed to work, but that’s our reality now.