Carrier workers devastated after learning they’ll soon lose their jobs

(WISH Photo)
(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An Indianapolis manufacturing facility is moving operations to Mexico, impacting 1,400 jobs.

Carrier, currently located on West Morris Street, will be moving operations to Monterrey, Mexico beginning in 2017. The move is expected to be complete in 2019.

A release by the company said there would be no immediate impact on jobs. The company says the proposal to move is subject to “discussions with local union representatives.”

“This decision is difficult and we recognize the impact on employees, their families and the community. We are committed to ensuring that our employees are treated respectfully and to working closely with their representatives throughout this transition,” said Chris Nelson, President of HVAC Systems and Services North America.

“You taking away from this community by taking this job, this plant away,” said Dominique Anthony, a Carrier employee who says he’s worked at the west side facility for 13 years. He said when he got into work Wednesday, they were ordered to shut down the machinery to attend a meeting.

“The president of Carrier came today and said we’re not making enough sales so they’re moving it to Mexico,” he said.

Anthony is one of 1,400 employees expected to lose their jobs. The company president said in a statement that challenges in the HVAC industry motivated the move and that doing so will be more cost effective. But the changes come at a cost for Anthony and his co-workers.

“I have almost 16 family members that work there are Carrier. They have to go and tell our family that we have lost our jobs to feed our family,” he said.

Luckily they have some time before that happens. And until that day comes, he and his co-workers plan to show up to work like they always have.

“I’m not going to take no buy-out, I’ll tell you that,” said Gregory Talley. He said he’s worked at the Carrier plant for 30 years. “It hurts, but I’m not taking a buy-out.”

Despite feeling knocked down, Anthony is trying to stand strong. “We still going to fight as a union. We going to stick together as a family,” he said.

Many of the workers expected to lose their jobs are represented by the United Steel Workers Local 1999, but Anthony said supervisors and other non-union workers will lose their jobs, too.

He and Talley are also worried about the small businesses that surround the plant. They said many workers visit Sully’s Bar and Grill or use the gas station that’s across the street. Talley fears the businesses will see a sharp drop in sales since many of their customers will eventually be out of work.

“It’s going to be just like what happened in Detroit. Same thing when GM and all the rest of the car makers went out throughout the years,” said Talley. “Just going to be abandoned.”

Mayor Joe Hogsett expressed his disappointment with the decision. “Today’s surprise announcement was without warning and incredibly disappointing,” Mayor Hogsett said. “While I am obviously concerned about the economic impact, my top priority is the well-being of the hardworking families affected by this decision.”

Hogsett says that the jobs will affect everyone in the community which is why he is creating a task force that will “convene local, state and federal resources and direct every tool at our disposal toward supporting these workers in the days ahead.”

The task force includes the organization Employ Indy, Indy Chamber, Congressman Andre Carson, US Senators Dan Coats and Joe Donnelly, Indianapolis-Marion County City County Council, United Steelworkers Local 1999 and more.

The task force’s responsibilities include coordinating job placement programs for workers and also trying to find them federal aid if possible.

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly also expressed his displeasure at the decision. “The announcements about Carrier and UTEC are very disappointing,” he said. “We have an outstanding workforce in Indianapolis, Huntington and across our state, and I remain committed to making sure every Hoosier who wants a job has a job. Our office stands ready to assist workers and families impacted by these decisions and to work with local, state and federal partners.”

A Carrier spokesperson says that the HVAC residential headquarters and engineering positions will remain in Indianapolis.

Shawn Christ, president of the Central Indiana Labor Council (CILC), made the following statement on Thursday:

“At a time when Hoosier families are working harder than ever to make ends meet, this news that Carrier will relocate its Indianapolis operations to Mexico comes as a slap in the face to the men and women who have made this plant profitable for the past 60 years.”

“What is even more puzzling about the timing of this announcement is that the company just negotiated a new four-year contract with the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1999 in 2014, and according to its own website, Carrier has an operating profit of $2.8 billion.”

“We stand united with the 1,400 Steelworkers who are affected by this callous decision and will support USW President Chuck Jones in any capacity as needed.”