Pence ‘ready to work with’ Carrier to keep jobs in Indiana

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Why is Carrier moving its local operation to Mexico?

Gov. Mike Pence said that’s the question he asked company officials when he met with them Wednesday.

Their response: strict regulations from the U.S. Dept. of Energy. Pence stressed that Indiana’s business environment is not to blame.

“When I asked them, point blank, what the basis of that decision was, they talked to me about regulations,” Pence said. “The cost of doing business in the U.S.”

Chuck Jones, United Steelworkers 1999 President, said the real reason is corporate greed.

Jones said company leaders told him they pay workers at their Indianapolis plant about $20 dollars an hour, and they plan to pay workers $3 dollars an hour in Mexico.

Carrier workers lined up outside the governor’s office before and after the meeting with signs reading “keep it made in America.”

“We want them to know we’re not going to take it laying down,” Carrier employee Frank Staples said. “We want to keep the Hoosiers at work.”

Staples has been working for Carrier for 11 years. Now he’s checking out the job market.

Pence said Carrier will keep 400 research and development jobs in Indiana. The jobs are not manufacturing positons.

The governor also said Carrier will reimburse the state for $382 thousand dollars in training grants, and he said the company will pay back any tax breaks from Indianapolis.

Robert McDonough, president of Carrier’s parent company, called the meeting a “positive discussion,” as he rushed out of the statehouse. He did not say whether company leaders could change their minds about the move to Mexico.

But Pence said he’s not giving up.

“If there is any way to save these jobs in the state of Indiana, we told the company we’re ready to work with them,” Gov. Pence said. “We’re ready to sit down and find a way to do that.”

The governor said if the jobs cannot be saved, his team will do whatever is possible to get workers the training they need to find new jobs.

Carrier released a statement about the meeting Wednesday evening. It said, in part:

The productive meeting touched on the continued migration of Carrier’s suppliers and competitors to Mexico, as well as ongoing cost and pricing pressures driven, in part, by evolving regulatory requirements and standards. The company also reaffirmed its intention to work directly with the appropriate state and local agencies to reach a resolution on repayment of tax incentives.

Carrier noted that the decision is not a reflection on the positive business environment in Indiana. The company is keeping 400 headquarters, engineering and marketing jobs in the area, and also continues supporting its distributors and contractors who employ thousands of people across the state.

Carrier will continue to focus on constructive discussions with the state of Indiana, as well as with the United Steelworkers to help provide security and certainty for the company’s Indianapolis employees throughout the transition.

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