"The man did what he promised he would do"
For months, employees at Carrier’s Indianapolis plant have closely followed the company’s plans to close the factory and Donald Trump’s promise to keep it from doing so. But none were prepared for the shock on Tuesday when they heard the President-elect had reached an agreement with the air conditioning company that would keep nearly 1,000 jobs in Indiana.
“I just couldn’t believe that this guy, all this stuff he said the whole campaign—he’s not even president yet and he worked on this deal with the company,” Carrier employee T.J. Bray, 32, told Fortune. “I’m just in shock. A lot of the workers are in shock. We can’t believe something good finally happened to us. It felt like a victory for the little people.”
Bray has worked for Carrier for more than 14 years, and he said he was one of the biggest critics of the company’s decision in February to move manufacturing operations to Mexico.
In a tweet on Tuesday night, Carrier said it had reached a deal with Trump that would keep nearly 1,000 jobs in Indiana. The plant in question employs about 1,400 workers. “More details soon,” Carrier said in the post. Trump, who had campaigned on a promise to keep companies from moving jobs overseas, plans to travel to the plant on Thursday for a formal announcement of the deal.
It’s not clear what motivated Carrier to change its plans, and employees and union members are still waiting to learn details about the deal. Some jobs will most likely still move to Mexico, per the company’s original plan.
“I, for one, took it as a campaign ploy,” said Chuck Jones, president of United Steelworkers Local 1999 union, which represents Carrier workers. “We kept on hammering on Trump to uphold his campaign promises, and he got involved, and the man did what he promised he would do.”
Jones said his union experience with fighting factory closures—often unsuccessfully—had made him skeptical.
“I’m shocked. I’ve been through about eight or 10 plant closures, and this was complete shock,” said Jones, who didn’t support Trump during the presidential race and would still not call himself a Trump supporter. “He was able to save 1,000 jobs, so the man is deserving of some gratitude in order to get done what he got done.”
Robin Maynard, a Carrier employee of 24 years, was out with a friend on Tuesday when his wife called to make sure he had seen the news.
“I was shocked that it happened so quick, but I’m a firm believer in giving a man a chance to do what he says he was going to do,” said Maynard, who voted for Trump in part because of his promises to retain American jobs. At 53 years old, Maynard said he had been worried about the prospect of searching for work.
“I still have a daughter that’s in high school that will be looking to go on to medical school, and now I’ll know that I have an income that can support that and help her through it,” he said, adding that he doesn’t know yet if the Carrier agreement will mean pay cuts for him and other employees. “Hopefully it wouldn’t be extreme,” he said.
While Bray said he wasn’t a Trump supporter during the presidential campaign, he plans to be at the factory on Thursday for his announcement.
“I had issues with him and didn’t know what to think of him and believe in the things that he said,” Bray said. “But I’ll be the first one, if he comes here tomorrow, to shake his hand and thank him for saving our jobs.”