ABC News(NEW YORK) — Kip Glen was at work at the Carrier facility in Indianapolis on Tuesday night when the news began to spread that the company had reached a deal with President-elect Donald Trump that would save about 1,000 jobs that had been ticketed for Mexico.
“The spirit of the workers went straight up,” Glen told ABC News, “because [Trump] did what he said he was going to do and he went through with it. And he hasn’t even slept in the Oval Office yet.”
Glen, a Trump supporter, is among about 1,400 employees who learned in February that their jobs would be eliminated over three years as the heating and air-conditioning company Carrier gradually shuttered the plant and relocated its operations to Monterrey, Mexico.
An employee’s cell-phone video of the company’s announcement to stunned Carrier workers spread quickly on the internet and caught the attention of then-candidate Trump.
“Believe me, if I were in office right now, Carrier would not be leaving Indiana, that I can tell you,” Trump said at an April rally in Indianapolis.
Trump spoke frequently about Carrier on the campaign trail for months, vowing to not buy their products and threatening the company with a 35 percent tariff on any products made in Mexico and shipped back into the United States.
Mohan Tatikonda, a professor at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, told ABC News today that Trump’s consistent attacks on the company may have given incentive to Carrier to work something out with the incoming administration.
“If Mr. Trump wanted to, every week for the next four or eight years,” Tatikonda told ABC News, “he could say something damning about Carrier. That would mean just massive reduction in brand value and goodwill. It’s hard to quantify, but it isn’t small.”
Details of the impending deal have not been made public beyond a terse tweet from Carrier late Tuesday, saying the company was “pleased to have reached a deal” with Trump and VP-elect Mike Pence “to keep close to 1,000 jobs” in Indianapolis. It’s unclear at this point what influence Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail may have had on Carrier’s decision.
Carrier’s tweet was followed by two from the president-elect touting it as a “[g]reat deal for workers,” and announcing that he and Pence would be traveling to Indiana on Thursday.
The agreement reportedly involves incentives from the state, but officials with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation declined to provide more information in advance of the visit by Trump.
Trump made bringing back jobs to the U.S. a major part of his campaign platform.
Tatikonda said today that while he is “delighted for the Carrier workers,” it is important to know the details of the agreement before it can be fully assessed. “This is a spot solution for a specific facility at a specific point in time. So, it might not be generalizable or replicable to other settings,” he said.
He added that there was a “real risk that there will be an inflation of expectations by high-wage earners that the Trump administration will come in for each one of these spots as they arise.”
Trump tweeted earlier this month that Ford Motor Co. won’t be moving its Lincoln production from Kentucky to Mexico. Trump said in the tweet claiming credit for the decision that Bill Ford, the company’s executive chairman, telephoned him with the news. But the company said it never planned to move the entire plant.
Trump’s nominee for treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, praised the deal with Carrier this morning as he entered Trump Tower in New York City for meetings with the president-elect.
“I think it’s terrific. The president-elect and the vice president-elect picked up the phone and called them and said we want to keep jobs here. I can’t remember the last time a president did that,” Mnuchin told reporters this morning.
Carrier’s announcement in February that it was eliminating the 1,400 jobs was paired with grim news from another Indiana company, United Technologies Electronic Controls, that 700 jobs would be eliminated at its facility in Huntington.
Both companies are units of Hartford, Connecticut-based United Technologies Corporation, which also owns Pratt and Whitney, an aircraft engine manufacturer that does significant business with the federal government.
After the February announcements, Gov. Mike Pence and the state legislature went after the two companies to claw back hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, a quasi-state agency that made grants to the companies to train new and existing workers and to keep jobs in the state. Pence was then and remains the chairman of the board of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.
Carrier and UTEC eventually repaid the state more than $380,000 in state grants, and Carrier reimbursed the city of Indianapolis for $1.2 million in tax abatements.
A spokeswoman for the IDEC declined today to discuss the new deal with Carrier when reached by ABC News.
Carrier employees and officials of the United Steelworkers Union remained largely in the dark today about the particulars of the deal, but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm many of them were feeling.
“We thought it was over,” said TJ Bray, an insulator at the Indianapolis plant. “And it’s crazy to believe that our jobs are staying here. We are overjoyed right now.”
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