Just a few miles away from the Carrier plant in Indianapolis where President-elect Donald Trump celebrated his role in stopping 730 jobs from moving to Mexico earlier this month, another corporation is shutting its factory and moving it to Mexico.
The move, which will send nearly 300 jobs south of the border, comes in direct defiance of Trump, who tweeted against it on December 2:
Rexnord of Indiana is moving to Mexico and rather viciously firing all of its 300 workers. This is happening all over our country. No more!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2016
But after the tweet, not a peep.
Rexnord Corporation first announced in October that it would close the plant, which produces industrial mechanical goods, such as bearings. Local news outlets reported that the company was looking to save $15 million annually by relocating, although the company was hardly hurting; “it generated $24.6 million in profit during its fiscal second quarter, up from $22.6 million a year earlier.”
In fact, not only is Rexnord moving the jobs to Mexico and the plant scheduled to close by June, but as part of a severance package announced on Friday, current employees would be required to train the Mexican workers who will replace them.
Days after the Carrier deal was announced, Trump specifically vowed to end the practice of American workers being made to train their foreign replacements, saying that it was “demeaning” and promising that “we are not going to let it happen to our people anymore.”
Machinist Tim Mathis, who was informed about the package on Friday, has worked at the Rexnord plant for 12 years, and it was the second time he had been told his job would be shipped to another country. Previously, he worked at a nearby Indiana plant that closed down in 2004; 80 percent of those jobs were sent to Shanghai, China.
In an interview with The Intercept, Mathis described the humiliation of having to train his replacement.
“For our jobs to be offshored is one thing. But for the company to hold our severance package over us provided that we train our replacement workers is unbelievable,” Mathis said. “That’s a sad day in America and it appears that our politicians just continue to sit back and allow this stuff to happen.”
Rexnord’s move comes three weeks after Trump and the vice president-elect, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, offered generous tax credits to Carrier’s parent company United Technologies to persuade it to keep some jobs in the United States (over 500 Carrier jobs will still be going to Mexico).
Despite the shortcomings of the deal — it relied on rewarding the company with taxpayer dollars for keeping some jobs stateside rather than threatening the company with punishment for moving overseas — it was popular among Americans. One recent poll found that 60 percent of American voters had a more favorable view of Trump after the Carrier intervention.
But a big question remained: Was the Carrier deal a one-off by Trump to boost his popularity as he prepares to move into the Oval Office, or was it a sign that the president-elect was committed to stopping the offshoring of Americans jobs?
Rexnord quickly became a test case, with Trump’s tweet. So far, however, there is no sign that Trump has contacted the company.
The workers at the Rexnord plant are represented by United Steelworkers Local Union 1999, the same union that represented the workers at the Carrier plant where Trump and Pence intervened.
Don Zering, the union’s unit leader for the Rexnord plant, told The Intercept that he hasn’t heard anything from Trump and is not sure what the president-elect is telling Rexnord behind the scenes, if anything. But he said he’d like Trump to talk to the company about their jobs.
“I feel like Mr. President-elect Trump needs to get ahold of [Rexnord CEO Todd Alan Adams] and tell him to return his call to try to see if there’s anything we can do to keep this plant open and not moving it down south,” Zering said.
And Zering said the company should respond if Trump contacts them. “I think it’s a slap in his face in [Rexnord headquarters in] Milwaukee if they can’t call him back and talk to him,” he said.
The union local’s president, Chuck Jones, has criticized Trump for exaggerating the number of jobs he saved at the Carrier plant, noting that a significant number were still going to Mexico.
Trump responded Dec. 7 with a pair of tweets taking aim at Jones, rather than Carrier:
Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 8, 2016
If United Steelworkers 1999 was any good, they would have kept those jobs in Indiana. Spend more time working-less time talking. Reduce dues— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 8, 2016
The Intercept spoke to Jones, who pleaded for Trump’s intervention at the Rexnord plant.
“I appreciate what he’s been able to do, keeping 730 jobs here in this country, but needless to say we’re losing 550 jobs at Carrier, we’re losing 300 at Rexnord,” Jones said.
Trump “made a comment that he’s interested in keeping these manufacturing jobs in this country,” Jones said. “That’s always been our goal and if he wants to sit down … with us we would definitely be interested in doing that see what we can do to keep Rexnord.”
Workers at the Rexnord plant are waiting for Trump to keep his promise.
“He led us to believe that these corporations would be calling his office telling him that they changed their mind and that they want to stay in the U.S,” Mathis, the Rexnord machinist, said. “We want him to do all that he can to keep jobs here.”