President-elect Donald Trump will visit Indianapolis Thursday to announce that he has reached an agreement with Carrier, the maker of air conditioning systems and other products, to reverse a planned plant closure in the city, fulfilling a campaign promise.
The company began preparations to eliminate 1,400 U.S. jobs as Trump’s campaign was sweeping through the GOP primaries. In February, an executive informed plant employees that their jobs would be terminated. Within weeks, Trump, who railed against the impact of “unfair” trade deals on the campaign trail, incorporated the story into his pitch to voters.
“Here’s what’s going to happen,” Trump said Indianapolis in April before the Indiana primary. “I’ll get a call from the head of Carrier and he’ll say, ‘Mr. President, we’ve decided to stay in the United States. That’s what’s going to happen—100%.”
It’s abnormal for a sitting president, let alone one waiting to assume office to conduct negotiations with American companies to keep them in the U.S. Such economic development incentives are generally handled through executive agencies, or at the state level. Trump will be joined by Vice President-elect and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on the plant visit Thursday, according to a transition official. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Indiana offered tax or other incentives to the company to maintain the jobs in the state.
“We are pleased to have reached a deal with President-elect Trump & VP-elect Pence to keep close to 1,000 jobs in Indy,” Carrier posted on Twitter. “More details soon.”
According to sources briefed on the matter, the President-elect is planning to make similar calls to companies planning or considering the outsourcing of American jobs, as he seeks to reverse a generational decline in U.S. manufacturing. Trump held several calls with Gregory Hayes, the CEO of Connecticut-based United Technologies, the parent company of Carrier, as he sought to reverse the decision in the last two weeks. Trump tweeted on Thanksgiving that he was “working hard” and “making progress” on encouraging the company to keep the jobs in the U.S. Sources said the company would keep 1,000 jobs in the state.
Trump, who has eschewed convention over the course of the presidential campaign and in the early days of forming his government, believes that he marshal the power of his new perch to bend corporations to his will. He recently informed aides to draw up a list of companies where his input and influence could be deployed to maintain jobs in America.
Over the course of the presidential campaign, Trump threatened to impose trade tariffs as high as 35 percent on American companies that off-shored manufacturing overseas. The populist and protectionist message struck a chord, as the Republican businessman-turned-politician won the Rust Belt states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.
It remains to be seen what induced Carrier to reverse course on a plan to close the plant. Carrier is only a small component of the massive defense-industrial conglomerate United Technologies Corp. and may have felt the goodwill earned by caving to Trump would pay off with its business with the government.