WASHINGTON — The union president slammed by Donald Trump on Twitter challenged the president-elect Thursday to back up his claim that a deal to discourage Carrier Corp. from closing an Indiana factory would save 1,100 American jobs.
“He overreacted, President-elect Trump did,” United Steelworkers Local 1999 President Chuck Jones told CNN. “He should have come out and tried to justify his numbers.”
Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence — governor of Indiana — visited Carrier’s Indianapolis factory Dec. 1 to celebrate the deal. Trump suggested then that the number of jobs saved could top 1,100.
Jones said following Trump’s announcement that the number of jobs saved is more like 800. “Are we pleased with some of the jobs being saved?” Jones told The Associated Press. “Yeah, without a doubt. But Trump is saying no more jobs are going to be leaving this country, and I think we could use a little more honesty.”
Late Wednesday, Trump tweeted: “Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers.”
That local union branch represents workers at Carrier’s Indianapolis plant.
Indiana officials said Dec. 1 the deal involved “preserving 1,069 high-wage jobs” as Carrier kept furnace manufacturing at the plant and received $7 million in tax incentives over 10 years. The AP reported the figure covered about 800 union and supervisor jobs that were set for outsourcing to Mexico — and included some 250 headquarters and engineering staff positions which the company had always said would remain in Indianapolis.
In a second tweet Wednesday night, Trump suggested to Jones: “Spend more time working — less time talking” and the union should “Reduce dues.”
About 30 minutes after Trump tweeted about Jones, the union leader started getting harassing phone calls, he told MSNBC.
He said one caller asked: “What kind of car do you drive?” Another said: “We’re coming for you.”
He told the cable news outlet he wasn’t sure how the callers found his number.
“Nothing that says they’re going to kill me, but, you know, you better keep your eye on your kids,” Jones told MSNBC. “I’ve been doing this job for 30 years, and I’ve heard everything from people who want to burn my house down or shoot me … I can deal with people that make stupid statements and move on.”