Carrier Air Conditioning announced Tuesday that after negotiating with President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence, they would be keeping more than 1,000 jobs in the United States.
“We are pleased to have reached a deal with President-elect Trump & VP-elect Pence to keep close to 1,000 jobs in Indy. More details soon,” the company tweeted.
Trump and Pence are planning to announce the deal in full detail. “I will be going to Indiana on Thursday to make a major announcement concerning Carrier A.C. staying in Indianapolis,” Trump said.
One of Trump’s top campaign themes surrounded the issue of American companies closing their domestic plants to benefit from cheap labor and tax incentives offered in countries like Mexico. When Carrier announced in February that they were shutting down their Indianapolis plant and moving their operations south of the border, they became a tangible symbol of Trump’s theme.
“So many hundreds and hundreds of companies are doing this,” Trump said of Carrier’s move at one of the debates. “We have to stop our jobs from being stolen from us. We have to stop our companies from leaving the United States.”
Critics spent the campaign scoffing at Trump’s promise to put an end to the manufacturing exodus. And Trump himself hinted only vaguely at his plans. He proposed hitting the companies with import tariffs, but that idea seemed secondary to his broader plan: Simply sit down with the chiefs of these companies and negotiate an agreement that would bring back American jobs. And everyone laughed.
Well, who’s laughing now?
Now, we don’t know what kind of deal Trump made with Carrier. Once we know the details, maybe we won’t be quite so exuberant about the outcome. But that’s unlikely. Trump had a lot of leverage here. Companies that choose profit over patriotism are going to pay a heavy PR price simply by virtue of Trump’s bully pulpit.
Assuming that Trump didn’t give Carrier any incentives that would egregiously violate the integrity of the free market, we can only be impressed by this remarkable turn of events. The man’s not even in the White House yet, and he’s already coming through on promises his critics said he had no chance of fulfilling. You can say it’s a “symbolic” victory, but it’s certainly not symbolic for the employees of Carrier Air Conditioning.
And even if it is largely symbolic…well, symbols matter.