Layoffs began Thursday at the Carrier factory in Indianapolis, where last year President-elect Donald Trump celebrated a deal to save jobs from moving to Mexico.
Robert James is president of the United Steelworkers local representing Carrier workers. He was at the factory before some laid-off employees’ final shifts.
“They were in good spirits, basically, because they were wishing the retirees well,” James says. “But I’m quite sure that there is a lot of concern as to what their future holds.”
Exiting workers are getting a week’s pay for every year they worked, plus six months of health insurance under a deal with the union.
Some have also applied for what’s called Trade Adjustment Assistance – a federal benefit for people whose jobs are affected by global trade. James says workers could start using that money on training for new jobs as soon as Monday.
But he expects a tough transition, especially for workers who spent years at Carrier.
“I mean, when you’re making $20, $22 an hour or more, to go back out in this market – there are no more $20-an-hour jobs starting,” he says.
The next round of layoffs is set for December.