Indiana union leaders on Friday rallied behind a local steelworkers representative who incurred the Twitter wrath of Donald Trump, pledging to keep calling out the president-elect on falsehoods while also offering to help the new administration prevent factory jobs from going abroad.
"We want to work with him. We want to keep jobs here in America. We want him to stand by his word and not just tweet out negative stuff about unfortunately a blue-collar worker that's doing nothing but waking up every single day trying to save jobs," Indiana AFL-CIO President Brett Voorhies said at a news conference.
Voorhies was referring to Chuck Jones, head of the United Steelworkers Local 1999, who said Trump "lied his a-- off" last week when he boasted that he'd helped keep 1,100 jobs at an Indianapolis air conditioning factory from moving to Mexico.
The deal Trump touted will actually keep 800 jobs at the Carrier plant in Indianapolis in exchange for $7 million in taxpayer-funded incentives. And parent company United Technologies will still close another Indiana plant to Mexico, a loss of about 550 jobs.
Trump responded with two tweets Wednesday saying Jones "has done a terrible job representing workers" and that "if United Steelworkers was any good they would have kept those jobs in Indiana."
Jones said he was targeted with harassing and threatening messages, but he did not back down from his criticism of Trump. At Friday's news conference, Jones called the Carrier announcement a "phony operation" and "a dog and pony show."
But Jones, who had supported Bernie Sanders and voted for Hillary Clinton, also said Trump deserved credit for saving the 800 Carrier jobs. He said he hadn't heard from Trump or his transition team since the spat, but said he'd gladly accept an offer to join forces.
Jones noted that there's plenty of work to be done: several other Indiana factories are planning to cut jobs and move to another country, including a Rexnord plant relocating to Mexico.
"If Trump is concerned about keeping jobs in the country ... we'll sit down and work out something to keep the damn jobs here," Jones said.