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The union leader Donald Trump condemned for questioning the president-elect’s claims about jobs saved at an Indiana Carrier plant brushed off threats he has received and said of the incoming commander-in-chief has "a little bit of spunk to him."
"I'm not offended or anything else by his comments, and they really don’t faze me one way or another," United Steelworkers Local 1999 President Chuck Jones said on MSNBC Thursday, a day after Trump went on a Twitter tirade against the union leader.
Jones has said Trump "lied his a— off" and accused him of taking credit for saving 1,100 jobs in the deal to keep a Carrier plant in Indianapolis, when 300 of those jobs were never scheduled to be lost in the first place and hundreds of others workers will still be laid off.
A spokesperson for Carrier confirmed to NBC News Thursday that the deal with the state that includes $7 million in incentives will keep 800 jobs in Indianapolis that were scheduled to be lost under a planned move to Mexico.
The previously announced plan would have shed 1,400 jobs. The company said 600 workers will still lose their jobs when the company moves a fan coil manufacturing line.
Trump responded to Jones’ criticism late Wednesday with a pair of Tweets in which the president-elect said 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 on MSNBC that “maybe I could have phrased it in a different manner,” but he doesn’t regret speaking out. "You know, I got to give the guy credit. He’s got a little bit of spunk to him,” he said of Trump.
Jones said he appreciated Trump saving as many jobs as he did under the deal, but he told CNN Wednesday, "I just wish that he’d have had the numbers down." Jones repeated praise for the president-elect’s role in saving 800 jobs Thursday as well.
Jones supported Bernie Sanders during the campaign but said in the end "I held my nose and voted for Hillary Clinton.” He said some of his colleagues support Trump, but so far the response has been positive.
Jones said in an op-ed in the Washington Post Thursday that Carrier stood to save $65 million by moving to Mexico, and the union couldn’t match that unless wages were cut to $5 an hour and all benefits were cut.
He said in the op-ed that he felt betrayed when Trump announced 1,100 jobs had been saved, and then Carrier said 550 would be laid off.
"Trump didn’t tell people that, though. When he spoke at our plant, he acted like no one was going to lose their job. People went crazy for him. They thought, because of Trump, I’m going to be able to provide for my family," Jones said in the op-ed.
"All the while, I’m sitting there, thinking that’s not what the damn numbers say. Trump let people believe that they were going to have a livelihood in that facility,” Jones wrote. “He let people breathe easy. When I told our members the next day, they were devastated."
Carrier said a plan to move a United Technologies Electronic Controls plant from Huntington, Indiana to Mexico remains in place. Seven-hundred jobs in Indiana will be lost in the move. United Technologies is the parent company of Carrier.