Bernie Sanders joined Carrier workers in Indianapolis on Friday to protest the company’s planned move to Monterrey, Mexico. The company is planning on laying off 1,400 workers in Indianapolis — and 2,100 overall — in order to save $65 million per year. United Technologies, which owns Carrier, met with United Steel Workers union representatives who attempted to negotiate away from the company’s planned move.
Union reps were told by United Technologies that in order to stay in Indianapolis, wages on average would have to plummet from $23 per hour to $5.85, well under the minimum wage. In a statement to local news station WRTV6, Carrier spokeswoman Michelle Caldwell was critical of the union’s representation of them in the media.
“The company never suggested our employees should work for $5.85. The union was told that to achieve the $65 million in annual savings resulting from the relocation, the average hourly wage rate would need to be $5.85 per hour. That is not possible and shows why the company believes the union cannot offer concessions sufficient to change the company’s intent to relocate.”
Bernie Sanders was in Indiana campaigning this week, and on Friday, he addressed a crowd of hundreds protesting at the Indianapolis State House. In a brief speech to the crowd, many of whom were sporting Bernie signs and shirts, Sanders vowed to stand alongside them and fight for their jobs.
“If we stand together, if we do not allow the Trumps and the others to try to divide us up … not only can we stop United Technologies from throwing thousands of Indianans out on the street, we can transform this country.”
According to BGA-Aeroweb, UTC’s profits are nothing to sneeze at. In 2014, Carrier’s division, UTC Climate, Controls & Security, reported an operating profit of $2.782 billion with an operating margin of 16.5 percent. Operating profit and margin in 2012 and 2013 were both lower than in 2014, indicating the company was growing and performing better. If a company’s operating margin increases year-to-year, it indicates the business is earning more per dollar on sales.
In layman’s terms, this means Carrier alone increased its profit and operating margins for several years running, and it outperformed expectations for 2015.
Since the move to Mexico was announced in February, the city’s Mayor, Joe Hogsett called on the company to repay a $1.2 million tax break within 30 days. That money will be set aside to retrain Carrier workers.
Bernie’s speech to the workers in Indianapolis highlights his focus on bringing back jobs to the American people. Sanders understands that the vitriol against illegal immigration is misplaced, and that Carrier’s impending move underscores this faulty rationale. Mexicans and other foreign nationals are not coming to the U.S. like they once did. On the contrary, our businesses are going to them, thanks to NAFTA and other trade agreements.
Carrier is just one portion of the behemoth that is United Technology. The parent company also owns Otis, an elevator manufacturer, Sikorsky Aircraft, and UTC Aerospace among others. Many of the conglomerate’s divisions have contracts with the federal government; the Department of Defense in particular. Its multiple contracts cover everything from military and commercial aircraft engines and parts, military helicopters, elevators, and HVAC and refrigeration systems, which fall under the Carrier brand.
Specifically, its major Department of Defense contracts include the C-17, the F-35 Lightning II, HH-60M, UH-60M Black Hawk, and the F-22 Raptor, programs Sanders may be familiar with as a long-time member of Congress.
Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies, grossed $56 billion in sales in 2015. It already has four plants in Monterrey, Mexico. Compared with the U.S. workers’ salary of $23 per hour, the average salary in the Monterrey Carrier plants is $3 per hour. In other countries around the world, the salary would be even lower.
Besides his speech to the demonstrators, Bernie Sanders also spoke with WRTV6 in a brief one-on-one interview. He didn’t mince words in describing Carrier’s decision to head south of the border.
“This company has failed and betrayed its own workers. It has betrayed the consumers of this country who buy their products. And all that it is motivated by — this is what United Technologies is about — is how can we make as much profit as we possibly can.”
Sanders also made it clear that should he become President of the United States, UTC’s federal contracts would be under threat for putting profit over people. And Sanders has a point. With billions of dollars in profits every year and multiple defense contracts, Carrier can more than afford to stay in Indianapolis. After all, for a multi-billion dollar company, a $65 million savings is pocket change.
[Photo by AJ Mast/AP Images]