As It Happens

Worker hopes Trump keeps his promise to stop factory moving to Mexico

During the 2016 presidential campaign Donald Trump vowed to keep a Carrier air-conditioning factory open in Indianapolis, Indiana. Plant worker and team leader, Paul Roell, says he voted for the president-elect because of that promise. But the company says it's still moving to Mexico.
US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump tours Staub Manufacturing Solutions in Dayton, Ohio on Sept. 21, 2016. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

The same pundits who were completely sure Donald Trump wouldn't win the United States presidency are now throwing out theory after theory as to why he did. One of those theories is that he appealed strongly to blue-collar workers.

Paul Roell is one of those workers. Six weeks out of high school, he started working at the Carrier air-conditioning and furnace manufacturing plant in Indiana. Roell has been with the factory for 17 years, but recently learned the production is set to shut down and move to Mexico in 2019.

But during the campaign, Donald Trump said he would keep the plant and all the jobs in Indiana. He boasted that the CEO would call him, Donald Trump, personally, to say he'd changed his mind about moving the plant. He even threatened to slap a 35 per cent tariff on goods coming into the U.S.

So far, the company has been unmoved. In fact, Carrier says it's sticking with its plan to relocate to Monterrey.
Paul Roell (right) shown with vice president-elect Mike Pence. (Paul Roell)

Roell spoke with As It Happens host Carol Off about why those campaign promises won him over and motivated him to vote for Trump. Here is part of their conversation.

Carol Off: Paul, when you were told that management was going to make this move, what was it like for people like yourself working at the factory?

Paul Roell: It was very demoralizing and just a big let down. We felt betrayed by the company that they were going to move when they had been telling us how profitable that we had been for them. It was just out of blue, out of nowhere, when they told us.

CO: I understand that some workers at the company in Indianapolis are going to Mexico to do training, Mexican workers are coming up to measure equipment for their factory. How does it feel to see all of that activity?

PR: It's just very demoralizing when they come in and they're doing that. Like I've said before, it's like you're going through a divorce, you're still in love with your wife, but she's having her new boyfriend come over and he's walking around in your house checking everything out.

CO: What did Mr. Trump promise in the election campaign? What did he promise people at the Carrier factory?

PR: He promised that after he was elected president that he would put a 35 per cent tax on any air conditioners and furnaces that Carrier shipped back across the border.

CO: This isn't just in general about manufactured goods coming from Mexico — this was specifically Carrier that he mentioned in his speeches. How did that feel when you heard him take on the very company that your were employed with, but about to lose your job from?

PR: It felt really great to have somebody on our side that was acknowledging the troubles and issues that we were going through — that they are willing to fight for us.
President-elect Donald Trump addresses the crowd during a campaign rally in Indianapolis, Indiana. (John Sommers II/Getty Images)

CO: Mr. Trump also predicted at the rallies that he attended that Carrier would actually call him up and say, "Sir, we've decided to stay in the United States."

PR: Yes, he said that. I'm kind of realistic when it comes to stuff like that. I don't really think that's how it's going to go. I think they may have discussion and they might talk about keeping some jobs here in America, instead of just shipping everything to Mexico.

CO: What has the company said since Mr. Trump became the president-elect? Have they said that they will reconsider the plan to move to Monterrey?

PR: No. On Friday, they issued a statement saying they are still going to do everything they can to help their employees with this transition.

A group made up mostly of union workers and their supporters march through the streets on April 29, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The marchers were protesting the Carrier Corp. plans to cut 1,400 manufacturing jobs in Indianapolis and move 2,100 jobs to Mexico. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

CO: So they're still going. By 2019, they will be gone and you'll be out of a job?

PR: Yes.

CO: How much of what Mr. Trump said influenced your decision to how you voted?

PR: That was probably about 50 per cent of the reason I voted for him. I also voted for his ideals and promises on how he is going to secure our border with Mexico and try to keep some of the refugees from the Muslim countries until they get vetted pretty well.

CO: Do you think that the promises that Mr. Trump made about the Carrier plant persuaded a lot of people that they should support him?

PR: I believe it did because, even if this doesn't work out, four years later they'll probably just turn around and go back to voting for the Democrats. But they just wanted to take at least a shot to save their jobs. I believe that Americans were losing jobs all the time. That is a big reason why he was able to get the votes to win.

For more on this story, listen to our full interview with Paul Roell.


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