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Carrier Corp. announces deal with Trump to keep jobs in Indiana

WASHINGTON -- Air conditioning company Carrier Corp. said Tuesday that it had reached a deal with President-elect Donald Trump to keep nearly 1,000 jobs in Indiana. Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence planned to travel to the state Thursday to unveil the agreement alongside company officials.

Trump confirmed the meeting on Twitter late Tuesday, promising a “Great deal for workers!”

In another Tweet, Trump celebrated: “We will keep our companies and jobs in the U.S. Thanks Carrier.”

Trump spent much of his campaign pledging to keep companies like Carrier from moving jobs overseas. His focus on manufacturing jobs contributed to his unexpected appeal with working-class voters in states like Michigan, which has long voted for Democrats in presidential elections.

The details of the agreement were unclear. Carrier tweeted that the company was “pleased to have reached a deal” with Trump and Pence to keep close to 1,000 jobs in Indianapolis.

A transition official confirmed that the president-elect and Pence, who is ending his tenure as Indiana governor, would appear with Carrier officials Thursday. The official insisted on anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the trip ahead of an official announcement.

Trump said last week that he was “making progress” on trying to get Carrier to stay in Indiana, sending this tweet on Thanksgiving:

In February, Carrier said it would shutter its Indianapolis plant employing 1,400 workers and move its manufacturing to Mexico. The plant’s workers would have been laid off over three years starting in 2017.

United Technologies Electronic Controls also announced then that it planned to move its Huntington manufacturing operations to a new plant in Mexico, costing the northeastern Indiana city 700 jobs by 2018. Those workers make microprocessor-based controls for the HVAC and refrigeration industries.

CBS News 4, the CBS affiliate in Indianapolis, said that the company, which manufactures heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration systems, planned to send work to Mexico starting next year. That move would have saved it $65 million a year in labor costs, according to the union that represents the workers.

Carrier and UTEC are both units of Hartford, Connecticut-based United Technologies Corp. - which also owns Pratt & Whitney, a big supplier of fighter jet engines that relies in part on U.S. military contracts.

Mr. Trump, whose own “Make America Great Again” hats and other Trump-branded clothing items use materials not made in the U.S., has called the intended closure of the Indianapolis factory “disgusting” and “un-American” over the course of his campaign. 

During an Indiana campaign stop in May, the then-GOP candidate told rally-goers that he could “100 percent guarantee” the plant would not leave if he were elected.

Carrier’s union says its Indianapolis workers average $34 an hour with benefits, and Mexican employees will make $6 dollars an hour with benefits, CBS News’ Mark Strassmann noted in April. 

Chuck Jones, president of United Steelworkers Local 1999, which represents Carrier workers, said of Tuesday’s news: “I’m optimistic, but I don’t know what the situation is. I guess it’s a good sign. ... You would think they would keep us in the loop. But we know nothing.”

The event Thursday in Indiana will be a rare public appearance for Trump, who has spent nearly his entire tenure as president-elect huddled with advisers and meeting with possible Cabinet secretaries. He plans to make other stops later this week as part of what advisers have billed as a “thank you” tour for voters who backed him in the presidential campaign.

CBS News’ Reena Flores contributed to this report.