President-elect Donald Trump took a break Wednesday from preparing to lead the free world to write a nasty tweet about a guy in Indiana he saw on TV.
“Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers,” Trump tweeted. “No wonder companies flee country!”
Jones has been criticizing Trump all week, but the mean tweet came 20 minutes after Jones had been on CNN explaining that Trump has exaggerated the number of jobs Trump saved by striking a deal to stop Carrier Corporation from closing its factory in Indianapolis.
Earlier this year Carrier announced plans to close the factory and shift production to Mexico, laying off 1,400 workers in the process. Multiple times during the campaign, Trump blasted Carrier as an example of bad U.S. trade policy that makes it profitable to offshore jobs, something Trump said he would stop as president.
Thanks to a deal with Trump and the state of Indiana, Carrier announced last week that “close to 1,000 jobs” would remain at the factory, which would continue to manufacture gas furnaces. When it later revealed additional details, the company then said “more than 1,000 jobs” would stay.
Trump has been saying the agreement saved 1,100 jobs.
While he’s praised Trump for striking the deal, Jones has been pointing out since last week that not all of the jobs Carrier is talking about had been slated for Mexico in the first place.
“The actual number of jobs saved is 730 bargaining unit jobs ― the workers, the union members ― and another 70 office, supervisory clerical workers from management,” Jones said on CNN Wednesday. “And what they are doing is counting in 350 some-odd more that were never leaving this country at all.”
The company has not contradicted Jones’ explanation, and neither did Trump. The company has said since earlier this year that several hundred jobs would remain in Indiana.
Jones told The Huffington Post in a brief interview Wednesday that he has been receiving threatening phone calls and emails for the past day or so in response to his criticism of Trump.
“I got emails, a lot of phone calls last night, a lot of phone calls today,” Jones said, adding that he considered the blowback part of his job sticking up for workers. “I don’t put a whole lot of faith in what people say.”
Shortly after Jones’ CNN appearance, Trump sent his tweet. So CNN immediately had Jones dial in for a reaction to Trump’s claim that Jones is bad at his job.
“That must mean I’m doing a good job,” Jones said, “because these people are making a decent wage at Carrier, and I feel like I’m somewhat involved in making that happen.”
Trump then sent another tweet saying that if the union was any good, “they would have kept those jobs in Indiana.”
Trump’s core economic message during the campaign was that bad trade policy like the North American Free Trade Agreement makes it too easy for companies to offshore production to lower-wage countries like Mexico ― not that unions are bad at saving jobs.
“Instead of saying, ‘Hey, I got that wrong and Jones is right on his numbers,’ then he wants to attack me,” Jones said. “I think that is pretty low down, low life.”
This story has been updated to include the most recent HuffPost interview with Jones.