Mayor Hogsett announces task force for Carrier, Rexnord jobs

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Fighting to keep jobs in Indianapolis
Fight to save jobs

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Mayor Joe Hogsett isn't letting another 350 jobs move to Mexico without a fight.

He's asking Rexnord what the city and union workers can do to keep the jobs here. At the same time, Hogsett is stepping up efforts to help families losing their paychecks.

Another 1,400 Carrier workers are expected to lose their jobs when that manufacturer shuts down and moves to Mexico, too.

Josh Shartzer has a working wife, a mortgage, a car payment, and six children, one looking at colleges. We talked with Josh while he sat with two of his kids on the front porch of their modest west side home.

"I am sitting here thinking, 'How in the heck am I going to pay for all this now? What's going to happen?'" he said.

Josh is one of 350 Rexnord workers who found out Friday the company plans to move to Mexico.

"I'm still numb," he said, shaking his head. "I'm shell shocked."

Hogsett sounded the same way.

"Our city was ambushed yet again," the mayor told reporters.

He went on to explain that his first job is to keep the company here. He offered to meet Rexnord's president in Milwaukee.

"He did not ask me to book a flight, but he seemed open to conversations," Hogsett said.

In the meantime, the new Carrier-Rexnord Task Force is responsible for connecting about 1,700 laid-off workers to a variety of government assistance and job training programs.

Chuck Jones, the president of the United Steel Workers Local 1999 admits there are plenty of available jobs. But Jones said workers don't have the skills required for many of them.

As for the other "Help Wanted" signs everyone sees, Jones explained, "Some of the jobs they are talking about, you got to be able to say, 'Do you want fries with that?' They pay minimum wage."

The faces of the task force members standing behind the mayor Wednesday told the story. There wasn't a hopeful or encouraging look among them.

"The truth is, I remain cautiously optimistic," Hogsett said. "But we've been down this road before."

So has Josh Shartzer.

"Talk is good. These programs put in place are going to help some people," he said. "Is it going to cater to everybody? No."

To help get the help to people who need it, the mayor is appointing a new Economic Recovery Coordinator. The position will be paid for by a federal grant and a portion of the $1.2 million of tax incentives the city took back from Carrier.

Hogsett says his administration is seeing whether Rexnord received any similar tax assistance the company should be required to return to the city.