Trump says union head who accused him of lying about saving 1,100 jobs has 'done a terrible job'

President-elect Donald Trump addresses an audience at Crown Coliseum on Dec 6, 2016 in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
President-elect Donald Trump addresses an audience at Crown Coliseum on Dec 6, 2016 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Donald Trump clashed on Wednesday (Dec 7) with a union official who accused the president-elect of lying about the number of jobs saved in a deal to keep air conditioner maker Carrier from moving some jobs from Indiana to Mexico.

Mr Chuck Jones, president of United Steelworkers Local 1999, which represents workers at United Technologies Corp's Carrier plant in Indianapolis, in an interview on CNN criticised Mr Trump for at least the second time in two days over the deal.

Mr Trump, in a Twitter post on Wednesday, offered a sharp reply: "Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers Local 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!"

On Tuesday, Mr Jones told The Washington Post that when Mr Trump spoke at the Carrier factory last week, "he got up there and, for whatever reason, lied his ass off".

Indiana state officials have agreed to give Carrier US$7 million (S$9.92 million) in tax breaks to encourage it to keep about 1,100 jobs in the state, although about 300 of the jobs are in the company's headquarters and were not scheduled to go to Mexico.

Only 800 of the positions are union factory jobs, and Carrier still plans to send an estimated 1,300 jobs to Mexico.

Some employees are disappointed, Mr Jones said on CNN on Wednesday. "We had a lot of our members, when the word was coming out of 1,100, they thought that they would have a job," he said.

In more remarks on CNN later, Mr Jones responded to Mr Trump's Twitter post.

"That's pretty low-down, low life," he said. "He doesn't like to be challenged, and I challenged him."

Mr Trump, who made tough talk on trade a centerpiece of his election campaign, had vowed to impose hefty tariffs if Carrier did not reverse course on shifting jobs to Mexico.

Mr Trump posted another tweet after Mr Jones' later remarks on CNN.

"If United Steelworkers 1999 was any good, they would have kept those jobs in Indiana," Mr Trump wrote.

Mr Jones told the Washington Post that he was threatened by Trump supporters.

Half an hour after the tweets, the union leader's phone began to ring and kept ringing, he said.

One voice asked: What kind of car do you drive? Another said: We're coming for you.

He wasn't sure how these people found his number.

Mr Jones said later on MSNBC: "I've been doing this job for 30 years and you know I've heard everything from people who want to burn my house down shoot me," he added.

"So I take it with a grain of salt and I don't put a lot of faith in that and I'm not concerned about it and I'm not getting anybody involved. I can deal with people that makes stupid statements and move on."