Video: Then President-elect Donald Trump made a very public visit to the factory six months ago. (Photo: Reuters) (ABC News)
It was a big splash for US President Donald Trump when he announced the deal with the Carrier furnace and air conditioning company back in December.Freshly elected off the back of a populist platform and support from the forgotten working and middle classes in America's inland, the then President-elect was already delivering.
"These companies aren't going to be leaving anymore. They're not going to be taking people's hearts out," Mr Trump declared, flanked by former Indiana Governor Mike Pence at an event in Indianapolis.
"They're not going to be announcing, like they did at Carrier, that they're closing up and they're moving to Mexico.
"Over 1,100 jobs," he repeated proudly, over and over.
Photo: Support for Mr Trump was strong in Indianapolis, where he had promised to protect manufacturing jobs. (Reuters: Mike Segar)
It was a huge moment for factory staff and their families.
"People were cheering, crying, they thought their jobs were saved," then president of the United Steelworkers union Chuck Jones said.
But fast forward to this week and more than 300 Carrier staff have been laid off — their jobs heading to Monterrey, Mexico.
Photo: Brenda Battle has been devastated by the redundancies, but is relieved to have some closure. (ABC News: John Mees)
Indianapolis local Brenda Battle worked at the plant for 24 years.
"I feel like 100 pounds of pressure has been lifted up off of my brain," she said after work on her last day.
The uncertainty and confusion over the last few months had weighed heavily on her. Like many, she thought Mr Trump's deal would save her job.
"He blew smoke up our ass," she said.
"Because if he was going to do what he said he was going to do we'd still have jobs."
Carrier moves to Mexico, despite Trump dealThe agreement with Carrier preserved 800 factory jobs; the figure of 1,100 touted by Mr Trump included clerical and managerial positions that were never set to move.
The announcement also sparked hope among many of the workers that the company's broader plans to move particular lines to Mexico would also change.
Union leader Chuck Jones was attacked on Twitter by Mr Trump after he pointed out the misrepresentation in the numbers.
"Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!" Mr Trump tweeted.
Photo: Union leader Chuck Jones was publicly attacked on Twitter after criticising Mr Trump. (ABC News: John Mees)
But the union's numbers were right, and Mr Jones stands by his criticism of Mr Trump.
"He misled people when it wasn't necessary," he said.
"My problem all along was people that at one point in time thought they lost their jobs, now all of a sudden thought they had a job, only to find out the next day they're not going to have a job."It's devastating enough for people who are losing their livelihood not to put them on a rollercoaster where they have peaks and valleys and there was nothing right about that."
Workers feel 'used' and 'expendable'Duane Oreskovic gets to keep his job at Carrier until December, but he said the company was already stamping products "Made in Mexico", which is highly demoralising for staff.
"It's a punch to the jaw. It's a straight punch to the jaw. It pisses a lot of people off because we're union employees, A, and B, we're making stuff in America," he said.
"We're not in Monterrey, Mexico right now. We're in Indianapolis, Indiana."
Photo: Carrier's second air conditioning plant on the outskirts of Monterrey, Mexico. (Reuters: Daniel Becerril)
Mr Oreskovic puts the move down to corporate greed as the company seeks a lower wage environment, saying the workers feel "used" and "expendable" after being caught up in the wheeling and dealing between politics and business.
Carrier's parent company United Technologies has billions of dollars in federal government military contracts, giving the incoming President some leverage to force a deal.
That is something he either has not chosen or been able to do with other Indiana manufacturers who have also been laying off staff.
'There's no sustainable policy'The company received $US7 million ($8.8 million) in tax concessions to retain part of its operations in Indianapolis in return for a promise to invest $US16 million in the plant.
Dr Mohan Tatikonda from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University said the deal was a one-off, with few broader benefits.
"It was a one-time, one-shot occurrence," he said.
"There wasn't a repeatable policy. There wasn't something to paper. There wasn't something that could be applied in other situations. It was a one-time instance of the bully pulpit."
Dr Tatikonda sees no sign of an underlying policy that can help grow US manufacturing.
"There was no underlying, sustainable, repeatable policy regarding retention, much less growth, of the manufacturing workforce in the United States," he said.
"I am very hard pressed to say that US workers were a winner."
Illusion of the American DreamKyle Beaman lost his job at another Indianapolis manufacturer, bearing maker Rexnord, in April.
Photo: Kyle Beaman, also from Indianapolis, lost his manufacturing job in April and is now selling his house and prized Mustang. (ABC News: John Mees)
On a weekday morning on his front lawn he polishes his prized possession, a canary yellow Mustang. The car is for sale, as is the house.
"I never had aspirations of having a yacht or a corporate jet or driving around in a Maserati. My dream was just to live the American dream, own a home, raise my children, have a good life and retire and that's all been upset now," he said.
Like many of his co-workers, he voted for Mr Trump.
Six months into the presidency, he is reconsidering his support.
"It's starting to waver," he said.
Hundreds more Carrier workers will lose their jobs around the end of the year.