By Kathi Wolfe
President Obama did a great thing on July 21. He signed an executive order...
The Bain Capital-owned Sensata Technologies plant in Freeport, Illinois, is outsourcing jobs to China. One hundred and seventy jobs will be lost by the end of the year. These workers are currently training their replacements.
Bain Capital, founded by Mitt Romney, bought the plant in 2011, and told workers their jobs would move to China by the end of 2012. Since Bain took over the operations of the Sensata Technologies, its investment has quadrupled in value, according to The New York Times. Romney himself has millions invested in Bain funds that have a controlling stake in the company.
Sensata workers and their allies have set up the Bainport encampment across the street from the plant to fight for their jobs. They have been there since September 12. The protesters say they will be at Bainport until Romney comes to discuss the outsourcing of jobs from America.
Curt Cashour, a spokeman for the Romney campaign, said, “Governor Romney has not worked at Bain Capital for over a decade.”
Recently on WORT-FM, we spoke to Tom Gaulrapp. Gaulrapp has been working at the high tech plant for thirty-three years.
Gaulrapp says the company set a record last year for profitability. He says there “used to be a sense of balance between profitability and . . . community.” But that has gotten “thrown out the window.”
Gaulrapp points out the insincerity of Mitt Romney, co-founder of Bain Capital. “[Romney] says he wants to get tough on China, and wants to stop the loss of manufacturing jobs to China, and here is a company that he actually he owns stock in, and is doing that to us,” he says.
“This goes to show the unbelievable hypocrisy of this man,” Gaulrapp told The New York Times. “He talks about how we need to get tough on China and stop China from taking our jobs, and then he is making money off shipping our jobs there.”
Gaulrapp, 54, has worked at the plant for most of his life and says it will be tough to find another decent-paying job in his town. He says he could lose his house and face bankruptcy, adding “It’s a bleak future.”
“It’s pretty humiliating, how they treat people,” says Gaulrapp. “They have no compassion for those losing the American Dream.”
Last week, three protesters—including the sixteen-year-old daughter of a Sensata employee—were arrested after they tried to block a truck from leaving the plant with equipment for China.
“Not all of us, but some of us are willing to be arrested to stop that truck,” Debi Kempel, one of the three arrested, told local news.
On Tuesday, Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, visited the Bainport encampment. “Make no mistake about it, Sensata, this camp, is ground zero for the fight against outsourcing” Durbin said.
Accompanying Durbin was the Democratic challenger for the Illinois 17th District Congressional seat, Cheri Bustos. “Bain Capital is actually afforded tax breaks to shut down the Sensata plant,” said Bustos’ campaign spokesman, Arden Manning.
The Bainport workers plight is starting to get some national attention. On October 10, The New York Times ran a long story about Romney’s Chinese investments.
CNN will be airing a piece on Bainport on Wednesday and MSNBC’s Ed Schultz will be broadcasting his Friday show from Bainport.
Despite the hardship, Bainport workers haven’t lost their sense of humor. A few days ago, Bainport’s website said: “Bain owned Sensata has hired and staffed up on security for 24 hour surveillance of our encampment. We are the job creators!”
For more information go to http://bainport.com/. To hear the interview, go to http://www.wortfm.org/bainport/. People can also show support for the workers by sending them pizza via Logan’s Bar & Grill (815) 232-4592.
If you liked this story by Elizabeth DiNovella, the Culture Editor of The Progressive magazine, check out her story "New Doc "As Goes Janesville" Exposes Paul Ryan’s Hometown."
Follow Elizabeth DiNovella @lizdinovella on Twitter