Freeport’s Sensata workers continue fight against outsourcing

Employees from Freeport’s Sensata Technologies plant, along with supporters from the community, protest outside a fund-raiser for U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill., Aug. 10 at Forest Hills Country Club in Loves Park. The protest opposed Schilling and U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, voting against the Bring Jobs Home Act. (Photo provided)

• Employees protest at fund-raiser for U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, rally outside Romney campaign headquarters in Wisconsin

Staff Report

FREEPORT, Ill. — Workers facing outsourcing at Freeport’s Sensata Technologies plant are continuing their fight against corporations sending jobs overseas.

Friday, Aug. 10, Sensata workers gathered outside Forest Hills Country Club in Loves Park, Ill., to protest U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill., and Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, for blocking the Bring Jobs Home Act.

The Bring Jobs Home Act would aim to prevent family-supporting American jobs from being shipped overseas.

Sensata workers gathered more than 1,000 signatures on a petition addressed to Schilling in support of the Bring Jobs Home Act, and delivered them to Schilling in early July.

Despite overwhelming support for the Bring Jobs Home Act among his constituents, Schilling voted against the measure — which would end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas — when it came to a vote later that month.

Schilling said he supported us, but then when it came time to vote on the ‘Bring Jobs Home Act,’ he voted against us,” said Tom Gaulrapp, who has worked for Sensata for 33 years. “Anyone can write a letter, but when it comes down to it, Schilling sided with the corporate outsourcers. They couldn’t care less about our jobs or our families.”

Sensata employees also rallied Aug. 13 in Fitchburg, Wis., outside the campaign headquarters of presumptive Republican nominee for president former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Sensata employees at the Fitchburg rally urged Romney to help save their jobs. They also hand-delivered a letter from Sensata workers that had been sent to Romney.

Massachusetts-based Sensata Technologies plans to close the Freeport plant in December and outsource 170 jobs to China. Sensata workers are training their Chinese replacements, who have been flown to Illinois by the company.

Sensata develops, manufactures and sells sensors and controls for major auto manufacturers such as Ford and General Motors.

Romney is a co-founder of Bain Capital, a private equity investment firm that created Sensata in 2006. According to SEC filings, Romney served as CEO of Bain Capital from its founding in 1984 until 2002. Romney, however, has repeatedly said he left the company in 1999.

The Fitchburg, Wis., rally came as debate over Romney’s record of outsourcing jobs to China and other countries while at Bain continues to bring national attention to the company’s practices.

Bonnie Borman, a 23-year employee of Sensata’s Freeport plant, said: “Romney has been going around the country talking about jobs, jobs, jobs. We hope Romney will not just talk the talk, but walk the walk and stand with American workers — not companies like Bain that want to ship our jobs overseas.”

Over the past few months, Sensata workers have tried to reach Romney with a signed letter sent to the campaign, frequent protests outside the plant and at the Romney/Paul Ryan Homecoming in Waukesha, Wis.

Additionally, Freeport City Council voted 8-0 July 16 to support a resolution to call on Romney to visit Freeport and help save the employees’ jobs. Romney has yet to respond.

U.S. Reps. Don Manzullo, R-Ill., and Schilling also sent a letter to Sensata CEO Thomas Wroe Jr. July 6 urging him to keep the jobs in Freeport.

From the Aug. 15-21, 2012, issue

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