As former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for president Thursday, Aug. 30, a group of workers facing outsourcing at Freeport’s Sensata Technologies plant rallied against what they called a “Romney economy.”
Sensata workers just back from trying to reach Romney at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., joined with Freeport Mayor George Gaulraupp (D) and other Freeport leaders to speak out against a “Romney economy.”
“You can see what a Romney economy is doing to Freeport,” said Bonnie Borman, an employee at Sensata Technologies for 23 years who is about to lose her job by the end of the year. “They’re sending our good jobs to China, and we will have to compete with our children for minimum-wage jobs. That’s what the Romney economy is all about.”
As Gov. Romney prepared to give his acceptance speech, Sensata workers and the Freeport community renewed their call on Romney to come to Freeport and witness firsthand what the Romney economy has done to this community and step in to save their jobs.
Joanne Penniston, a single mother of two who fears losing her Sensata job, said: “We went down to the RNC in Tampa to try to make candidate Romney and his party listen to our story. We never heard from Romney, but we told our story to the press and met lots of other protesters from all over the country who support our efforts. We’ve come back really energized and ready to continue our fight to save our jobs.”
Tom Gaulrapp, who has worked at the plant for 33 years, said: “We know that we are running out of time. Today, as Gov. Romney accepts the nomination of his party, we are renewing our call for Romney to come to Freeport and do something to stop the outsourcing of our jobs to China.”
Sensata Technologies, owned by Bain Capital, plans to close the plant, which employs 170, by the end of the year and move the operations to China. Many Sensata workers have already received layoff notices.
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, although Romney has repeatedly said he left the company in 1999.
During his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention Aug. 31, Romney defended his time with Bain Capital.
“When I was 37, I helped start a small company,” Romney said. “My partners and I had been working for a company that was in the business of helping other businesses.
“So, some of us had this idea that if we really believed our advice was helping companies, we should invest in companies. We should bet on ourselves and on our advice.
“So, we started a new business called Bain Capital,” Romney explained. “The only problem was, while WE believed in ourselves, nobody else did. We were young and had never done this before, and we almost didn’t get off the ground. In those days, sometimes I wondered if I had made a really big mistake. I had thought about asking my church’s pension fund to invest, but I didn’t. I figured it was bad enough that I might lose my investors’ money, but I didn’t want to go to hell, too. Shows what I know. Another of my partners got the Episcopal Church pension fund to invest. Today, there are a lot of happy retired priests who should thank him.
“That business we started with 10 people has now grown into a great American success story,” Romney said. “Some of the companies we helped start are names you know. An office supply company called Staples — where I’m pleased to see the Obama campaign has been shopping; The Sports Authority, which became a favorite of my sons. We started an early childhood learning center called Bright Horizons that First Lady Michelle Obama rightly praised. At a time when nobody thought we’d ever see a new steel mill built in America, we took a chance and built one in a corn field in Indiana. Today, Steel Dynamics is one of the largest steel producers in the United States.
“These are American success stories,” Romney said. “And yet, the centerpiece of the president’s entire re-election campaign is attacking success. Is it any wonder that someone who attacks success has led the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression? In America, we celebrate success, we don’t apologize for it.
“We weren’t always successful at Bain,” Romney said. “But no one ever is in the real world of business. That’s what this President doesn’t seem to understand. Business and growing jobs is about taking risk, sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding, but always striving. It is about dreams. Usually, it doesn’t work out exactly as you might have imagined. Steve Jobs was fired at Apple. He came back and changed the world.
“It’s the genius of the American free enterprise system — to harness the extraordinary creativity and talent and industry of the American people with a system that is dedicated to creating tomorrow’s prosperity rather than trying to redistribute today’s,” Romney said. “That is why every president since the Great Depression who came before the American people asking for a second term could look back at the last four years and say with satisfaction: ‘you are better off today than you were four years ago.’ Except Jimmy Carter. And except this president.
“This president can ask us to be patient,” Romney said. “This president can tell us it was someone else’s fault. This president can tell us that the next four years he’ll get it right. But this president cannot tell us that YOU are better off today than when he took office.”
The Democratic National Convention runs Sept. 4-6 in Charlotte, N.C. Notable speakers include Vice President Joe Biden, former President Bill Clinton, former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (D), Chicago Mayor and former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Caroline Kennedy and First Lady Michelle Obama.
Polls continue to show a tight race, with Obama edging Romney 47-46 percent in a Sept. 4 Gallup poll and Romney edging Obama 47-45 percent in a Sept. 4 Rasmussen Reports poll.
For more about the efforts of Sensata Technologies workers, visit http://www.facebook.com/save.ourjobs.1 and follow them on Twitter at @savesensatajobs.
From the Sept. 5-11, 2012, issue