FREEPORT, Ill. — Workers facing outsourcing at Freeport’s Sensata Technologies plant and community supporters held an “Outsourcing Pig Roast” Saturday, Sept. 29, at the “Bainport” encampment, across the street from the Sensata plant in Freeport, where many workers have been camping out for the past few weeks.
The employees are continuing their efforts to call on Bain co-founder and former CEO and current Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to help save their jobs.
At the pig roast, workers raised concerns about Romney’s attempts to shift the blame for outsourcing to President Barack Obama (D), recent reports of Romney’s tax breaks on his personal Sensata stock, and newly-surfaced video of Romney from 1985 explaining how Bain Capital buys companies to “harvest profits.”
The 1985 video was included in a 1998 CD-ROM celebrating the 25th anniversary of Bain & Company, the consulting firm that created Bain Capital. In the video, Romney details Bain’s formation and discusses how the company’s goal was to find potential value in companies, buy large stakes in them, and then “harvest them at a significant profit” within five to eight years.
Sensata Technologies, which was created by Bain Capital in 2006, develops, manufactures, and sells sensors and controls for major auto manufacturers such as Ford and General Motors. The company is in the process of outsourcing 170 well-paying jobs from the remaining plant in Freeport, Ill., to China — despite record profits.
Tom Gaulrapp, who has worked at the Freeport Sensata Technologies plant for 33 years, said: “When I heard Mitt Romney say Bain Capital buys companies, runs them for a few years, and then harvests them for profits, it was like a slap in the face. People ask me why we are focusing on Mitt, and his comments show why: he’s the guy who created the model of harvesting profits by shipping good American jobs to China.”
The Sensata workers also demonstrated disgust at the news that Romney’s tax returns show significant personal investment in Sensata and a $350,000 tax break for transferring some of his Sensata stock to one of his foundations. Romney served as CEO of Bain from 1984 until 2002, according to SEC filings. Romney, however, has repeatedly said he left the company in 1999.
Sensata worker Cheryl Randecker said: “He’s getting a tax break on Sensata stocks while Sensata sends our jobs to China. Mitt Romney is personally benefiting from our misery. And yet, he has the gall to blame President Obama for what’s happening to us.”
The Sensata workers also announced a new effort to win back the full severance packages they used to have before Honeywell began preparing to sell the plant. Two years ago, their usual severance of a week of pay per year worked at the plant was capped at 26 weeks, and the bonus of 13 weeks of pay for those who worked at the plant for more than 20 years was completely eliminated.
Dot Turner, a 43-year veteran at the plant, said: “If they hadn’t changed the severance policy, I’d be getting 56 weeks of pay. Now, I’m only getting 26 weeks. It’s shameful; not only are they shipping our jobs away, they are cheating us on our severance, too.”
Bainport (visit http://bainport.com/) is a camp in Freeport Sensata workers set up Sept. 12 in protest of Bain’s decision to ship their jobs to China. The camp is at the Stephenson County Fairgrounds, across the street from the Sensata plant at 2520 S. Walnut, Freeport.
Over the past few months, Sensata workers have tried to contact Romney with a 35,000-signature petition, frequent protests outside the plant and trips to nearby campaign offices.
In July, the Freeport City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling on Romney to meet the workers and use his influence at Bain to intervene on their behalf. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) echoed their call during a trip to Freeport later that month. The situation has even become an issue in the congressional race in Illinois’ 17th district.
Workers took their campaign directly to Romney at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., Aug. 27-30.
Recent polls show Obama with a 1 to 4 percentage point lead over Romney in the race for the White House.
The first presidential debate begins at 8 p.m. (Central), Wednesday, Oct. 3, with moderator Jim Lehrer, host of PBS’s NewsHour. Topic is domestic policy. Other debates include a vice presidential debate from 8 to 9:30 p.m. (Central), Thursday, Oct. 11; a foreign and domestic policy debate between Obama and Romney from 8 to 9:30 p.m. (Central), Tuesday, Oct. 16; and a foreign policy debate between the presidential candidates from 8 to 9:30 p.m. (Central), Monday, Oct. 22.
Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.
From the Oct. 3-9, 2012, issue