‘Bainport’ gains national prominence as race for White House remains close

• Workers facing outsourcing at Freeport’s Sensata Technologies plant welcome Al Sharpton Oct. 20

Staff Report

FREEPORT, Ill. — “Bainport” — the encampment set up at Stephenson County Fairgrounds by workers facing outsourcing at Freeport’s Sensata Technologies plant — is gaining national prominence as the race for the White House remains close.

The workers’ movement gained national coverage in the New York Times, the Huffington Post and the New York Daily News, and outsourcing was expected to be a topic during the Oct. 16 presidential debate.

Bainport at Stephenson County Fairgrounds, 2250 S. Walnut Road, Freeport, was organized by workers facing outsourcing at the Bain Capital-owned Sensata plant.

Created in 2006, Sensata develops, manufactures, and sells sensors and controls for major auto manufacturers such as Ford and General Motors.

Workers at the plant have been training their Chinese replacements, who have been flown to Illinois by the company. The final layoffs are expected to be made in November. The plant employs 170.

Workers began to camp outside the plant to protest Bain’s decision to ship their jobs to China and increase the pressure on Republican presidential candidate and former Bain co-founder/CEO Mitt Romney — who still profits directly from Sensata — to help save their jobs.

The workers plan to stay at the encampment until Romney agrees to help save their jobs, or, as stated in a release from the group, “until middle-class voters nationwide understand the dangers of a Romney economy for our country.”

Romney is a co-founder of Bain Capital, the private equity investment firm that created Sensata. 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.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., visited Bainport Tuesday, Oct. 16. The workers have previously welcomed former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond and Bain workers from France to their encampment. The Rev. Al Sharpton is planning to visit the plant Saturday, Oct. 20.

It’s time to draw a line in the sand on the outsourcing of good, American jobs,” said Tom Gaulrapp, who has worked at the plant for 33 years. “And with the support of advocates for the middle class like Sen. Durbin, that’s exactly what we’re going to do at Bainport.”

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.

Workers took their campaign directly to Romney at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., Aug. 27-30.

As Bainport gains national prominence, the race for the White House between Romney and President Barack Obama remains close. A Tuesday, Oct. 16, Rasmussen Tracking poll showed Romney leading Obama 49-47 percent. An Oct. 14 Gallup Tracking poll showed Romney leading 49-47 percent, and an Oct. 15 Rasmussen Tracking poll showed Romney leading 49-48 percent. Meantime, an Oct. 15 ABC News/Washington Post poll had Obama leading 49-46 percent, and an Oct. 15 Politico/GWU/Battleground poll had Obama leading 49-48 percent.

Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, is now less than three weeks away. The second of three presidential debates was Tuesday, Oct. 17.

The final presidential debate of the season will be from 8 to 9:30 p.m. (Central), Monday, Oct. 22, at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. Moderator will be Bob Schieffer, host of CBS’s Face the Nation. Topic will be foreign policy.

From the Oct. 17-23, 2012, issue

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