Online Staff Report
FREEPORT, Ill. — Despite their best efforts, the “Bainport” encampment set up at Stephenson County Fairgrounds by workers facing outsourcing at Freeport’s Sensata Technologies plant will be dismantled Friday, Nov. 9.
Workers, who began the encampment Sept. 12, have said that although Bainport is being removed from Stephenson County Fairgrounds, protests of the company’s outsourcing of their jobs and slashing of their severance pay will continue.
Workers — 170 of whom stand to lose their jobs when the plant closes in December — have been working toward gaining a full severance from the company.
Sensata employees who have been at the plant for 20, 30 and even 40-plus years are getting 26 weeks of pay as a severance from Bain-owned Sensata, even after training their Chinese replacements.
The workers’ severance package was cut just a few months before Bain-owned Sensata took over the plant — signaling that the company wanted to avoid paying full severance to its employees when it shipped their jobs to China.
Freeport City Council voted 6-2 Nov. 5 in favor of a resolution supporting efforts of Sensata Technologies workers in Freeport to gain a full severance.
The Bainport encampment and the efforts of Sensata workers gained national attention this fall, as MSNBC’s The Ed Show broadcast live from the location and the New York Times, the Huffington Post and the New York Daily news all provided coverage of the movement.
Bainport also welcomed many national figures to the fairgrounds, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard, former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, the Rev. Al Sharpton, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., United Auto Workers President Bob King, Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry and Bain workers from France.
Friday, Nov. 9, marks the movement’s 59th day. Twenty-three individuals have been arrested since the protests began. Among those arrested were the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Bishop Tavis Grant and former Rockford Ald. Victory Bell.
Two unfair labor practice charges were filed against Sensata with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Oct. 24 after the company threatened to shut its Freeport plant down immediately if its employees continued to organize to stop the outsourcing of their jobs. The first charge was for “increasing security and announcing a new policy, or a previously unenforced policy, prohibiting off-duty employees from entering work areas at non-work times, in response to and in retaliation for employees engaging in protected concerted activity,” while the second charge was for threatening to shut the plant down.
Sensata emerged as a flashpoint in the controversy over Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s ties to China this past fall. Sensata workers pleaded publicly with Romney to help save their jobs from being outsourced to China, including presenting his campaign with a 35,000-signature petition and attending the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., in August. Romney never responded to their calls for help.
Not only does Romney stand to profit from the outsourcing of the jobs through the stock he still owns in the company, his 2011 tax returns show he got a huge tax break by moving Sensata stock to a charity organization he controls.
According to SEC filings, Romney served as CEO of the private equity investment firm Bain Capital from its founding in 1984 until 2002. Romney, however, has repeatedly said he left the company in 1999.
Bain Capital-owned Sensata plans to close the Freeport plant in December and outsource the plant’s 170 jobs to China. Workers at the plant have been training their Chinese replacements, who have been flown to Illinois by the company.
Created by Bain in 2006, Sensata develops, manufactures, and sells sensors and controls for major auto manufacturers such as Ford and General Motors.
Click here for more about Sensata.
Posted Nov. 8, 2012