Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Bainport Sensata Tragedy in Illinois


pic via bainport.com

This tragedy in Illinois has been going on since back in the spring, actually, because the announcement was made then that a car parts plant in Freeport, Illinois, was going under, thanks to Bain Capital. When stories of Romney's connection to Bain came out during the Republican Primaries, many wondered if Mitt Romney would visit the workers at the Sensata car sensor plant. But of course he brushed them off and now is ignoring their continuing protests.

I'm sure he would say that they need to "pull themselves up by the bootstraps" or some kind of nonsensical old-fashioned phrase. I'm sure he thinks it is easy to watch your small town fall apart when a large business closes down. I think people like Romney forget that even the loss of a few jobs has a ripple effect as restaurants and stores close down, and schools suffer lack of tax funding (which is important, Mr. Romney, whether you care or not).

Many people might say that lots of folks in this economy have lost their jobs, what is so special about the people in Freeport? Well, not only are they victims of Bain, but they have the outrageous task of training their Chinese counterparts as Bain outsources their jobs to Asia, leaving them on unemployment. This sorry situation is what Romney wants to do to the whole economy in a nutshell - let venture capitalists sell it off piece by piece to the highest bidder, stash the money offshore in tax havens, and damn the consequences for the 47% or the 99%.

So tomorrow night in the debate when Romney points at Obama and talks about our debt held by China, I hope the President won't forget the workers in "Bainport."

From The Ed Show tonight on MSNBC:

Ed Schultz: So where does this leave all of these families? What's going to happen to Freeport, Illinois?

Worker Mary Jo Kerr: It's going to become a ghost town. That's one major company in Freeport. We really only have a few big companies and that's Honeywell, Sensata, and Titan Tires. And once Sensata goes down, it's going to be hard for anybody to find a job because there's nothing around there.

Ed: Normally when a company's not doing very well, the employees know it. Was it record profits for Sensata? Was it good, and that makes it hard to understand why this is happening?

Mary Jo Kerr: Yeah, we don't understand why this is happening. From my understanding, they liked Freeport. They liked the location. But it was 'we need more money.'

From the Freeport Rock River Times
FREEPORT, Ill. — U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., will visit “Bainport” in Freeport, Ill., at 9:45 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 16.

Bainport is an encampment set up at Stephenson County Fairgrounds, 2250 S. Walnut Road, Freeport, by workers facing outsourcing at the Bain Capital-owned Sensata Technologies 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.”
From the Freeport Journal-Standard
Also visiting Freeport this week will be activist Reverend Al Sharpton. He is scheduled to appear at the Sensata camp on Saturday at 4 p.m. to speak to the employees. The appearances this week follow an active summer of rallies that saw the arrival of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond to Freeport.

The Sensata workers have also been involved in other acts of protest that include appearing at the Republican National Convention, a march at a fundraising event for Rep. Bobby Schilling that was attended by House Speaker John Boehner, and the attempted submission of petitions to both their employer and Romney, among other things.

Last weekend, 15 French workers from Samsonite, who lost their jobs to Bain Capital outsourcing in 2007, visited “Bainport” to show their support to the picketing workers. Sensata develops, manufactures, and sells sensors and controls for auto manufacturers. The closure of the plant will cost Freeport 170 jobs.

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