In an effort to keep their jobs in Freeport from being outsourced, employees of Sensata Technologies delivered a petition with more than 35,000 signatures to Evanston’s Bain Capital offices yesterday.
“I’m 52, I didn’t plan on having to start over... I have some health limitations and having to start all over is not going to be easy,” said Bonnie Borman, a Sensata employee of 23 years. “I’m going to be unemployed, and I’ll be competing with my daughter’s age group—early 20s—for jobs.”
Purchased in 2006 by Bain Capital, the investment firm co-founded by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, presumptive Republican nominee in 2012’s presidential election, Sensata Technologies announced in 2011 it would be relocating its Freeport plant to China. Final layoffs for the company, a maker of sensors and controls that are used in aircrafts, automobiles, and electric motors, are set for November.
“This is going to devastate our community,” said Borman, one of the 170 employees preparing for unemployment. Over the past several months, Borman and her co-workers were forced to train their Chinese replacements. “Freeport is losing $7.7 million in income, and for a population of about 30,000 that’s a lot of money.”
Here's more from another Sensate employee whose job is set to go overseas:
With 35,343 SignOn.org signatures from around the country, the petition from 33-year Sensata employee Cheryl Randecker urges Bain’s managing directors and Romney to speak out against the outsourcing plan and insist that Bain Capital “do the right thing.” At the company's Evanston offices, located at 1603 Orrington Avenue, the Sensata employees were stopped at the door.
The demonstrators were forced to leave the petition on the floor of the lobby and left the rally with no assurance the petition would reach any of its intended recipients.
Here's a quick slideshow of what happened during the petition delivery:
Romney maintains that he left Bain in 1999, even though documents as recent as 2002 list him as having leadership roles with the company.
Regardless of the date he left, many of the Sensata supporters hold Romney responsible for creating Bain’s business model that is outsourcing Freeport jobs.
“Romney founded and ran Bain Capital for many years, this is the company that was founded on his vision, run under his leadership and he continues to make a profit from it to the tune of millions of dollars,” said Elizabeth Parisian, policy analyst for Stand Up Chicago, at the rally. Alongside representatives from Arise Chicago and Chicago Jobs With Justice, members of Stand Up Chicago attended the rally to support the Sensata employees.
“This is a guy that still holds an incredible amount of power and an incredible amount of sway (over Bain Capital) and if he wants to be president and show us that he supports American jobs, he needs to step in and do something to save these jobs,” she said.
This is not the first action Sensata employees have taken to prevent the impending layoffs. In July, the Freeport City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling on Romney to “come to Freeport to meet the people directly affected by Bain Capital's outsourcing and to step in and stop the outsourcing of these jobs from Freeport to China.” On August 13, Romney’s campaign headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin called the police on Sensata employees when they attempted to deliver a letter asking for Romney’s assistance.
At Tuesday’s Evanston rally, a representative from the office of U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston), read a statement, pledging the congresswoman’s support of the Sensata employees. “I applaud all the workers at the Sensata plant who have had the courage to stand up against this epidemic of outsourcing,” read Alex Armour, political director for U.S. Rep. Schakowsky.
“I join these workers to call on Bain and the company’s former CEO Mitt Romney to save these jobs,” Schakowsky’s statement read.
Yet, even as constituents and elected officials alike turn up the heat on Romney, he has yet to respond to the situation in Freeport.
“I don’t think (Romney) realizes what we go through, he doesn’t understand what an eight hour job is. I think he’s out of touch with the common person,” said Randecker.
“I don’t know if he’ll step up, but I hope that other Americans will see what we’re doing and see that we are stepping up for ourselves; if we can do it anyone can do it.”
Here's more from the rally: