Time is ticking for the 170 workers set to lose their jobs to outsourcing by Bain Capital-owned Sensata Technologies, which manufactures and develops sensors and controls for airplanes, automobiles and motors. The company's Freeport, IL factory is scheduled to close in November, with the jobs and equipment headed overseas.
After months of protests, visiting campaign offices, and delivering a 35,000-signature petition, the workers are trying yet another tactic to try to save their jobs: Setting up camp outside the Freeport factory in protest of Sensata shipping their jobs to China.
The workers have made several attempts to call on Republican presidential nominee and former Bain CEO Mitt Romney to help save their jobs, even traveling to the Republican National Convention last month to get the candidate's attention. But thus far, their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
“Mitt Romney refused to meet us in Tampa, but as a presidential candidate, he can’t keep ignoring American workers,” said Bonnie Borman, who has worked at the plant for 23 years. “We’re asking him again to come to Freeport and help us save our jobs. If he wants to show leadership, he should stand with the middle class—not companies like Bain that want to ship our jobs overseas. And we’re not leaving until he does.”
The workers are not the only ones who have called on Romney, who coins himself as a job creator, to come in and help save the jobs. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has publicly voiced his support of the requests to have Romney visit Freeport to see the potential effect the factory closing would have on the small town of 26,000. The Freeport City Council even passed a resolution unanimously calling on Romney to come to town to meet the workers set to lose their jobs and assist in any way that he can. The Sensata layoffs have also become an issue in the race between Democrat Cheri Bustos and Tea Party Republican incumbent Bobby Schilling in the 17th congressional district, which includes the town of Freeport.
Romney, who still profits from Bain Capital, has ignored all calls for his assistance in the Freeport Sensata controversy up to this point, despite national and even international attention. Meanwhile, despite growing profit margins Sensata is marching forward with its plan to send the jobs overseas, having already starting shipping equipment to China while also paying for Chinese workers to fly into Freeport to be trained by the people whose jobs they will soon take over.
The Freeport workers say their camp effort, which is set to begin this evening, will "make the reality of Romney’s vision for our economy clear to Freeport residents and voters across the country."