Workers plead for Mitt Romney's help in Freeport, Illinois. Source: YouTube screencapture
This is a very real nightmare for American workers in Freeport, Illinois and
a PR nightmare for Republican candidate Mitt Romney
The Massachusetts-based Sensata Technologies has announced it plans to close the Freeport plant in December and outsource 170 jobs to China. Sensata workers are training their Chinese replacements, who have been flown to Illinois by the company.
Sensata was created by Bain Capital in 2006 and develops, manufactures and sells sensors and controls for major auto manufacturers such as Ford and General Motors.
Mitt Romney was already off the management team at Bain Capital when the decision to offshore these jobs was made, but local leaders and Sensata's workers are calling on Romney to use his influence to help stop the offshoring:
The Freeport City Council voted 8-0 July 16 to support a resolution to call on Romney to visit Freeport and help save the employees’ jobs.
Romney may well profit off the move
As a major investor in Sensata, Romney could gain from an outsourcing move that is likely to cut costs and increase the company's presence in emerging markets.
Romney owns at least $7.8 million in eight Bain funds that collectively hold 51 percent of Sensata's shares, according to a disclosure report he released in June. [...]
It is not possible to say how much Romney has made from Sensata directly because private-equity firms typically do not release detailed financial statements.
Sensata struggled during the global recession of 2008-2009 but has turned a profit lately. It predicted in April it would earn between $2 and $2.20 per adjusted share for the 2012 financial year.
affiliation with a company that is offshoring American manufacturing jobs and forcing its American workers to train their Chinese counterparts would be bad optics for any campaign. For Romney, this story is toxic. Not only the presumptive Republican presidential nominee possibly profiting when Bain Capital ships these jobs to China, but he also engineered the playbook Bain Capital is using after his departure. Which leads to two key questions for Mitt Romney:
1. Does he agree with Bain Capital's decision?
2. How much, if any, does he stand to profit off of the Sensata offshoring move?
This has been Mitt Romney's response to pleas from workers in America's heartland who had to train their Chinese replacements:
"Gov. Romney is not familiar with this issue and has not been involved in the management of Bain since 1999," said Romney campaign spokesperson Amanda Henneberg.
Of course, now Romney is
familiar with the issue, given that it has received national attention from MSNBC and national press outlets (here's video
of Ed Schultz interviewing Sensata workers). That makes his refusal to even acknowledge the situation even more insulting to Freeport workers, even if it is typical of the Romney campaign's head-in-the-sand defense strategy.
Amanda Terkel at The Huffington Post brings usa quote from a Freeport worker who puts it all into perspective:
Regardless of the date that he left, Tom Gaulrapp -- a lifelong resident of Freeport and 33-year employee of Sensata -- said that Romney still bears some responsibility.
This is the type of destruction Bain Capital leaves in its wake as it reaps profits:
"They used his business model," Gaulrapp said. "And the board of directors and most of the officers at Bain Capital were put in place by him. There's an ongoing debate over whether he actually left in 1999 or whether he filed wrong documents to the SEC. In either case, they're still using his business model. He's the one who taught them how to do this. These guys were put there by him. So you can say he doesn't run the day-to-day operations, but he's still at blame for the way they do business."
“At first, I was angry,” employee Cheryl Randecker told reporters last month. “Now, five or six months away from unemployment, I’m scared … I don’t know how I’m going to make my house payment and pay the bills.” Despite having “worked hard over the past three decades to build a somewhat strong security” for her family, Randecker worries that her daughter may have to leave college. Randecker says she still hopes Romney will intervene: “We’re just asking him to do the right thing, and show how he really does care about working families.”
Video and open letter from Freeport workers below the fold.
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