MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
(Courtesy Sensata Workers Fighting for Their Jobs Against Bain Capital: Bainport.com)
BuzzFlash at Truthout talked today to Tom Gaulrapp who is losing his job after 33 years because Mitt Romney's Bain Capital is sending the Sensata plant where he works to China. Not only will Gaulrapp and about 170 US workers lose their jobs to low paid workers overseas, many of them – such as Gaulrapp – will have lost considerable severance payments due to Bain's acquisition of the plant from Honeywell in late 2010.
Bain Capital owns the majority shares in Sensata since 2006. According to Gaulrapp, when Sensata --under Bain Capital's "guidance" -- acquired the Freeport, Illinois, plant, the severance was dramatically reduced. Gaulrapp, for instance, will see his termination pay cut from 46 to 26 weeks when his job is phased out on November 15 – after current employees train their Chinese replacements. All the employees at the plant that "develops, manufactures, and sells sensors and controls for major auto manufacturers such as Ford and General Motors" will be let go by Christmas.
Over the past several weeks, the Sensata workers have launched an aggressive public awareness campaign. They have put pressure on Mitt Romney through a campground protest across from the Freeport plant, solicited community support, started a press release campaign, and are currently conducting a bus tour targeting outsourcers of jobs to China. The soon to be displaced employees call their encampment Bainport and maintain a website to publicize their efforts.
In a curious turn of events, after ignoring the worker protests and the imminent plant closing, the Romney campaign finally responded through a spokesperson earlier this week:
"Governor Romney has not worked at Bain Capital for over a decade, but for four years President Obama has been presiding over an economy that is creating too few jobs and sending more jobs overseas. Despite the President being invested in Sensata through his personal pension fund, and the government owning a major Sensata customer in GM, President Obama has not used his powers to help this situation in any way." — Curt Cashour, Romney Campaign Spokesman
Say what? BuzzFlash at Truthout has posted two commentaries on the Sensata workers' uprising, which Gaulrapp told BuzzFlash that unions are fully supporting even though the plant is not a union shop. But the Romney campaign's effort to blame Obama for Bain's outsourcing of jobs to China is so brazen, such a big lie, many people might think it is true.
As part of his retirement holdings, which earned him more than $20 million in 2011, Romney has a stake in the Bain Capital fund that owns Sensata, so he directly benefits from the outsourcing. What is more, as BuzzFlash at Truthout has pointed out before, Bain Capital was not only one of the pioneers in outsourcing jobs to China, it actually invested in firms in the '90s that advised companies on how to profit from moving US jobs overseas.
While Romney tries to masquerade as a job patriot -- while being a proponent of job exporting for increased personal profit -- Sensata workers in the heartland are facing holidays with limited unemployment support and severance – and not a bright future, in particular for older workers such as Gaulrapp, 54.
"Everyone should look at their own jobs and see how vulnerable they are," Gaulrapp told BuzzFlash. "We face a future of minimum wages and no benefits." That's if he and other Sensata workers can find a job of any kind after "retraining."