Today there were six more arrests at the Sensata factory in Freeport, IL as people hold sit-ins and try to block trucks moving equipment out for shipment to China.
What Is Sensata?
Sensata is a company that makes sensors for the automobile industry. In modern computerized cars sophisticated sensors are a key technology. Sensata is closing their Freeport, IL factory and moving all the equipment and jobs to China. The workers have to train their Chinese replacements or lose severance and unemployment benefits. The moving of equipment and closing of the plant is scheduled for the end of this year.
Romney and Bain
Bain Capital -- the company that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney started -- owns 51% of Sensata. Romney no longer runs the company, but retains significant investments, including chunks of the Bain funds that own Sensata.
According to a Washington Post report, Romney's Bain Capital invested in companies that moved jobs overseas, Mitt Romney and Bain Capital "pioneered" outsourcing strategies. They invested in companies set up to help other companies send jobs to China, and they especially used offshoring in their strategies to avoid paying the taxes that enable We, the People to have good schools, roads, courts etc. From the report,
Mitt Romney's financial company, Bain Capital, invested in a series of firms that specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China and India.
During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
So Sensata is closing a profitable factory in Freeport, IL, laying off the American workers and shipping the equipment to China. The workers and supporters have set up a tent camp across from the factory and have named it Bainport. Supporters of the workers are trying to block the Bain trucks that are moving the equipment out for shipment to China.
This is all happening right now, in the middle of the election campaign. On the campaign trail Romney says we shouldn't ship jobs to China and should "crack down" on China trade problems. So the workers have asked Romney to demonstrate that he means what he says and come to Freeport to help them.
Mitt Romney is not running Bain Capital anymore. (He still makes millions from the company, and gets checks from the profits made when they ship jobs to China). So this is a tremendous opportunity for him. Can you imagine a better spokesman for the Bainport employees than the former head of Bain Capital, who now says he opposes the kinds of things that Bain Capital is doing here? How powerful would it be for Romney, if he did this -- if he demonstrated that he really means what he says about China.
But so far Romney refuses to help the Sensata workers.
This morning there was a sit-in in the lobby of the Sensata factory. Six people were arrested. The people arrested include JoAnn Matthews, mother of Sensata worker Mary Jo Kerr; 82-year-old community supporter Paul Holz; and Kathy Hoyer, who worked at Sensata for two decades before being laid off earlier this year, and her son.
The Corrupt Bargain
Sensors are a strategic chokepoint in the auto-manufacturing supply chain. China wants to control the auto industry (like so many other industries), so controlling a key strategic chokepoint like sensors is a big win for them. To get this control they offer up all kinds of special subsidies and incentives, and of course that includes packaging up a bundle of low-wage workers. The trade-off is that owners of a company like Sensata get really wealthy (wealthier) by moving the factory to China, but Freeport and America lose the jobs, factory and industry. And we all lose our ability to make a living in the future.
But the owners of Sensata get even wealthier from the deal. Here is the corrupt bargain: China makes out well, the wealthy few who turn our manufacturing capacity over to China make out well, the rest of us lose everything.
Visit The Bain Of Our Existence, a central point for updates on stories about Bain Capital.