So, Have You Heard About Sensata?

In any sane country, Mitt Romney’s constant mendacity would have already disqualified him from being elected dog catcher, let alone president.  If Mitt Romney told me the sky was blue, I not only would go outside to check, but after seeing the sky was actually blue I would schedule an appointment with an optometrist to see what was wrong with my eyes.

But this is America, not only the land of the low information voter, but also the land where an obvious propaganda machine is the top rated news source.

And so the election for president is now effectively tied.  And while the Sensata story should doom Romney to a landslide loss, the mainstream media, in the tank for Obama of course, will more than likely mainly ignore the story because they aren’t journalists anymore, they are infotainers.  (By the way, does anyone know where American Journalism is buried?  Because I’d like to lay some flowers at the grave.)

Anyway, the workers at Sensata are doing everything they can to get their story out to the American public.  So I will do my part to publicize it.  It is my policy not to ask for shares or likes here at Foster Disbelief, but if this story disturbs you, please either share this post or one of the news stories on Sensata.

There’s a plant in Freeport that makes sensors and controls for cars and airplanes. It’s owned by Sensata Technologies, a company that Bain bought in 2006, somewhere between four and seven years after Mr. Romney left the company. Last year, Sensata announced that it was moving the plant to China at the end of 2012 and laying off all 170 workers, and now those workers are asking Mr. Romney to intervene with his colleagues to save their jobs.  New York Times

Yes, Romney was already gone from Bain when the company bought Sensata.  But these are the practices that Romney instilled at Bain.  From the same NYT piece:

Nonetheless, Mr. Romney remains deeply tied to business decisions like this. As Bain’s founder, he established its business model, which is to wring the maximum efficiency from a company for the benefit of Bain’s investors, even if that means closing plants, shipping jobs to China, and laying off American workers. That’s how private equity often works, and Bain has done it many times before, sometimes to the benefit of a company’s workers, and sometimes to their detriment.

When Bain first led a buyout of Sensata, in fact, it laid off hundreds of American workers and sent their jobs offshore. As the Times reported, the Labor Department spent $780,000 retraining some of the laid-off employees.

In addition, Mr. Romney’s generous retirement agreement ensures that he continues to profit from the deals and decisions that Bain makes. He owns about $8 million worth of Bain funds that hold 51 percent of Sensata’s shares. If Sensata saves money by closing the Freeport plant, that could add money to Mr. Romney’s trust accounts, now or after the election.

Several Sensata workers traveled to the RNC to express their fears.  From the HuffPo:

And that’s how Penniston — who described herself as being apolitical until now — found herself on the outskirts of the Republican National Convention, with three Sensata employees from back home holding signs like “Mitt/Bain Is Shipping My Job To China.”

“I’m a single mother with two daughters, and I don’t know how I’ll support my family,” Penniston, a six-year Sensata veteran, told HuffPost. “I’ll have to move out of state to where there are better paying jobs or go to school. I’m worried about a lot of stuff — food, utilities, juggling bills.”

Outsourcing has emerged as a major theme in the 2012 presidential campaign, with the Obama camp hammering Romney for Bain ventures that either sent or helped send U.S. jobs out of the country. The campaign theme is meant to tap into the resentment and disappointment of workers in communities where factories have closed and jobs have disappeared, laying the blame at the feet of venture capital.

At “Romneyville,” an Occupy Wall Street-style activism hub in Tampa established for the RNC, Penniston was joined by colleagues Tom Gaulrapp, Cheryl Randeker and Bonnie Borman, all of whom made the trek from Illinois and expect to lose their jobs back home soon. As small-town, working-class Midwesterners, the Sensata employees looked a touch out of place among the small sea of anti-establishment, lefty protester types who’d set up tents at the encampment.

In separate interviews, none of the workers volunteered praise for President Barack Obama or attacked the GOP platform generally. Instead, they spoke passionately against Romney and Bain, lamenting the loss of what they described as some of the few remaining manufacturing jobs in their area. When pressed, they said it didn’t matter that Romney hasn’t actually called the shots at Bain for years. He helped found the firm and profited from it, and so they blame him for their impending job losses.

Insult to injury?  Being forced to train your Chinese replacements.  From the Guardian:

The shock of losing a precious job in a town afflicted by high unemployment is always hard. A foundation for a stable family life and secure home instantly disappears, replaced with a future filled with fears over health insurance, missed mortgage payments and the potential for a slip below the breadline.

But for Bonnie Borman – and 170 other men and women in Freeport, Illinois – there is a brutal twist to the torture. Borman, 52, and the other workers of a soon-to-be-shuttered car parts plant are personally training the Chinese workers who will replace them.

It’s a surreal experience, they say. For months they have watched their plant being dismantled and shipped to China, piece by piece, as they show teams of Chinese workers how to do the jobs they have dedicated their lives to.

“It’s not easy to get up in the morning, training them to do your job so that you can be made unemployed,” said Borman, pictured, a mother of three who has worked for 23 years at the Sensata auto sensors plant.

Borman knows her eventual fate in the stricken economy that surrounds Freeport. “I am going to be competing for minimum wage jobs with my own daughter,” she said.

There have been reports that the plant took down the American flag and flew a Chinese flag while training the replacements.  This is not true.  They only took down the American flag.  From Bainport.com:

There seems to be some confusion about whether or not our Sensata plant took down our American flag and replaced it with the Chinese flag. Here is the truth. Sensata took down our American flag on the day they flew in our Chinese replacements that we were forced to train. They put our American flag back up after the Chinese workers left. They never flew the Chinese flag.

And Romney will rake in the cash from the closing.  From ThinkProgress:

Romney held a direct investment in Sensata through one fund titled “Bain Capital Fund IX, L.P.,” dated December 31, 2009, meaning he has likely financially benefited from Bain’s ownership of the company in the past, and could benefit from the plant’s closure and the outsourcing of the jobs to China. According to his 2011 personal financial disclosure, Romney still holds the Bain Capital fund that contains the Sensata investment.

Romney has a history of outsourcing jobs as the chief executive of Bain Capital. The Washington Post reported in June that under Romney’s leadership Bain “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.” Other companies in which the firm invested sent jobs to Mexico and other low-wage countries around the world.

While that history might be politically toxic, Romney’s proposals wouldn’t stop the outsourcing of American jobs. In fact, his plan to reform the corporate tax code by instituting a territorial tax system would make it easier for American companies to outsource jobs, while at the same time encouraging them to store even more money in offshore tax havens.

No matter what Mitt Romney’s personal involvement in this particular closing is, the fact remains that this is the Romney legacy at Bain.  For all his talk of job creation and being tough on China, his business career consisted of dismantling American factories and shipping the jobs off to low wage nations.  Does anyone actually think his policies as president would be radically different than his policies at Bain?

As the Daily Kos reports, this story is getting some traction in the media.

Sensata Technologies workers have been fighting for months to let the world know what Bain Capital and Mitt Romney were doing to them: packing up a profitable plant in Illinois and sending the jobs to China, forcing American workers to train the Chinese workers who would ultimately replace them. Mitt Romney still isn’t acknowledging his responsibility, either for the way of doing business he set up at Bain or for the millions he personally has invested in the funds that control Sensata. But the Sensata story is catching fire, and the workers are letting voters know what a Romney jobs plan looks like.

  • Sensata worker Mary Jo Kerr was on The Ed Showon Monday night, saying she had initially liked Romney before she learned his connection to Bain and Sensata. About Romney’s campaign claims, she says that “he’s just a bold-faced liar. He’s going out there saying ‘I’m going to create American jobs’ when no, he’s not, he’s profiting off of jobs going overseas.”The Ed Show will go on the road to Freeport, Illinois, on Friday.
  • Bainport, the camp workers have set up across the street from the Sensata factory, is getting a visit from Sen. Dick Durbin, along with Democratic congressional candidate Cheri Bustos, on Tuesday morning.The Rev. Al Sharpton will visit Bainport on Saturday.
  • Workers not just from Sensata but from other Bain-owned companies rallied outside Bain headquartersin Manhattan on Monday. “I was unemployed for two years and the job at Burlington is the only job I could find. I know I’m not the only one with that experience,” Burlington Coat Factory employee Richard Hooten said. “My mother and I have had to move to a series of smaller and cheaper apartments. Even so, I can’t afford both rent and healthcare. What’s going to happen when these are the only jobs we can find? None of us will be able to get by.”The workers are going to Long Island to tell their stories outside Tuesday night’s presidential debate.

This is the Romney Economy.

 

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