Employees at an Illinois Sensata Technologies plant delivered a petition to Bain Capital Tuesday night, demanding that the private equity firm step in and prevent the scheduled outsourcing of 165 jobs at the company, which it owns.
In 2006, Bain Capital purchased what was then a subsidiary of Texas Instruments and renamed it Sensata Technologies. Five years later, Bain-owned Sensata took over a sensors and controls plant in Freeport, Ill., from Honeywell, and then announced it would be phasing out 165 jobs at the plant by the end of 2012. Those jobs are now headed to China and the plant will be closed. Representatives for Bain did not respond to request for comment.
Plant employee Cheryl Randecker spearheaded the petition, which would grow to 35,000 signatures and gain the support of Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and others. The petition calls on Bain Capital to "save these jobs before it's too late." It also names Mitt Romney, the former Bain Capital CEO, asking him to "speak out and insist that Bain Capital -- a company that he helped start and that he continues to profit from -- do the right thing."
Randecker, a 52-year-old mother who has worked at the Sensata plant for 33 years, is slated to lose her job by the end of the year. And like others at the plant, she says she's been forced to train her replacement from China.
"With so many hardworking Americans still out of work, the last thing our country or our state needs is another corporation shipping good, American jobs to China," Schakowsky said in a statement sent to The Huffington Post. "Not only is Bain taking away these workers' incomes and livelihoods, the company is forcing them to train their replacements from China. That's outrageous."
She continued, "I applaud all the workers at the Sensata plant who have had the courage to stand up against this epidemic of outsourcing."
Though Romney has said he retired from Bain in 1999, years before Bain bought Sensata, Randecker says the presumptive Republican presidential nominee bears some responsibility for the job losses at the plant.
"He was actually the one who created the model. I do blame him," Randecker told The Huffington Post, adding that the former Massachusetts governor still wields tremendous influence over the private equity firm.
The delivery of the petition on Tuesday was the latest step in an active campaign by some Sensata employees and their allies. They've held several protests over the last few months to try to raise awareness of the impending outsourcing, in addition to bringing their cause to the Freeport City Council. In July, the council unanimously passed a resolution calling on Romney to prevent the jobs from leaving the city.
"These people felt it was a little hypocritical that [Romney] was with Bain Capital, he organized some of the processes, and now he's touring the country ... saying we need to keep jobs here in the United States," Freeport Mayor George Gaulrapp (D) told The Huffington Post in July. "And yet for a long time, he made a lot of profits by tearing companies apart and sending them overseas."
But the efforts to keep the jobs at the Freeport plant haven't come from just one side of the aisle. Two Republicans, Reps. Bobby Schilling (R-Ill.) and Don Manzullo (R-Ill.), asked Sensata's CEO to reconsider the company's decision to relocate production to China in a July letter. Manzullo currently represents Freeport, but once redistricting takes effect this election cycle, Schilling hopes to represent the city as part of the new 17th Congressional District.
However, the two Republicans have not signed the most recent petition. They argue that Bain Capital can't be held responsible for what are ultimately the decisions of Sensata's CEO and board of directors.
"We would love to keep the company here in Freeport, there's a great workforce out there, and we strongly supported that and made our intentions known to Sensata," Manzullo spokesman Rich Carter told The Huffington Post. "The information we have is it's not a Bain decision, it's a Sensata decision," he added, referencing a letter that the CEO sent to the representatives.
"Our customers are global and we have located our major business and manufacturing facilities near them in locations around the world. Two-thirds of our revenues come from outside of the U.S.," Sensata CEO Thomas Wroe Jr. wrote in the letter, continuing, "We know these layoffs are very difficult for the people affected and we have made efforts to ameliorate this."
Andrea Pivarunas, a spokeswoman for Schilling, echoed that perspective and suggested that the blame for the job losses lies with the Democratic Party.
"Illinois Democrats over the last several decades have not only been outsourcing Illinois jobs to other nations but also to neighboring states like Iowa, Indiana, and Wisconsin," Pivarunas said in an email to HuffPost. "Their policies of over-regulation, over-taxation, and over-spending have sent Illinois companies packing over the years, taking many jobs with them."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that Rep. Jan Schakowsky helped deliver the Sensata employee petition and spoke Tuesday. Alex Armour, political director for Schakowsky's campaign, sent a statement from the congresswoman to HuffPost, and confirmed later Wednesday that the statement was said by the congresswoman "last night." Armour informed HuffPost late Wednesday that the congresswoman was not in attendance Tuesday.
Photo from the protest:
(Photo credit: Ilya Sheyman)
Also on HuffPost:
SEC Filings List Romney As 'Chief Executive Officer'
According to the <em><a href="http://www.boston.com/news/politics/articles/2012/07/12/government_documents_indicate_mitt_romney_continued_at_bain_after_date_when_he_says_he_left/" target="_hplink"><em>Boston Globe</em></a></em>, Securites and Exchange Commission documents filed by Bain Capital after February 1999 list Romney as the private equity firm's "stole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president."
The <em><a href="http://www.boston.com/news/politics/articles/2012/07/12/government_documents_indicate_mitt_romney_continued_at_bain_after_date_when_he_says_he_left/" target="_hplink">Globe</a></em> also found financial disclosure forms filed by Romney that indicate he still owned 100 percent of Bain in 2002, and earned at least $100,000 as an "executive" for the firm in 2001 and 2002.
As <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/12/mitt-romney-bain-departure_n_1669006.html?utm_hp_ref=politics" target="_hplink">The Huffington Post</a> reported, sworn testimony given by Romney in 2002 undermined his claims that he left Bain in 1999. In that testimony, given as part of a hearing to determine if he had sufficient Massachusetts residency to run for governor, Romney said that he "remained on the board" of the LifeLike Co., which Bain held a stake in at the time. LifeLike's 2000 <a href="http://www.sos.state.co.us/biz/ViewImage.do?fileId=20001165127&masterFileId=19961077091" target="_hplink">corporate filing</a>, filed with the state of Colorado, lists Romney as a director.
More SEC Filings
HuffPost's Jason Cherkis and Ryan Grim identified at least <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/13/mitt-romney-bain-sec_n_1671819.html" target="_hplink">six documents</a> filed by Bain Capital with the SEC from 1999 to 2001 that were signed by Mitt Romney. Most of the documents refer to Romney as the "reporting person."
'Managing Member' In 2002
HuffPost <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/15/mitt-romney-bain-capital_n_1674209.html?utm_hp_ref=politics" target="_hplink">reported</a> on a 2002 corporate document filed with the state of Massachusetts that shows Romney listed as one of two managing members of Bain Capital Investors, an entity of the private equity firm.
Signed Documents After 1999
Romney signed an SEC filing in November 1999 pursuant to Bain's partial acquisition of medical-waste firm Stericycle, <em><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mitt-romney-bain-financial-disclosure" target="_hplink">Mother Jones</a></em> reported. The filing noted that he was the "sole shareholder, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President" of the Bain entities involved in the $75 million deal.
2001 & 2002 SEC Filings
<a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2012/07/no_romney_didnt_leave_bain_in_1999.php" target="_hplink">Talking Points Memo</a> uncovered two SEC filings from July 2000 and February 2001. In both, Romney lists his "principal occupation" as "Managing Director of Bain Capital, Inc."
1999 News Reports
As Slate's <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2012/07/13/did_the_romney_campaign_create_the_swift_yachting_story_.html" target="_hplink">Dave Weigel</a> pointed out, Romney's campaign has cited news reports from 1999 that clearly state that Romney left Bain in 1999. However, those same news reports state that Romney would still be involved with the company. "Romney said he will stay on as a part-timer with Bain, providing input on investment and key personnel decisions," read one such report from the <em>Boston Herald</em>
Former Partner Speaks Out
A former Bain Capital partner, Ed Conard, said during an appearance on MSNBC's "<a href="http://upwithchrishayes.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/07/15/12751962-former-bain-capital-partner-says-romney-was-legally-ceo-of-bain-capital-until-2002" target="_hplink">Up W/Chris Hayes</a>" that Romney was "legally" the CEO and sole owner of Bain Capital until 2002, as an ownership battle dragged on after Romney left to take over the Salt Lake City Olympics. "We had a very complicated set of negotiations that took us about two years for us to unwind. During that time a management committee ran the firm, and we could hardly get Mitt to come back to negotiate the terms of his departure because he was working so hard on the Olympics," Conard said.
Relationships With Problematic Companies
HuffPost's Sam Stein <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/16/mitt-romney-bain-capital_n_1677133.html" target="_hplink">reported</a> that SEC filings link Romney to politically problematic companies after his alleged 1999 departure from Bain: <blockquote>A Huffington Post review of SEC files unearthed six separate occasions in which Romney was listed as a member of "the Management Committee" of both Bain Capital Investment Partners and BCIP Trust, "deemed to share voting and dispositive power with respect to" shares held of DDi. In one of those filings, Romney is listed as president and managing director of Bain Capital, Inc. The dates of those filings range from April 14, 2000 to May 10, 2001 -- all after Romney had left for Salt Lake City. In one March 2001 filing, Romney signed the document as the "reporting person."</blockquote>
According at a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/16/mitt-romney-bain_n_1677259.html" target="_hplink">document</a> filed with the California Secretary of State's office in July 1999, Romney was listed as a "general partner" at Bain Capital Partners. Romney's signature appears on the document. Romney remained on record as a general partner until California was notified of his resignation in June 2003.