Mitt Romney has repeatedly asserted that his experience as a successful businessman qualifies him to be president.
The workers from the Sensata plant in Freeport, Ill., pop. 25,000, ardently disagree.
This factory, majority owned by Bain Capital, is shutting its doors, shipping all the jobs and equipment to China and dealing a blow to this struggling rust belt town.
Romney founded Bain Capital and created its business model: acquiring companies by saddling them with debt and then squeezing them for profit by laying off workers. But communities suffer from these job losses. And government is burdened with the cost of delivering expensive services to laid-off workers including re-training, unemployment, food stamps. (More details on this business model here in Matt Taibbi's seering piece on Romney and Bain).
Essentially, the public loses so wealthy investors can gain.
"If he wants to really be in touch with his middle class citizens, we welcome him to come to this town and see what the outsourcing that his company Bain, that he made, is doing to communities like this" said Cheryl Randecker, who was outsourced last week after 35 years at the Sensata factory.
By the end of December, 170 workers from this auto sensor plant will be laid off. The already limping local economy will lose tens of millions of dollars. Meanwhile, last year, the company's sensor division made a record $390 million profit.
"This is not about moving these jobs because we need to be competitive," said factory worker Tom Gaulrapp. "This is pure greed."
In June, volunteers going door-to-door seeking signatures for a petition in support of "Bring the Jobs Home" Act meet some of the workers. This Act would have eliminated tax incentives corporations receive for outsourcing jobs and replaced them with incentives for keeping jobs in America. In July, 42 Republican senators blocked passage of "Bring the Jobs Home" Act.
The workers began to organize and hold community meetings.
When they read about Romney's plan to "create 12 million jobs," they decided to ask him to use his influence with Bain Capital to save their jobs.
"We need to save the jobs. We don't need to create jobs," said outsourced worker Kim Wild, who worked at the plant for 29 years.
The workers appealed to Romney. They sent him a petition with 35,000 signatures, attended Romney events, visited his campaign offices and rallied in front of their factory.
Since September 12, workers have been encamped across the street from the factory, a location they dubbed "Bainport," in an effort to gain Romney's attention.
Romney has still not responded.
When Sensata purchased this plant from Honeywell two years ago, it placed an arbitrary cap on severance pay, effectively slashing many of the workers severance by half.
The workers plan to stay encamped at Bainport until Sensata agrees to give them all their full promised severance.
It's day 56 at Bainport.