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Tom Gaulrapp Headshot

My Pain Is Mitt Romney's Gain: My Story as a Sensata Worker

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On Monday, November 5th Bain Capital is outsourcing my job to China. On Tuesday, November 6th I'm casting my vote against Mitt Romney.

Yes, I blame Mitt Romney for the loss of my job. Here's why.

I've worked at the same factory in Freeport, Ill. for thirty-three years, making sensors and controls for the auto industry. It's tough work, but it pays a living wage with health benefits that folks can count on, and it fuels our town's economy and tax base.

That's been changing since Bain Capital came to town. Two years ago, our factory was sold to Sensata Technologies, a company created by Bain Capital, and they told us that by December 2012, all 170 of our jobs would be shipped to China. They even made us train our Chinese replacements.

Layoff notices have been sent out, and some folks have already been laid off. Where there was once lots of people and energy and life, now there's only the discoloration on the floor where the machinery used to be. It's depressing. They're not just dismantling the equipment and the plant; they're dismantling our community.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do after my job is sent to China. I thought that at this point in my life, after thirty-three years of working at the plant, that I'd be heading toward retirement. Now, I'm worried that I'll be competing with my nephew for the minimum wage jobs that are just about all that's left in our town.

I hold Mitt Romney responsible because he created Bain Capital. He helped pioneer the outsourcing of good American jobs to China, and he created the model that the company has followed over the years. It's a business model that puts profits above people -- at all cost to us back home. And it's the approach he would take as CEO of our country.

But Mitt Romney's connection to Sensata is even more direct. He is also personally invested in Sensata Technologies, according to his 2010 and 2011 tax returns, and last year got a huge tax break by moving some of his Sensata stock to one of his foundations.

That's right: Mitt Romney got a big tax break on his investment in his company that's shipping my job to China. My pain is Mitt Romney's gain.

For the past five months, my co-workers and I have been calling on Mitt Romney to step in and save our jobs. We thought hey, this guy is running for president and talking about creating new jobs here in America. He even talks tough about China stealing jobs from America. Here's his chance to help stop 170 jobs from being outsourced to China by his own company.

We held rallies outside of the plant. We collected more than 30,000 petition signatures and delivered them to Bain Headquarters and several Romney campaign offices. Our city council passed a resolution calling on Romney to come to Freeport and save our jobs. We went down to Tampa during the Republican convention to try to meet with the Romney campaign.

For the last four weeks, I've been sleeping in a tent city across from the Sensata plant with several of my co-workers in what we call "Bainport," and we won't leave until Romney steps in. Three of our community supporters have even been arrested for blocking the trucks that are taking the equipment out of the plant and off to China.

But Mitt Romney hasn't lifted a finger to help us. Instead, his campaign blamed the outsourcing of our jobs to China on President Obama, because his pension with the Illinois State government has invested in Sensata.

The Romney campaign didn't mention Mitt's personal investment in Sensata, the big tax break he got from shifting his Sensata stock to his foundation, or his own role in Bain's longtime practice of outsourcing. Instead of owning up to his past and helping save our jobs, he decided to play politics with our lives.

In Romney's world, everyone else is guilty and he's the innocent bystander.

Fortunately, our story is beginning to be heard. Last week, I was quoted in an article that was on the front page of the New York Times about Romney, Bain and China. Our country should know that the issues being debated in this presidential election are not abstract, and are playing out everyday in my community.

In 20 days, on November 5th, I'll be out of a job.

In 21 days, on November 6th, Americans head to the ballot box to cast their vote for our country's future. When they do, I hope they'll keep in mind the story of Sensata.