Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bainport: Shipping Jobs to China

There is no more vivid example of Romney hypocrisy (well, perhaps I shouldn’t say that; Romney’s campaign consists almost wholly of hypocrisy) than what’s been happening in Freeport, IL at the Bain Capital-owned Sensata plant. Sensata makes automobile parts like sensors—you know for the American car industry that Romney thought should be jettisoned. And its owner, Bain Capital (hence the name protesting workers have given to Freeport: Bainport) has recently decided that it’s moving the whole plant, lock, stock, and barrel, (without its workers, of course) to China. But, you may say, Romney has vowed countless times that he’ll be “tougher” on China than Obama, and that he’s going to be moving millions of jobs back to the U.S.A. In the realm of action, though, what the company he founded and used to head, and in which he still owns major stock, is doing is shipping the whole thing to China (where wages are an average 85% lower). You can read about this on a great website,, which has all kinds of goodies, including a just-released documentary on the whole ugly story.
            I heard about it this morning on Philip Muldaury’s show on KPFA, and it really is ugly. Not only are these capitalist swine moving the whole company to China, but before doing so, they brought Chinese workers to Freeport to be trained by the very Americans they are going to replace. The American workers had no choice but to train their Chinese successors because if they didn’t, they were threatened with firing right away, which would then lose them their unemployment compensation. What I also heard, and then read about on, was that many of the company’s workers have refused to take this lying down. They’ve established picket lines and started a whole series of actions (including a protest to the National Labor Relations Board) to try to stop the move. So far, it hasn’t worked, but it has certainly pointed to the massive hypocrisy in the entire Romney rationale for being President (watch what I say, not what I do). Said one protester—retired plumber Paul Holz, who was arrested, American flag in hand, for demonstrating outside Sensata:
            "I am totally against outsourcing work from America. Jobs need to stay here, so I decided to go down and join the protests." (The Guardian, October 27).
Other workers have set up an encampment outside the plant,  held protests, and tried to block vehicles shipping the plant parts to China. The result has been over 20 arrests, including the arrest of Jesse Jackson. The company, in turn, has threatened to close the plant even earlier than planned if the demonstrations continue. At least one worker, Joanne Penniston, 35, was unintimidated, noting that the plant is closing anyway. With a daughter to support, though, and her job ending December 16, Penniston is worried:
            "There are no jobs here in Freeport. It's like a ghost town. Probably I will have to move," she said. (The Guardian)

            That shouldn’t bother Mitt; it’s investor profit, after all. And maybe that’s his plan for America: create enough ghost towns, get enough workers unemployed, and moving, and desperate, and willing to work for Chinese wages, and then maybe his capitalist cronies will begin to find America a “profitable” place to invest in again. Maybe. Meantime, it appears that large numbers of Americans are believing his promises to create 12 million new jobs (I keep waiting for him to show his magic wand of job creation, but it appears that all a candidate has to do is say something like this often enough, and the rubes believe him!) to have upped his poll numbers to the point where some polls actually have him ahead of the President.
            Seriously. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Lawrence DiStasi

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