A group of workers at companies that have had ties to Bain Capital traveled to the Quad-Cities on Monday, arguing that an economy under Republican Mitt Romney would see even more outsourcing of American jobs.
The “Bain Worker Bus Tour” stopped at the Moline Public Library, and a handful of workers — along with local supporters — said outsourcing is destroying families and communities.
“Our jobs are being taken away, and I don’t understand why,” said Mark Schreck, 36, of Freeport, Ill.
Schreck works at Sensata Technologies, an automotive sensor maker in Freeport that is being closed at the end of the year and its production line moved to China.
The move will cost 170 jobs.
Sensata workers have been dogging Romney for weeks — they demonstrated at his appearance in Bettendorf last month — and recently, they set up an encampment across from their workplace, dubbing it Bainport. They’ve been asking Romney to intercede.
In addition to Sensata, workers from Dunkin’ Donuts and Guitar Center, a California-based musical instrument retailer, were on the tour. Bain no longer has an interest in Dunkin’ Donuts.
Bain purchased Sensata in 2006, and the company bought Honeywell’s automotive sensor business in Freeport early last year. Sensata says it is consolidating operations in Freeport and other sites to be closer to its overseas customers and that it has been upfront about its plans from the beginning.
Tom Gaulrapp, a longtime worker at the Freeport plant, expects to lose his job the day after the Nov. 6 election. He said workers are still hopeful, but they’re realists about their fate.
“At this point, it would take a miracle,” he said.
Schreck said his job probably will be eliminated in mid-October, and this will be the second time his job will have been outsourced. Honeywell eliminated his previous job, he said.
Romney left Bain long before it bought Sensata — or any of the companies whose workers were on the bus tour. But Schreck said it was Romney who “put the model in place.” Romney also receives profits from Bain.
The Romney campaign issued a statement in response to the tour, saying: “It’s President Obama who has failed to stand up to China, as they steal our technology, our ideas and our jobs.”
Much of Monday’s rally was peppered with anti-Romney comments. But afterward, Schreck said he also has doubts about President Barack Obama. He noted that Honeywell’s chief executive, David Cote, had taken a position on an Obama-appointed committee.
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“I’m not real happy about that,” Schreck said.
Cote was on the Simpson-Bowles commission, which came up with options on reducing the national debt.
The president’s re-election campaign has targeted Romney’s tenure at Bain throughout the campaign, and it promoted another worker Monday to tell his experiences with a former Bain-owned company. The bus tour was arranged by a coalition of progressive groups and the labor union SEIU. It plans to visit several swing states.
In addition to Romney, the people on the tour targeted U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill., equating his policies with Romney’s.
Schilling and rival Democrat Cheri Bustos have clashed over outsourcing, including the Bring American Jobs Home Act, legislation Democrats introduced that would give a 20 percent tax credit for relocation expenses for companies that move jobs back to the U.S. It also would prohibit a tax credit for moving expenses for a business moving work outside the country.
Bustos supports the measure. Schilling does not. The congressman has said that lowering the corporate tax rate and easing regulations is the key to creating jobs.
Bustos said in a statement Monday that she backs the Sensata workers and would “fight for tax incentives that encourage companies to bring those jobs back home.”
Schilling’s campaign responded to the tour by saying the congressman has asked the Sensata company to reverse its decision. It added, there is “only one candidate in this race who will stand up for local jobs — and that’s Bobby Schilling.”