Workers at Sensata Technologies, a business based in Freeport, Illinois, have been protesting Mitt Romney’s campaign stops across the country all summer because the company, which is owned by Bain Capital, is laying off workers in order to hire employees in China. Bain took control of Sensata in 2006; last year, it took over the Freeport plant and announced that it would layoff 165 workers and close it.
Some of the workers, according to Sensata employees, have been forced to train their Chinese replacements, adding insult to the injury that was their looming job loss.
Bain’s role in the layoffs hasn’t been a secret. But given that it took control of Sensata and the plant well after Romney’s departure from the firm, the candidate has thus far steered clear of the controversy, only drawing protests from the workers who want him to step in and stop the plant’s closure. But according to documents detailing Romney’s finances obtained and published yesterday by Gawker, his connection to Sensata is much more direct.
Romney held a direct investment in Sensata through one fund titled “Bain Capital Fund IX, L.P.,” dated December 31, 2009, meaning he has likely financially benefited from Bain’s ownership of the company in the past, and could benefit from the plant’s closure and the outsourcing of the jobs to China. According to his 2011 personal financial disclosure, Romney still holds the Bain Capital fund that contains the Sensata investment.
Romney has a history of outsourcing jobs as the chief executive of Bain Capital. The Washington Post reported in June that under Romney’s leadership Bain “invested in a series of firms that specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China and India.” Other companies in which the firm invested sent jobs to Mexico and other low-wage countries around the world.
While that history might be politically toxic, Romney’s proposals wouldn’t stop the outsourcing of American jobs. In fact, his plan to reform the corporate tax code by instituting a territorial tax system would make it easier for American companies to outsource jobs, while at the same time encouraging them to store even more money in offshore tax havens.
Sensata workers, meanwhile, are planning to protest Romney and Bain’s involvement in Sensata at the Republican National Convention next week.