Put Your Money Where Your Mouth is in Freeport

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentarySensata Technologies, located in Freeport, Illinois (our backyard), has announced that it will close its manufacturing plant in Freeport and ship all of its manufacturing jobs to China. Sensata manufactures electronic sensors. All 170 workers will lose their jobs, and another vital industry will move out of Illinois. In this day of a weak and uncertain economy this does not sound all that out of place. But there is more to this story. It is not just the loss of good paying jobs that hurts, although it does hurt—especially for those employed and their families who will feel the loss. It is not just Freeport that will lose another company that needs an arch of stability. This is a story of what is ethically right and taking responsibility.

What my readers may not know is that Sensata Technologies is owned by Bain Capital. Yes, Bain Capital—the company that is partly owned by current Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. If my readers may recall, Mitt Romney made a “solemn” pledge that he would, if elected president, do all he can to keep American jobs in America. Well, that situation has come up in Freeport. If he is truly to show himself as president, he must do what he can now to save the jobs of 170 people in Freeport. More than save jobs, he must make sure he keeps a solemn promise to keep jobs in America. This should start right now. It does not matter if he is president or not. A president, or any leader, must show that all important quality called leadership. Mitt Romney said that he is no longer part of Bain’s management, and has not been since 1998. All right, technically he is no longer in the decision making process of the company.

However, he is still an important shareholder in Bain. He has 7.8 million dollars invested in Bain Capital, and that should give him an important say in what Bain does. Romney has pledged to preserve American jobs, and he has a voice in Bain. Even if he cannot force Bain to change its plans to move its operations to China, he should try his very, very best. If he fails to get Bain to change its mind, he should completely divest from Bain. His candidacy and presidency will rest on this. Even if he is not president now, his leadership qualities are being tested now. He may not have chosen the fight, but the fight is before him. We are talking about a man who has pledged to save American jobs. We are talking about whether a Mitt Romney presidency would be worth having. We are talking about whether a man will do the right thing, or kowtow to whatever corporate business dictates.

The mayor of Freeport, George Gaulrapp, and the Freeport City Council, have passed a resolution calling for Sensata Technologies to stay. They have also passed a resolution beseeching Mitt Romney to intervene. The Sensata workers want to keep their jobs. But this fight goes well beyond just a local or even an Illinois issue. This fight goes to the heart of keeping American jobs, saving American companies, and whether a certain presidential candidate will keep his word. So will Mitt Romney put his money where his mouth is in Freeport?

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