FREEPORT, Ill. - The 170 workers whose jobs are slated to be shipped to China this December, and the town's mayor, are pressing their Republican representatives to do more to keep the jobs here.
When workers at the Bain Capital-owned plant, Sensata Technologies Inc., learned the company was moving its auto-sensor business overseas, they petitioned two local congressmen for help: Reps. Don Manzullo and Bobby Schilling, both Republicans. The workers collected 1,000 signatures in Freeport, pleading with the two House members to help.
They had to petition two members of Congress because of redistricting. Manzullo will be their representative only until the end of the current session of Congress. After that Freeport will be in Schilling's district.
The congressmen sent a letter to the company, said Mayor George Gaulrapp, and "they sent me a copy of the response they got from Sensata's CEO, Thomas Wroe, saying basically that whatever the problems this might cause for workers and for our town, the company needed to go ahead with the outsourcing."
The People's World obtained a copy of the CEO's reply. It read, in part: "I know this has been and continues to be difficult for the employees impacted by this move ... The pending consolidation (sic) of the operations in Freeport into other Sensata locations is a required step as part of our acquisition of the business and is in no way a reflection of the dedication and skills of the Freeport workforce. We will cease manufacturing operations in Freeport by the end of this year."
CEO Wroe expressed Sensata's "appreciation" of the "understanding" the GOP lawmakers had regarding the needs of global corporations.
The mayor commented, "OK, so our response to the congressmen is, where do we go from here. The company says it will go ahead with outsourcing. The job now is to put on more pressure, to figure out our next steps. Manzullo is on the way out but Schilling is on the way in and even though he is a strong tea party supporter he certainly understands the need to keep businesses and jobs here in town and in America."
While workers at the plant are seeking support from wherever they can get it they say their Republican representatives will have to produce results, not just words.
"Manzullo was not at all happy when we presented him with 1,000 signatures on petitions seeking his help in saving our jobs," said Tom Gaulrapp, a 33-year worker at the doomed plant, and not related to the mayor. "Schilling was friendlier but now all we have is a a copy of a response from the company that it will go ahead with the outsourcing."
The voting records of the two Republicans are a major concern for the workers.
"Both of them turned around and after we met with them about our plight voted against the Bring Jobs Home Act. How can you claim you are in our corner and that you want to fight for our jobs and then go and vote against a bill that would bring jobs back to America?" asked Tom Gaulrapp.
Rep. Schilling's website has a section that purports to show his support for numerous job creation initiatives.
Among the so-called job-creation measures he lists are the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, the Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act and bills that would slash environmental regulations and union rights at workplaces. None of the measures would create any jobs.
Calls to the offices of both representatives seeking comment have not been returned.
"If we are going to work together and be serious about keeping jobs here at home or bringing jobs back from overseas we are going to have to talk about enacting regulations and policies that help ensure that happens," said Mayor Gaulrapp.
Photo: Save Our Jobs Facebook page.