FREEPORT, Ill. - What happens when you try to get Mitt Romney's attention at a campaign rally? The Republican's jeering tea party supporters call you communists. Outsourced Sensata workers, famous nationally now for their 37-day protest encampment here called "Bainport," report that's just what happened to them yesterday.
The 170 workers losing their jobs as Sensata Technologies relocates to Jiangsu, China, say Romney himself, who owns stock in the Bain-owned Sensata, is in a position to keep their jobs here. They note that the company has made profits in Freeport and say that the only reason to outsource is to make even more profits. Romney's Bain Capital will only have to pay the workers 99 cents per hour rather than the $17 and up the workers earned here.
Tom Gaulrapp, who has been with the company for 33 years, and whose job will end Nov.5 -- the day before the election -- said he and his outsourced co-workers travelled to a Romney rally in Bettendorf, Iowa. "We've been trying to get his attention for months," Gaulrapp said, "But to no avail. He ignored us at the GOP convention in Tampa, at the debate in Hempstead, at his campaign offices - everywhere. So we figured we'd try to get his attention at a campaign rally."
"We want him to speak to us or to come here so he can see what this whole policy of outsourcing does to people and what it does to their communities."
When Gaulrapp and his coworkers got to the rally they took good seats pretty close to the front. Gaulrapp said that he got to ask the candidate: "Will you please come to Freeport, our town, and do something to help us save our jobs?"
At that very moment, he said, security people arrived and removed the Sensata workers. Gaulrapp said that as they were being removed the Romney supporters at the rally began chanting, "U.S.A.!"
"Yes we agree," we were saying back, said Gaulrapp.
"Then, the Romney supporters started yelling and calling us communists," Gaulrapp said. "They were chanting 'USA' against us while their candidate is the one sending American jobs out of the country and we are the ones fighting for those American jobs.
"Here we are, trying everything we know how to keep our jobs from being shipped off to China, and for that they were calling us communists. Go figure!"
The support Sensata workers are getting from around the country mushroomed this week. The New York Times, CNN and MSNBC News have picked up the story and Ed Schultz of MSNBC's Ed Show will do its nightly broadcast this Friday from the Bainport encampment.