Tampa workers descend on Bain-owned company

TAMPA, Fla. – Some 200 workers protested Aug. 27 outside the Bloomin’ Brands corporate headquarters here demanding that Mitt Romney’s company, Bain Capital, pay its workers more and that it stop outsourcing their jobs.

“How many millions do you need? We’ve got hungry mouths to feed!,” they chanted, as they waved signs reading, “Don’t let Bain Capital destroy the middle class.”

Boomin’ Brands owns Outback Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill and other restaurant chains and is controlled by Bain Capital, the private equity firm founded by Romney. The Republican presidential candidate continues to be the firm’s major investor.

Mike Stuart, 29, of Philadelphia was among the workers in the crowd. He told the local press that he has been working for a Bain-owned music chain, the Guitar Center, for five years and is still making $7.25 an hour, the minimum wage. “I’m not looking to be a millionaire, but a couple of extra dollars would help out,” he said.

Other workers there said the minimum wage should be raised to ten to twelve dollars an hour for anyone to be able to live off of it.

Workers from Bain-owned Sensata Technologies who are about to have their jobs outsourced were protesting Aug. 27 at the “Romneyville” encampment here.

Sensata Technologies, which makes sensors and controls for the auto industry and is owned by Bain Capital, plans to close the Freeport, Il. Plant by the end of this year and relocate in China. Workers at the plant, including the ones protesting here, had to train their replacements from China.

“There’s always a chance we can stop this,” Cheryl Rendecker, who has worked at the plant for 33 years told the Peoples World. Rendecker said there is no union in the plant “but labor has helped us to build the fight, and we have gotten a lot of community support.

Rendecker said that severance pay will amount to just a week’s pay for every year at the plant which, in her case, means 26 weeks pay.

Joanne Penniston, a six-year plant veteran and single mother of two, the older a grade “A” junior high school student, said, “Gov. Romney needs to personally get involved in this. He is still tied to Bain and can get them to turn this around. I know it’s a big battle but it was such a good feeling to be marching peacefully with all the others.”

Photo: Chris O’Meara/AP Photo