Workers in Tampa say “no” to the Romney economy

TAMPA, Fla. – Even before the official opening of the Republican Convention here Aug. 27 workers have been targeting the places where GOP delegates gather to voice opposition to Mitt Romney’s prescriptions for the economy.

Hundreds of minimum wage workers and employees of Bain Capital-owned companies including Staples, Dunkin’ Donuts and Sensata Technologies in Freeport, Illinois have marched to the places where delegates gather to send their message of opposition to the Romney economy.

Protesters are carrying signs, banners, balloons and flags and they are blowing horns and whistles whenever they get near Republican events.

At Gaslight Park they unveiled large ice sculptures of the words Middle Class which were allowed to melt away. Many of those who made and unveiled the ice sculpture are also involved in a petition drive calling on Congress to increase the federal minimum wage.

At a “red-carpet” event for delegates minimum wage workers laid down on the sidewalk Sunday afternoon, blanketing themselves under their own red carpet. “We are showing how the Republicans, with their economic policies, are trampling over workers,” said Catherine Murell, a StandupChicago organizer who dropped to the sidewalk with a contingent of workers from Dunkin’ Donuts and Burlington Coat factory, both owned by Bain.

Some 300 workers posted protest signs on the chain-link fence beyond which anyone who is not a delegate to the convention is allowed. “We want the message of America’s workers to be the last thing they see before they go into the convention,” said Murell.

Many of the signs posted on the fence by the minimum wage workers, unemployed, students and seniors call upon Romney to cease his support for more tax cuts for the rich and focus instead on creating good jobs and raising the minimum wage.

Minimum wage workers in the crowd come from a variety of fast food and restaurant jobs, in addition to the companies owned by Bain.

Cheryl Randecker, a soon-to-be outsourced employee of the Bain-owned Sensata Technologies was among the marchers. “What was really outrageous,” she said, “was how we had to train our own replacements who will do our jobs at the new overseas location. It was like having to dig your own grave.”

Workers at her plant have been struggling to save their jobs for a year, with Bain planning to outsource them in December. They have been calling upon Mitt Romney, Bain’s founder and a current investor in Bain-owned Sensata, to use his influence to stop the outsourcing of their jobs.

“He has been saying he is out of the company,” said Gaulrapp, another Sensata worker protesting in Tampa. “But to this very day, as a big-time investor in Bain, he is clearly profiting outsourcing our jobs.”

Workers in Tampa say people held fundraisers back home to help them pay their way to come and protest at the Republican Convention.

Photo: StandUp Chicago


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.