Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks at the Bainport encampment in Freeport Oct 22, 2012 before marching to the Sensata factory to ask for a full severance for the 170 workers whose jobs are being outsourced to China in November.
Rev. Jesse Jackson (center) leads a march to the Sensata Technologies plant in Freeport from the nearby Bainport encampment Monday with Sensata workers, protesters, and local politicians. Jackson attempted to speak with Sensata management.
Freeport, Ill. —
Civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson spoke to a spirited crowd at the “Bainport” encampment in Freeport on Monday. Jackson stressed to the workers that Sensata is “foreign policy for the greedy” and told workers that they deserved a full severance package from the plant.
“We must draw the line here in Freeport,” said Jackson. “The Chinese are not taking jobs from us; we are taking jobs to them. We all look the same in the dark; it’s time to turn the lights on.”
The event began with Sensata employees Dot Turner and Tom Gaulrapp making statements regarding their impending job losses before Jackson took to the stage speak to protesters.
“I’ve been over there for 43 years, but when they pull the rug out from beneath you, past performance doesn’t count,” said Turner. “We don’t have anyone in the board room fighting for us.”
The “Bainport” encampment, which is in its 41st day, was established across from the Sensata plant in Freeport to protest the outsourcing of jobs. By the end of the year, 170 jobs at the facility will be lost to China.
“We can compete with China when the rules are fair,” said Jackson. “We demand a place on the agenda; we want a fair trade policy.”
The Sensata protests have gained national attention because it is owned by Bain Capital, which was formerly run by Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. In recent months, the “Bainport” camp has hosted U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Reverend Al Sharpton, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, among others.
“This is more than Bain, this is corporate trade policy,” said Jackson. “Sensata can leave, but we are staying.”
After Jackson’s speech he led protestors across the street to the lobby of Sensata, where in recent weeks nine protestors had been arrested. The crowd chanted “full severance now” and “save our plants, save our jobs” as they converged on the lobby.
Once inside the lobby, Jackson spoke by phone with security asking for entry and full severance for the workers. After being denied access to the building, police arrived on the scene and asked protesters to leave the grounds. No arrests were made.
“This must end, and we must be prepared,” said Jackson. “This is the fight of our time. We see a whole trend taking place. The American worker is not getting a fair shake. This issue is about American corporations preying on us.”
Jackson planned to remain in Freeport Monday night to watch the third and final presidential debate with protesters.
Sensata develops, manufactures and sells sensors and controls for auto companies.