Sensata Update: Timeline
Section: Spin News
Like most great American tragedies, this is a story that has ramifications for every American. It’s a story about why the American middle class is failing but it is also a personal tragedy about American workers losing high-tech high paying manufacturing jobs to outsourcing. It’s about a town and the workers lives being destroyed for decidely unAmerican profits. The story is also a microcosm of how the super wealthy, such as Mr. Romney in this case, profit from destroying the wealth of the middle class by outsourcing American jobs to cheap ( 99 cents/ hour, slave) labor. As Dave Johnson notes in the video above.
Since 2000, the US has lost 5.5 million manufacturing jobs and most of these jobs moved to China which may pay workers as little as a $1 an hour. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney reported last year that he had divested all of his interests in China. As it turns out, he didn’t and still owns interests in Chinese companies. In addition, over the last two years he’s made a large profit using a unusual tax trick to pay a low tax rate on profits he made from a company named Sensata. The Sensata workers from Freeport Illinois are to be laid off near election day. The lay-offs were announced even though the Sensata had record profits. The jobs are being shipped to China.
The workers believe what Bain is doing is unethical because they’re being replaced by foreign labor that works for very low slave wages (about 99 cents per hour) in a communist country where plants operate without safety or pollution controls. The workers were also forced to train their Chinese replacements while the companies America flag over the plant was lowered.
Although Mr. Romney didn’t make this deal, the workers feel he should use his influence to stop the job losses. However, Mr. Romney has refused to intervene, accept a petition from the workers and their supporters or discuss the matter with the workers. The workers also point out that the business model used in this deal is similar to many of the deals that Mr. Romney made when he was at Bain. Bain purchased the company from Honeywell and then outsourced many HoneyWell jobs before renaming the company Sensata. Sensata is a European firm that is owned by Bain capital.
President Obama’s jobs bill would have prevented Bain from outsourcing the jobs. The bill was blocked by both Republicans and conservative Democrats. The bill would have also blocked Mr. Romney and Bain from receiving tax breaks for closing a company that is shipping jobs overseas.
Mr. Romney’s campaign has made a number of false statements in regards to the Sensata story. His campaign accused Mr. Obama of owning stock in the company (not true) and argued that Democrats were involved in the management of Bain without noting that the head of Sensata made a $655,000 donation to the Romney campaign. Mr. Romney’s campaign also falsely claimed that his money is in a blind trust so he has no control over it which isn’t the case. The media has expressed concerns over the legality and ethics of the tax maneuvers used by Romney to receive lower taxes for profits he earned from Sensata and other companies. Other argued that Mr. Romney is taking advantage of a unethical loophole in the laws that allow Bain to deduct the costs of closing the plant while transferring the jobs to China. Mr. Romney has also argued that Bain outsourced failing companies. However, Sensata was making record profits. More recently, Mr. Romney has argued that the President has Chinese investments through an old pension account. Of course, a pension account really is like a blind trust. You have no control over what specific investments. The Daily Caller was the only newspaper we are aware of to fall for this story. Republicans also have attempted to misdirect the public by accussing the Sensata workers of being communists. Finally, he falsely accused Chrysler of shipping jobs overseas.
The media as been good in some respects. For example, reporters argue that the only way to determine whether Romney’s taxes are not illegal or questionable would be to see them. However, Mr. Romney has refused to release his taxes for the period under questions (2000-2009). However, most reports, particularly in the main stream media, have been piecemeal. That is, they miss crucial elements of the story or include misleading or inaccurate information from the Romney campaign. Most mainstream news sources have yet to cover the story. The exceptions are Dave Johnson (see new video above) and his reports as well as Washington Post stories and John Nichols from The Nation (see below).
2006. Bain Capital purchased what was then a subsidiary of Texas Instruments and renamed it Sensata. Bain-owned Sensata took over the sensors and controls plant in Freeport, Illinois from Honeywell, and announced it would layoff the 165 employees by November 6th, 2012 and send the jobs to China.
2009. Crooks and Liars breaks the story and currently has three newer stories on their website but the last story was in August.
Dec 2011. Mr. Romney said he had divested all of his interests in China.
The New York Times reported that when Bain first led a buyout of Sensata, it laid off hundreds of American workers and sent their jobs offshore. The Labor Department spent $780,000 retraining the laid-off employees.
ABC news also confirmed that Mr. Romney’s claim of a blind trust with Bain was false.
In March 2012 Mr. Romney repeated that he was not invested in any Chinese companies when he was actually being sued for piracy of American products.
In June MSNBC runs a story about worker protests and Washington Post gives a detailed report on the story. Unlike most stories, the Washinton Post understands the implications for Mitt Romney claims as a job creator.
July 18th. A USA today story that used data from the Sunlight Foundation. The story reported that Stephen Zide, a Sensata board member and Bain alumn, and his wife gave the Romney Presidential election campaign $655,000. The Freeport City Council asked Mitt Romney to visit the town and ask the company to save the American jobs but Mr. Romney refused to respond. However, his campaign attempted to shift the blame by arguing that President Obama has taken $118,121 in campaign contributions from employees at Bain Capital and parent Bain & Co. since 2004. The report noted that Romney receive $4.5 million from these companies as well as over a million to Romney SuperPacs. Also, the Romney campaign falsely claimed that the President’s regulations were causing the jobs to be shipped to China.
July 19th. Republicans block insourcing bill that would have prevented Sansata job losses
August 10th. The Guardian runs a story about Sensata from the workers point of view.
August 17th. Politico runs a story about Sensata but also discusses the moral implications of Romney’s business model.
August 22nd. Sensata workers along with representative Jan Schakowksy (D-Ill., Bobby Schilling (R-Ill.) and Don Manzullo (R-Ill.) asked Sensata to stop outsourcing. Sensata declines to comment.
August 27th. Sensata workers protest at Republican National Convention. They also asked for an audience with Mr. Romney who refused to meet with them.
August 31st. The New York Post attempted to misdirect the focus of the Sensata story by pointing out that some Democratic retirement funds had invested in Bain.
September 2nd. The Washington Post reported that Mr. Romney took advantage of some complex loopholes in the tax code to give himself a $87 million dollar IRA by claiming he is a managing partner of Bain when he isn’t or is he? The Post said there were insufficient details to be certain that his tax returns fully complied with the law. He was able to buy lower somewhat riskier shares at rock bottom prices which at times gave him 445 percent returns on his investments.
The Post article quoted Michael Graetz, who served in the Treasury Department under President George H.W. Bush, who said
“massive IRAs such as Mr. Romney’s do not reflect the intent of the laws that created the accounts as a way to help working Americans reach financial security.”
Another tax expert, Democrat Edward Kleinbard of the University of Southern California was also quoted as stating that the dual shares in Bain appeared to be set up to benefit insiders and the valuation of shares purchased by Romney should have reflected the actual value of the stocks. However, Bain pointed out that when Mr. Romney ran Bain, the company earned more than a 50 percent return on investment on average each year.
Most importantly, the Post article revealed why Mr. Romney has such a low tax rate (under 15 percent). Mitt Romney negotiated a deal which allowed him to continue sharing in the profits of the company for 10 years in the same way that active managers receive compensation. These carried-interest profits would be taxed at a 15 percent rate as opposed to a 35% rate until 2009 and even received a two percent management fee. Furthermore, Romney would continue to receive benefits after ten years if his pre 2009 investments continued to make profits.
September 13th. The Obama campaign runs an ad, that Politifact states in mostly true and confirmed that Romney had not divested himself of his Chinese interests as he had claimed back in December of 2011 and was invested in several Chinese companies. The Romney campaign confirmed the story was accurate.
Bainport, a protest encampment is set up for the laid off workers.
September 21st. Trina Cuppet of the Arizona Moderate runs a detailed story about the myth of Romney as a job creator and uses a number of examples including Sansata.
September 23rd. The Romney campaign responded to the workers and stated Governor Romney has not worked at Bain Capital for over a decade, implying he could not prevent the closings. However, according to Bain, Romney could stop the plant closings. The Romney campaign also argued that the President could intervene and was shipping overseas. However, the campaign refused to cite any evidence to support their contentions and The Impartial Review News could not find any evidence to support their claims. Generally, speaking President’s can’t intervene in such situations so the statement appears to be an attempt at misdirection.
It was also learned that on Mr. Romney’s 2010 tax return it indicated that he was a managing partner of Bain. This allowed him to pay lower taxes on earnings and to benefit from the firms investments including Sensata. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported that in 2011 Mr. Romney received an addition $5.5 million in carried interest as a managing partner of Bain.
Also, the claim that the President was invested in Sensata was false. The President never invested in Sensata. As a State Senator his State Retirement Plan in 1997 had shares of Texas Instruments before Bain bought the company.
Mr. Romney made charitable donations of his Sensata profits for two years. However, The Nation pointed out these were self-charitable donations that mostly benefited Mr. Romney himself by lowering his tax rate.
The New York Daily News Republican Rep. Bobby Schilling fled protesters. A dumpster at Bainport reads, “Romney Trashes American Jobs.”
September 24th. Raw Story reported that the company was profitable in the U.S. but Bain was seeking greater profits from low paid Chinese labor.
September 27th. The Huffington Post reported that Mitt Romney benefited from the outsourcing. Mr. Romney transferred $701,703 worth of Sensata stock to the Tyler Charitable Foundation which gave him a tax deduction of between $100,000 and $250,000 and he was able to avoid paying capital gains on the stock. In 2010, Mr. Romney gained $20,000 from a similar maneuver. Mr. Romney has not taken the deductions yet but he still could after the election.
Oct. 9th. Mother Jones gives a more detailed analysis of Romney’s Chinese investments.
The Standard repeats the Romney campaign’s disproven claim that he cannot help the Sensata workers and a number of Republican blogs repeat the claim.
Oct 10th. Three protesters were arrested attempting to block Bain from moving company equipment to China.
Our Future runs a detailed article that illustrates the problem with the policies that Bain is taking advantage of. That is, these policies have allowed many U.S. jobs to be shipped to China in return for corporate profits. Furthermore, they noted that Mr. Romney has no intention of changing the playing field to increase American job retention. The story argued that Romney’s tough talk on China is misdirection that concerns another issue of China tying the value of it’s currency to the U.S. dollar.
The Institute of Global and Human Labor Rights releases a detailed report that analyzes the working conditions and wages of the Chinese workers who will replace American Sensata workers and the Human Rights Abuses relating to the Chinese workers. They refer to this as ??Bain race to the bottom in terms of Human Rights and wages for Americans and the Chinese.
The New York Times confirmed that Mr. Romney still has Chinese investments that pose security problems.
A debunked story appears on the FOX news website claiming that Obama had up to a $100,000 invested in Sensata. As noted above (see July), the President never invested Sensata.
October 11th. Salem News reports the American flag on the Sensata plant was lowered as American workers trained Chinese employees to take over their jobs.
October 13th. French Samsonite Workers laid off by Bain in 2007, visited Bainport which is a protest encampment near Sansota but still have had no luck delivering a 35,000 signature petition to Romney. Bainport also has a website that lists recent news stories about the plant closings.
Truth Out sets Twitter on fire with a detailed piece describing Mr. Romney’s problem with Sensata which is that it illustrates that he is not a job creator but someone who outsources jobs by taking advantage of loopholes in American law.
The Ed Show runs a story about the workers’ protests and Mr. Romney’s business model which led to Sensata’s closing.
The Examiner runs a piece claiming that all other news organizations have gotten the story wrong and are lying about Romney in response to an explosion of tweets about Sansata including quite a few from The Impartial Review News.
The Examiner also points out that some members of Bain Capitol are Democrats. However, the failed to note that Bain members have donated far more to the Mr. Romney campaign than the Obama campaign (see above). The story falsely claims that Mr. Romney could not stop the job losses. However, Bain has said they would if Mr. Romney asked. It also falsely insinuates that Romney didn’t profit from Sensata and doesn’t mention that he owned shares in the company or that he still owns shares in Chinese companies. The story also floats a conspiracy theory that the employees are being used by Democrats. Finally, the story inaccurately claims that Mr. Romney has a blind trust.
The Hinterland Gazette runs a story
October 14th. Politic USA revealed that Mitt Romney doesn’t have a blind trust which Mr. Romney himself has always argued is a ruse. In addition, Mr. Romney’s trust doesn’t meet the meet federal requirements for a blind trust. In fact, Mitt Romney is the trustee. It’s called a blind trust because the candidate chooses to call it so, not because it adheres to the federal rules that would qualify it as such.
Politico runs a story about how Mr. Romney dumped his stock in Sensata.
The Inquisitor predicts that the story will scandalize Romney’s campaign.
Cale Crout clearly explains how Sensata and Mitt Romney made money by betting against America
Equities runs a scathing editorial.
October 15th. The Goldie Taylor Project releases a great video that fully describes the story and describes Mr. Romney’s apparent unethical behavior.
The 47% Senior(@TylerKathy) Twitter account releases a nice collection of links to videos and other information
The Washinton Post Plumline runs a scathing editorial “Unmasking Mitt Romney as an economic sham” that describes Mitt Romney’s Sensata-like practices but doesn’t mention the company specifically.
The Martin Basher Show in a short segment on MSNBC blasted Mr. Romney’s treatment of the workers (see video in Videos Section below).
A Pulitzer Prize winning reporter releases his film about Bain’s GS Industries which in many ways is more shocking that Sensata as dying workers were left without health benefits. Romney also had more direct involvement in decisions relating to GS Industries.
The UK Progressive began running a series of editorials on Romney’s China Syndrome.
The right wing blogosphere runs a number of stories consistent with Mitt Romney’s original press release but inconsistent with the facts.
David Stockman former Reagan budget director released a new book claiming that Romney is an outsourcer and not a job creator.
The Huffington Post kept up the pressure with a story by David Johnson that is the same as the Our Future story but with a lot of updated and new links. This article is really a great resource from a reporter who has been with the story since day one.
The Journal Standard clarified that Bain in the past outsourced many HoneyWell jobs before renaming the company Sensata and reported that MSNBC’s Al Sharpton is making a visit to Bainport.
A New Theme Emerges
New stories emerge that depict the workers plight but offer few details about exactly what Mitt Romney did as described at the beginning of this story.
Raw Story runs a story about the protesting but like many other stories lets Mr. Romney off the hook by falsely claiming that he has a blind trust and that he has no influence over Bain decisions.
The Ed Show on MSNBC interviewed a laid off worker but other details about the story are missing.
The Examiner runs a new accurate story about Sensata but there’s a POP UP associated with this link. This story also points out that President Obama supports a bill that would prevent Romney and outsources from outsourcing jobs.
The Journal Standard runs a story about the protesters
October 16th. An Examiner article points out that Bain is moving "critical technology to China.
The Washington Times reports that National Republican Party largest donor is Bain Capital.
However, the article didn’t define “critical.” The article also states Chinese workers will earn about $0.99/hour.
John Nichols of The Nation writes an article about Bain’s form of capitalism. The article points out that the US has lost 5.5 million manufacturing jobs since 2000, overwhelmingly to China. The article also points out that Mr. Romney’s bus avoided Bainport.
TruthOut runs reprint of Dave Johnson’s, Campaign for America’s Future article with moving photos and also describes how Mitt Romney made his money.
The Decatur Daily runs a story.
AlterNet runs a a story pointing out that Sensata is a profitable company that has high tech jobs. This belies Mr. Romney’s claim that he outsourced jobs from people who lacked job skills.
The Pew Research Center Global releases a report of a survey of the Chinese. The report shows that the Chinese also are concerned about outsourcing. Their concerns are similar to Americans who view the corruption and wage inequalities as a problem. Of course, that’s a big problem for an allegedly Communist country where the wealth is shared.
In yet another, attempt at misdirection, Republicans accused American Sensata workers of being communists.
October 17th. The Huffington Post reports on the arrest of six Sensata protesters
October 18th. AlterNet runs a story about Romney’s use of obscure tax laws involving his Chinese investments.
October 19th. The Tuscon Citizen reports Sensata shuts down its plant in a panic over The Big Ed MSNBC news coverage.
People’s World announces Sensata former employees will star in new film about the plant closing.
The Sacremento Bee runs a story entitled USW Members to Show Solidarity with Illinois Sensata Workers Losing Their Jobs Because of Mr. Romney’s Bain Capital.
The Reporter releases a brief editorial about Sensata around the theme that Mr. Romney is not a job creator.
The Boston Herald runs a story protesters from companies affiliated with Bain Capital protested outside their corporate headquarters.
MSNBC Ed Show report.
October 20th. San Diego Free Press runs a story that notes that Mr. Romney claimed Bain outsourced failing companies. However, Sensata was making record profits. This story does a great job of tying Mr. Romney to wealth destruction by using Chinese slave labor.
AlterNet runs a a story about the Chinese workers replacing American Sensata workers. They put in 12 hours days and 84 hour work weeks for 99 cents to $1.35 per hour! This story illustrates that what is occurring in America is the same sort of Industrial revolution horror show that plagued this country a century ago. This time the American workers are not the slaves. Worse yet, they have simple become nonentities but American busnessman are still playing their role as the sweat shop bosses.
the Rockford Register Star reports on a meeting between MSNBC’s Al Sharpton from Politics Nation’s and Sensata workers.
Journal Standard has editorial that expresses a citizen’s outrage about Sensata.
The Washington Times and many other newspapers reported that a pro Obama SuperPac will run new ads attacking Bain and they may mention Sensata
October 22nd. The Ed Show runs a story with John Nichols about Bain’s outsourcing.
Bain reported they are halting operation after a fire in a Korea Sensata plant. The story is a cautionary tale about greed. They used cheap but less educated labor and their plant caught on fire. The report notes that inventory, damage and equipment charges, will cost Bain between $3 million-$5 million dollars. Workers have also noted that the quality of the product usually suffers when jobs are exported.
The Huffington Post runs a story by Leo Gerard about how Sensata type outsourcing destroys middle class.
WTDY daily radio show usually discusses Sensata.
Boston.com runs a short story about Sensata.
October 23ndBainPort announces that Sensata management has threatened to close down the plant early if the workers don’t stop [protesting
October 24nd. SF Gate finally lightly weighs in with a four paragraph Associated Press story that reports that Rev. Jesse Jackson was arrested along with other ??BainPort? protesters
The Huffington Post runs a story discussing the threatened shutdown. They cite a number of excuses by police for why the threats weren’t illegal. The reporter also acknowledged that #Sensate refused to comment on this story. Similar to most stories this story reports on the protesting without explaining what is being protested.
Our Future runs a story which states that fourteen protesters were arrested including the Rev. Jesse Jackson and that earlier today Sensata workers filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board(NLRB: see above).
The Daily KOS reported that another major Romney investments, Delphi Auto, has bought factories in China after firing 25,000 US workers. The move cost workers over $1 billion in pension money. Delphi is the same the company that made Mr. Romney millions from the auto bailout. Mr. Romney has refused to release his 2009 tax returns which would show how much money he made from the off-shoring. It is only know at the present that he made between $3 and $100 million from the investment. However, Romney did report that he invested a large portion of his wealth in the company to the figure may be closer to $100 million.
OurFuture gives a similar report.
October 26nd. Workers Stage Walkout at Sensata.
OurFuture gives a similar report.
October 27nd. The Guardian writes a brief story about Sensata. The story reports that an 86 year old protester was arrested for the first time in his life. So far twenty people have been arrested including Rev. Jesse Jackson. This story reports on the complaints sent to the National Labor Relations Board about threats made to close the plant early if the protests continue.
Priorities USA Video **** (New!: see above, Doesn’t mention Sensata but does a good job of capturing theme in 30 second commerical)
AFL-CIO Ad * only 30 seconds (New!)
Bain Workers talk About Off Shoring **** (New!)
Behind the Back Video by Bain Workers **** (New!)
Bainport Videos ****
The War Room on Current TV: Sensata Technologies and the Price of Outsourcing American Jobs
Sensata plant closing from October 10th. Democracy Now! gives the story full coverage.
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