It's an all-too-common story in America: A private-equity firm snaps up a manufacturing company and shutters factories, sheds U.S. workers and ships jobs to China -- leaving shattered communities in its wake.
But this time, the story has a twist.
Sensata Technologies Inc., an Attleboro, Mass.-based automotive-sensor manufacturer owned by Bain Capital LLC since 2006, plans to close its factory in Freeport, Ill., and move production to China in November.
But the 170 workers at the plant aren't losing their jobs without a fight.
Although presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has emphasized that he has not had a management role at Bain Capital since 1999, the workers are pleading with Romney to intervene and persuade Bain to keep the jobs in Freeport.
"They realize this is an election year," Freeport Mayor George Gaulrapp said in an interview with IndustryWeek. "They realize that Gov. Romney was associated with Bain, that he was their sole stockholder [until] 1999 and ran the company. So they know there's an opportunity to get some attention."
So far, it's working. On Tuesday night, Freeport Community Development Director Shelly Griswold and Sensata employee Dot Turner pleaded their case on MSNBC's "The Ed Show." Two hours later, Gaulrapp, Sensata worker Cheryl Randecker and Freeport City Council Alderman Shawn Boldt appeared on MSNBC's "The Last Word."
Earlier in the week, Freeport City Council unanimously passed a resolution drafted by the workers that "calls on Mitt Romney to come to Freeport to meet the people directly affected by Bain Capital's outsourcing and to step in and stop the outsourcing of these jobs from Freeport to China."
However, Gaulrapp said the resolution is about more than just saving jobs in Freeport.
"They also want to protect other employees throughout Freeport, northwest Illinois and our nation," Gaulrapp told IndustryWeek. "They want employers, the boards and the shareholders to [think about the impact on communities] next time they're sending jobs overseas."