Soon-to-be former employees of a Bain Capital-owned factory in Freeport, Ill., have resigned themselves to the fact that their jobs are headed to China. But they're hopeful that their efforts to grab the attention of Bain co-founder Mitt Romney -- and the nation -- won't be in vain.

For more than a month, workers have been occupying a tent city at the Stephenson County Fairgrounds, just across the street from their former employer: Sensata Technologies Inc., which is in the process of shuttering the Freeport plant and moving production to China.

Sensata is an Attleboro, Mass.-based automotive-sensor manufacturer owned by Bain Capital LLC since 2006.

Since this summer, workers and city officials have been pleading with Romney -- who left Bain in February 1999 -- to persuade Bain to keep their jobs in Freeport, appearing on cable talk shows and capturing national media attention in the process.

Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin are among those who have visited the "Bainport" camp to offer their support. Earlier this week, Jackson led Bainport protesters into the Sensata plant lobby, where he tried -- unsuccessfully -- to gain entry and ask plant management to give the workers their full severance pay.  

Still, with dozens of the plant's 170 workers already shown the door, automated equipment operator Tom Gaulrapp said he holds no illusions.

"In a perfect world, we would save our jobs," said Gaulrapp, who has worked at the plant for 33 years. "But we understand that at this point -- short of a miracle -- we're not going to be able to."

However, Gaulrapp, whose last day is Nov. 5, sees a larger purpose for the protest effort.

"If some company somewhere decides that they want to [offshore], and they look at all the attention that we've gotten here, and they decide that they don't want their company's name to be known as an outsourcer like Sensata Technologies is right now, maybe they'll decide that that's not something they absolutely need to do," Gaulrapp told IndustryWeek. "And maybe we'll save some jobs for somebody someplace.

"If that happens, this whole thing has been worth it."