By Cheri Bustos
Employees at Sensata Technologies in Freeport, Ill., worked hard and played by the rules, but still lost.
Dot Turner, 61, began working at Sensata Technologies at the age of 18. Today, 43 years later, the job she has committed her life to is about ready to be shipped off to China. After working hard every day of her career, she worries about finding a new job. She's never been on unemployment. She sure never thought she'd have to be looking for work in the sixth decade of her life.
Cheryl Randecker, a 33-year Sensata employee, has already lost her job once to China. At the end of this year, she'll lose it again, but not before she has the privilege of training her Chinese replacement. Cheryl's daughter, who was away at college, now must shift her life plan and move home to Freeport, because of the pending job loss.
Mark Schreck is a single father of three daughters. After eight years at Sensata, he not only will lose his job to China, he'll lose the health insurance his young girls need. He gets emotional thinking about it.
Sensata Technologies is owned by the now famous private equity investment firm Bain Capital. Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney tries to sidestep the outsourcing that he and his friends are responsible for, but it's real. And it's devastating the lives of 170 families in Illinois' 17th Congressional District.
Corporations and investment firms aren't the only ones to blame for shipping our good-paying jobs overseas. Our Congress has supported this destruction of our middle class by giving away our tax dollars to do it.
Why is it that "our representatives" don't care enough or simply don't have heart enough to represent hard-working middle-class families like Dot's, Cheryl's and Mark's? How is it that "our leaders" continue to tolerate skewed and perverse federal tax laws that prioritize profits over people?
It is because of these families that I am running for Congress in Illinois' 17th District, which includes Freeport. The seat is now held by Republican Congressman Bobby Schilling who, like many of his colleagues, has consistently supported tax incentives for companies that ship American jobs overseas. And when these workers asked him for help, he simply sent a letter to Sensata's CEO that was quickly disregarded.
I've watched Congressman Schilling as he and his obstructionist friends in Washington have put partisanship over performance, gridlock over getting things done. The result is companies like Sensata putting their own narrow interests over those of our country.
We need a strong manufacturing base, because our economy needs to make things. It's what we do best. And where better than right here in Illinois, where our workers possess an unmatched Midwestern work ethic?
We can chide companies like Bain for each heartless decision to outsource, but let us not forget who's responsible for making that option a good business move.
Leaders in Congress who profess a commitment to creating good-paying jobs, should also stand up to keep the ones we already have and fight to get the those lost back on American soil. It's not rocket science, we don't need to deliberate on the topic, we already know what needs to be done. We just need leaders with courage.
Dot, Cheryl, Mark and their nearly 170 co-workers and their families whose jobs are being shipped to China deserve to have their representative in Congress fight for them, not just for big corporations like Bain Capital-run Sensata. They deserve that and nothing less.