A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history. -Mahatma Gandhi
Never underestimate the power of the truth to change the best laid plans. When Honeywell workers were called into management offices in 2010, they were divided into 2 groups: a group that was staying at Honeywell and a group whose jobs were to be turned over to Sensata Technologies. Workers were also informed of changes to their severance packages should they lose their jobs. A very generous severance package based on total years of service was exchanged for a 26 week maximum payout. The new Sensata workers did not know why they were chosen to go to Sensata while their co-workers remained at Honeywell. They also did not realize that less than 2 years later, they would be out of a job. Sensata Technologies, owned by Bain Capital, is closing its Freeport plant November 5, and moving all operations and the entire manufacturing line to China.
Welcome to Bainport, the encampment set up across the road from Sensata’s Freeport plant, where for over 50 days, workers have been organizing community events, rallies and civil disobedience actions to call attention to their uncertain future and bring the Sensata story into the national spotlight in a very important election year. An invitation to Gov. Mitt Romney to visit workers and explain how Bain Capital outsourced their jobs to China went unanswered. National labor, religious and civic leaders visit the site, rally the workers, and spread the word. Several instances of civil disobedience resulted in multiple arrests.
Vultures descended on Bainport for Halloween 2012, highlighting the vulture capitalism responsible for Sensata’s departure from Freeport. Overpass Light Brigade illuminated the procession of masked vultures and large puppets with “VULTURE IN CHIEF” over to the Sensata plant in defiance of management’s orders that workers not be on the property outside of their assigned shifts.
An evening rally featured Leo Gerard, President of the United Steel Workers, who hailed the Sensata workers as heroes. “You’re America’s heroes. There have been far too many of these plants that have been closed and moved, there have been far too many people that have had their jobs and their lives destroyed by vulture capitalists. What you’re doing, the courage you’ve shown, the message you’ve sent, has hopefully given a wake up call to the rest of America.”
The future of Bainport is uncertain, as the lease expires on November 3. The Sensata plant is set to close November 5, with all operations finished and moved by mid December. Whatever the individual outcomes, Bainport has created a new community in an old neighborhood, forever changing the lives in its path.
Unless otherwise noted, all images are Copyright Leslie Amsterdam 2012 All rights reserved.
Watch Leo Gerard address Sensata workers on Halloween:
The Reverend Jesse Jackson and 13 others arrested for criminal trespass for demanding fair labor practices at the Sensata plant: ?set=a.515493395146865.132084.100000586282166&type=1&l=9a6603c88a
The Reverend Al Sharpton in Bainport: https://wcmcoop.com/2012/10/22/we-are-all-bainport/
Bainport, Illinois by Wendi Kent: https://wcmcoop.com/2012/10/01/what-romney-left-behind/