Bain Closes U.S. Plant, Forces Workers to Train Chinese Replacements

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Bain Capital
Throughout this presidential election cycle, we've heard attacks on the business practices of Bain Capital, the private equity firm co-founded by Mitt Romney in 1984. Most recently, a political action committee that supports the re-election of President Obama released an ad featuring Joe Soptic, a former steelworker who lost his job, and hence health insurance for himself and his family, after the closing of the Bain-owned plant where he worked. Soptic's wife subsequently died of cancer; in the ad, he blames Bain and Romney for the fact that she didn't get care in time to detect and treat her disease.

"I don't know how long she was sick," Soptic says, "and I think maybe she didn't say anything because she knew that we couldn't afford the insurance."



The ad's veracity has been questioned (and defended), but evidence of Bain's deleterious impact on workers continues to surface.

In the most recent news in that vein, The Guardian reports that Bain has for months been dismantling and shipping to China, "piece by piece," a car parts plant, of which it is majority owner, in Freeport, Ill. -- even as it requires the workers to train personally their Chinese replacements, who have been flown in by management.

"It's not easy to get up in the morning, training them to do your job so that you can be made unemployed," Bonnie Borman told the paper. Borman, 52, has worked at the Sensata auto sensors plant for 23 years. She has three children and predicts that soon, "I am going to be competing for minimum wage jobs with my own daughter."

Although Romney left Bain around the turn of the century -- pinpointing the exact year is difficult, which has itself become a source of controversy -- he maintains financial ties to the company, receiving millions of dollars annually in profits from buyout and investment funds. Which means that Romney stands to gain if Bain's plan to cut costs at Sensata by eliminating U.S. jobs succeeds in increasing profitability.

Needless to say, such an arrangement strikes the company's current employees as deeply unjust. "I understand business needs to make a profit," Tom Gualrapp told The Guardian. "But this product has always made a ton of money. it's just that they think it is not enough money. They are greedy." Gaulrapp, 54, is a 33 year veteran of the plant, and says that homelessness "is a real possibility" in his near future.

John Hancock Tower, Bain Capital LLC's headquarters, Boston, Massachusetts. (Brent Lewin, Bloomberg)

Bain has already quadrupled its initial 2006 investment in Sensata, The Guardian says. The closing of the Freeport plant will cost the city 170 well-paying jobs, further damaging an already enfeebled economy. The process of transferring the machinery to China will be complete by the end of the year.

Still, the workers are keeping up the fight to save their livelihoods. Having already hand-delivered a letter asking for Romney's support to campaign headquarters in Madison, Wis., they're now planning to protest at the Republican National Convention, to be held in Tampa, Fla., at the end of the month.

Attacks on Bain Capital have been controversial: Democrats including Newark Mayor Corey Booker, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, and former President Bill Clinton have expressed their discomfort with the way the Obama campaign has impugned the morality of the private equity business.

But the critiques are starting to gather momentum as the human toll of Bain's business practices becomes increasingly obvious: Writing about the deal that left Joe Soptic embittered and bereft, Bloomberg's William D. Cohan (no socialist; a former investment banker, in fact) asks, "Is there any fairness in a system where a group of people can borrow a bunch of money to buy a company and pay themselves millions of dollars in dividends and fees, while the company itself ends up bankrupt and its employees lose their jobs, health insurance and pensions?"

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Downing Gary

IF I WORKED IN THAT PLANT I WOULD TELL THEM TO STICK IT IN THEIR ASS .. AND WALK OUT. I REALIZE ITS HARD TO FIND JOBS IN AMERICA ANY MORE BECAUSE OF PEOPLE LIKE ROMNEY BUT WE CANNOT TRAIN ANOTHER NATION TO DO OUR WORK..
PEOPLE NEED TO WAKE UP BEFORE ITS TO LATE....ROMNEY IS NOT FOR AMERICA... HE HAS CLOSED OVER A DOZEN COMPANIES LIKE THIS ONE AND PUT OVER 115,000 HARD WORKING AMERICANS OUT OF WORK.
WHERE DOES IT END ???

ROMNEY INVESTS IN CHINA...NOT THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

October 13 2012 at 5:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cecil Nixxon

Why haven't we heard of violence against the foreign workers being trained? This isn't the first time this has happened. It happens all the time. How red-blooded Americans can kow-tow to a company that is axing them and actually be made to train their foreign replacements, on American soil, without breaking into violence or ambushing them, is rather remarkable to me. It tells me Americans have given up. Kissing butt for a paycheck is one thing; kissing butt for being dumped is another. Bain is bad, but they're just the tip of the iceberg.

Train them. Teach them an unforgettable lesson.

August 24 2012 at 12:33 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Cecil Nixxon's comment
Stephen Johnson

My brother in law lost his job with Bausch And Lomb when the move from NY State near Buffalo to India. He was offered another 3 months work if he went to India to train the very people that took his job. What could he do? Three months more pay plus a bit extra for traveling. It sucked but he took it? I don't know. But I do know that the American worker better gets some backbone, or we all will be making the same as those in other third world counties that were given our jobs. Voting for the very kind of guy that will sell out his own countrymen for a buck. Is not the answer to me.

August 24 2012 at 7:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael

Because its not true

September 13 2012 at 2:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Philosopher Jay

Making up lies about Harry Reid does not help erase the horrible things Romney and Bain Capitlal has done to millions of workers. It just exposes you as a horrible person.

August 24 2012 at 12:05 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Philosopher Jay's comment
Ron

"millions of workers".........

Exaggerate a bit much Philosopher?

August 24 2012 at 12:25 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Michael

What about Solendra

September 13 2012 at 2:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kaehu

Why don't you do some investigation about how Harry Reid has facilitated outsourcing the American garment industry to the Philippines. You might find it eye-opening what your own party is doing while spreading crap about Romney.

August 24 2012 at 1:38 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Kaehu

I understand they also roast babies on barbecue sticks.

August 24 2012 at 1:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hbruno

Bain will be Romney's bane

August 23 2012 at 7:36 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
nithk134

This ad was Proved a LIE after LIE ! and this guy is nothing but a LYIN POS !

August 23 2012 at 6:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Zappy

Yea right they were forced to train chinese workers. You got paid to do it!! You could have quit if you had any value in the job market, but I doubt that he did cause the union protected him and insulated him from the global market that the management is not insulated from. If this plant could have made money, it would have. Don't blame Romney on over paid labor.

August 23 2012 at 4:05 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Zappy's comment
Philosopher Jay

Yes, we should blame the capitalist system which allows Romney to make millions exploiting and murdering workers. We should eliminate capitalist vulture companies like Bane and make sure all workers get the money they deserve for their work.

August 24 2012 at 12:07 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Philosopher Jay's comment
Michael

Why dont you move to russia if you like socialism so much

September 13 2012 at 2:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
leffbehind

If you don't like the way Bain does business, open your own business. Let's see how concerned you are for everyone else in the world when you can make more money doing something that is perfectly legal. If you work for another company and it goes belly-up, don't complain. Start your own business people can't take away from you. If you start a company, you will quickly come to realize that your employees are lazy good-for-nothings who will only do as much as they can to not get fired, and will complain about you night and say, and never understand how hard you work so they can put bread on their table. What a bunch of jackalopes.

August 23 2012 at 2:58 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to leffbehind's comment
hardwknmn

Look , both candidates are very bad. Bain is romneys crutch and obamas is the pacific deal where obama secretly is trying to make a deal the will make this bain thing look like a baby. The asian countries can move their businees and not have to work under american laws they will be exempt.

August 23 2012 at 2:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply