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Sensata workers file complaints with NLRB

Oct. 24, 2012 at 6:49 PM   |   Comments

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FREEPORT, Ill., Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Workers at a Bain Capital-owned factory filed unfair labor practices complaints after the company threatened a shutdown amid protests for sending jobs to China.

Hours after the filing, the Rev. Jesse Jackson was arrested after marching on company property with several Sensata workers, WIFR-TV, Rockford, Ill., reported.

Sensata Technologies Inc. in Freeport, Ill., had already announced plans to lay off workers in November and close the factory in December, but indicated Tuesday it would shut down ahead of schedule if workers persisted in their protest, The (Freeport) Rock River Times reported Wednesday.

Sensata manufactures sensors and controls for automotive, appliance, aircraft and other manufacturing sectors. Plans call for sending 170 jobs and equipment to a new plant in China, the newspaper said.

The company asked Freeport police Tuesday to notify employees the factory would be shut down earlier if protests continue, the report said.

Joanne Penniston, a Sensata employee, said the company was "trying to take away our rights as American workers" with the threat to shut the factory early.

"When these workers lose their jobs, they lose their homes, they lose their cars," Jackson said before his arrest. "Their kids cannot stay in school, they lose their hope. We are fighting for the integrity of the American worker, we're fighting for an even playing field."

Police had previously reported nine arrests during protests at the plant.

One of the complaints filed Wednesday with the National Labor Relations Board accuses the company of "increasing security and announcing a new policy, or a previously unenforced policy, prohibiting off-duty employees from entering work areas at non-work times, in response to and in retaliation for employees engaging in protected concerted activity," the newspaper reported. The second charge challenged the propriety of threatening a shutdown.

Sensata employees say Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney stands to profit from outsourcing the company's jobs to China, and derived a tax benefit by moving his stock in the company to a charity organization he controls, the newspaper reported.

Workers at the plant have been training Chinese replacements, who the company has flown to Freeport, the report said.

Freeport Mayor George Gaulrapp said the owner of Turbo Coil -- a Pasadena, Calif., company that manufactures evaporator coils for commercial refrigeration customers -- called him to discuss relocating the company in Freeport after seeing news coverage of Sensata, WIFR-TV reported.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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