Workers from Sensata Technologies in Freeport protested Monday outside U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling's office in Moline as part of the "stop the Romney economy" bus tour.
Sensata, which manufactures electronic automotive sensors, is outsourcing 170 jobs from the Freeport plant to China. Sensata is owned Bain Capital, the private equity firm co-founded by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and Sensata workers are appealing to him to intervene to save their jobs.
One of Monday's protestors was Tom Gaulrapp who said he has worked for Sensata for 33 years but will lose his job Nov. 6. On that day, he plans to sign up for unemployment for the first time in his life, and then vote against Mr. Romney and Rep. Schilling, R-Colona.
Another Sensata employee, Tom Schreck, said Sensata was profitable last year, which made the decision to shutter the Freeport plant harder to swallow.
"We were very profitable last year but for some reason they need to pay someone less to do our jobs," Mr. Schreck said. "It's just greed."
The plight of the Sensata workers has brought the national debate over Mr. Romney and his time with Bain Capital to the redistricted 17th District, which includes Freeport. Mr. Gaulrapp and Mr. Schreck both said they were disappointed by Rep. Schilling's opposition to the Bring American Jobs Home Act blocked earlier this year by Republicans in the Senate.
Schilling spokesman Jon Schweppe said the bill's title was misleading. Taxing companies that outsource jobs would not encourage them to stop doing so, he said.
"If we put a tax on our job-creators it's just going to encourage them to send more jobs overseas," Mr. Schweppe said.
East Moline Democrat Cheri Bustos, Rep. Schilling's opponent, supports the Bring American Jobs Home Act and has thrown her support behind the Sensata workers.
Mr. Romney had left Bain Capital by the time the firm took majority control of Sensata in 2006. But recently released documents show he retained an investment in the company through a blind trust, meaning he could profit by the outsourcing of the Freeport jobs.
A Romney spokeswoman said President Barack Obama also stood to indirectly profit through Sensata's cutting of local jobs because his Illinois state pension plan invested in Sensata this year.
President Obama, a former Illinois state senator,. had between $50,000 and $100,000 invested in The Illinois General Assembly Defined Pension Benefit Plan, according to his 2011 personal financial disclosure. The retirement plan invested in Sensata in the first quarter of 2012, according to public records.
Mr. Gaulrapp said there was a difference between the two investments. President Obama's savings were similar to many ordinary Americans with retirement funds who can't control where their money goes, he said.
"Somebody like Mitt Romney, he's the largest shareholder in Bain. He can pick and choose. He's got that ability," Mr. Gaulrapp said.
Today is Tuesday, June 18, the 169th day of 2013. There are 196 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: Fanatics have grown wonderfully civil since the president snubbedthem by revoking Burnside's infamous attack upon the freedom of the press. 1888 -- 125 years ago: The Interstate baseball league has collapsed, leaving Davenport'sleading team without a league connection. 1913 -- 100 years ago: Passengers were stunned yesterday when lightning struck a LongView street car at 9th Ave. and 25th St. 1938 -- 75 years ago: X-ray examinations today traced the trouble with Dizzy Dean's$250,000 pitching arm to a pulled muscle back of his right shoulder blade. 1963 -- 50 years ago: Radio station WQAD in Moline is being considered by the NationalCivil Defense Office for selection as a "secured communication center" Mrs. Gault,executive deputy director of the Moline Civil Defense unit reported today. 1988 -- 25 years ago: "Marketplace 29 A.D." an unusual vacation Bible school programthat will allow children to live three days as people did during the Bible Times June 21-23. The three day program, is a joint project of Aldersgate and Bethel-Wesley UnitedMethodist churches.