Inside Bain's Chinese Sensata Factories, Where Workers Put in 12-Hour Days for $.99-$1.35 an Hour

Mitt romney has made Obama's out-of-context “you didn't build that” quote a central theme of his campaign. It's ironic, as Mitt Romney is going to profit just before the election when Bain-owned Sensata Technologies moves 170 high-tech jobs from Freeport, Illinois, to a plant in China built for the firm by the Chinese government.


Sensata enjoyed record revenues last year – this isn't about making the “hard choices” necessary to save a failing enterprise. The workers in Freeport have been working 24 hours a day, in three shifts. They make $14-17 per hour, with benefits.

According to a report by the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, one of Bain's first actions after buying Sensata was to set up “12 Sensata/Bain capital funds 'organized under the laws of the Cayman Islands' so as to avoid paying taxes.” They'll get a small tax break for relocating the plant – the one Mitt Romney insisted did not exist during the first debate – and then use those offshore funds to defer taxes on some of the income the company generates.

American tax-payers, on the other hand, have paid $780,000 to retrain some of Sensata's laid off workers in Illinois, according to the New York Times. One would be hard pressed to come up with a clearer example of capturing private gains while socializing the costs.

Mitt Romney is not directly involved in Bain Capital, but he did build its business model. In 1998, when he was actively running Bain, he personally visited the Global-Tech Appliances plant in Dongguan, China. He witnessed, personally, the horrific conditions the plant's workers were toiling in for .24 cents an hour, and didn't hesitate to invest millions in the firm.

We've heard a lot about the workers in Freeport. But on this week's AlterNet Radio Hour, I spoke with Charles Kernaghan, director of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, about what life is like for the Chinese workers in Sensata's existing Chinese plants. The podcast below is about 20 minutes long – give it a listen.


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