California-based company Turbo Coil might just swoop in and save the day for some of the 170 Sensata workers facing unemployment when their Freeport, Ill. plant closes in December. The refrigerator coil manufacturer is considering opening a new plant in Freeport that would hire former Sensata workers.
Employees at the Sensata factory, which is owned by Bain Capital, are currently training their Chinese replacements at the company’s behest. Many have also been picketing and demonstrating to protest the layoffs.Sensata workers have called repeatedly for former Bain CEO and current presidential candidate Mitt Romney to help them, but to no avail—Romney has refused to meet. The workers even set up a protest camp, aptly named Bainport, in the county fairgrounds across the street from Sensata. Last week the company threatened to shut down early if workers did not cease their rallying. In response 14 protesters, including allies such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson, marched from Bainport to the plant and were arrested (and later released.)The national attention garnered by the protests is starting to pay off. On Thursday, representatives from California company Turbo Coil took a tour of Freeport to look at possible facilities for a new plant.The company’s CEO indicated that his interest in the Sensata-outsourcing situation was sparked when he saw coverage of the workers’ protests on MSNBC. He had been planning to build a new factory in Las Vegas, but began thinking about changing the location to Freeport. Turbo Coil would initially hire 25 employees, giving first consideration to former Sensata workers, and eventually bring on as many as 100 workers. All of Turbo Coil’s parts are made in America.