Rev. Jesse Jackson and 13 other employees of Sensata Technologies in Freeport, Maine were arrested Wednesday evening after stepping onto company property, in an act of civil disobedience Jackson said he hopes will get Bain Capital, the private equity firm founded by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, to rethink its campaign of "economic terrorism" against American workers.
About 170 workers at the auto parts maker are slated to lose their jobs one day before the election, outsourced to Chinese labor. Workers camped near their soon-to-be former jobsite for weeks in protest, demanding that Romney do or say something to stop his former company from putting them all out. Though Romney founded Bain and still holds millions in the company's stock, the company claims he left in 1999, although the firm's Securities and Exchange Commission filings identified him as CEO until 2002.
Jackson's arrest Wednesday is just one of many for the protesters, who've committed to regular acts of civil disobedience. Six people were arrested a week prior for trespassing after they went to their former worksite to request severance pay. Three more were arrested the week before that, sitting in a driveway and blocking a shipping truck's exit.
The civil rights leader first appeared at the protest site, which has become known as "Bainport," on Monday, telling workers that Bain's strategies represent new world corporate trade policies. "We must draw the line here in Freeport," he said, according to The Rockford Register Star. "The Chinese are not taking jobs from us. We are taking jobs to them. We all look the same in the dark. It’s time to turn the lights on."
Speaking to workers on Wednesday, Jackson was even more fired up about the situation. "Now, you’re looking at an economic terrorism,” he said, according to The Journal Standard.
"If you use your most basic right, your right to fight back, if you use that right, they'll threaten to fire you," he continued. "How do you fire someone from a plant that's closing? The plant has taken jobs away to China. They expect on November 5th, the day before the election, to close the plant. You vote in a democracy to be protected from terrorism."
This video is from CBS affiliate WIFR News 23 in Illinois, published October 24, 2012.
Photo: Courtesy, Rev. Jesse Jackson on Twitter.