FREEPORT (WIFR) -- Today at Freeport’s Sensata Technologies plant, civil rights leader, Reverend Jesse Jackson returned to rally with with soon-to-be out of work employees.
Jackson spent most of the afternoon in "Bainport”, the make-shift campsite that's been home to Sensata employees and their supporters for the last 40 days. Things took a turn around 4:00 p.m. when Jackson and about a dozen workers decided to march onto company property, before being arrested by police.
You may remember the plant is scheduled to close the day before the election, because around 170 jobs are being relocated to China. Today, Jackson said workers were humiliated because they've had to rain their Chinese replacements. He says he hopes his arrest will get Sensata management to the negotiating table. He hoped to convince them to keep the plant open.
“When these workers lose their jobs, they lose their homes, they lose their cars. 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,” said Jackson.
Freeport Mayor, George Gaulrapp, says he talked to Sensata management yesterday and they threatened to close the plant early if anyone entered the building today. As far as we know, that didn't happen. A caravan of about 50 former workers and supporters headed to the fire department where the people who were arrested are to be released.
Gaulrapp says the owner of California company, Turbo Coil, saw coverage of Sensata on TV last week and called him to discuss bringing his business to town. Gaulrapp says the business could open up in the empty Sensata factory, but is also looking at other buildings as well.
UPDATE: Reverend Jesse Jackson has been arrested for protesting at the Sensata plant. We'll bring you the latest on the 23 News at 5.
Jackson has spent most of the afternoon in "Bainport”, the make-shift campsite that's been home to Sensata employees and their supporters for the last 40 days.
Nearly a dozen protestors, including Jackson, are expected to engage in civil disobedience around 4:00 p.m. today, if they are unable to meet with the manager of the plant.
Protestors have been warned by Sensata management that they will be arrested if they step onto company property.
Freeport’s Mayor, George Gaulrapp also said that if protestors step into the building where Sensata and Honeywell employees are working, the plant will shut down immediately. If this happens, employees of the plant will still be paid for two months, but will not be paid overtime.
The mayor also told us the Stephenson County Jail has been prepared in the event of arrests.