FREEPORT (WIFR) – Outsourcing at the former Sensata plant left one Freeport man without a job, but that didn’t stop him from making friends with the Chinese worker who took over his position.
When Keith Bardell lost his job at the Sensata Plant in Freeport in 2012, he never expected to gain a new Chinese pen pal. Bardell and other workers had to train their Chinese replacements when the company decided to send 170 jobs overseas, leading to an unexpected friendship.
“Being around them, you know we realized, there wasn’t any reason to be unfriendly to them, because it really wasn’t their fault they were taking our jobs.”
The Sensata workers even took their Chinese visitors on sightseeing trips to CherryVale Mall, Famous Dave’s restaurant, and even some of the local parks.
“I said, when I take my dog this weekend, I will take you to the parks and I took him to all the different parks in the area and he was amazed we didn’t have to pay to go into the parks,” Bardell said.
Bardell says they email back and forth every few months and two weeks ago, his pen pal sent some bad news – he had lost his job at Sensata.
“Welcome to the club. You start getting a regular paycheck and have expectations and all of a sudden, the job isn’t there.”
Bardell says he is sorry is friend is out of work, a situation Bardell knows about all too well. He wraps up his Bachelor’s Degree this summer and is hoping to become a psychologist.
A representative from Sensata say the Chinese workers have not been laid off and that the company continues to build its sensor business in China.