I was a steel worker for 30 years. When I
first started working, I looked around, we had 5500 employees, it was like a city inside
of a city. Steel would always be needed in the United
States, so it sounded like a guaranteed job. We were much more than just coworkers, we
became very good friends. We made parts for auto motives, we made parts
for nuclear plants, we made gel bars. We had a reputation for quality products.
It was something that was American-made, and we weren’t rich, but I was able to put my
daughter through college. Having a good, paying job that you can support
and raise your family on is hugely important. That stopped with the sale of the plant to
Bain Capital. Bain Capital was the majority owner. They
hired the management, they picked the board of directors, they were responsible. Mitt
Romney was deeply involved in the influence that he exercised over these companies. It was like going to war every single day.
They were starting to try to figure out ways to eliminate jobs, and so everyone had to
pick up the slack. We started having quality issues at that plant. They weren’t concerned about your health.
It was like working in the sweat shops of the ’30s. Private equity is not, per say, bad, but what
Bain Capital did was not capitalism, it was bad management. The decision makers were governed
by a different set of rules than the rest of us played by. Bain Capital was sucking money out of the
company like there was no tomorrow. The business model of loading a company up with debt, in
order to extract immediate profits for yourself out of it, and ensuring the failure of the
company later on, seemed like exactly the wrong thing that we needed in America today. They
issued $125 million of bonds, and out of that $125 million debt, they paid themselves almost
$40 million. It was like a vampire. They came in and sucked
the life out of us. They made as much money off of it as they
could, and then they closed it down, they filed for bankruptcy without any concern for
the families or the communities. Bain Capital went to the bankruptcy court
and sought elimination of the pension plan and termination of employee and retiree life
insurance and health insurance. And having to be the one that told them that
they were not going to get health insurance any more, telling them that their pensions
were going to be reduced by 50 and 60 percent in many cases, those are among some of the
most painful experiences of my life. Standing in front of hundreds of people in their fifties,
sixties, and many of the retired steelworkers came to those meetings, so there were people
in their seventies and eighties as well. I personally saw the last heat of steel go
through the furnaces. It was like watching an old friend, watching an old friend bleed
to death. This is what’s left of the plant. No rod mill,
no melt shop, not much of anything. They came in, they destroyed. You know, you look at this and you just feel
amazed that there’s nothing, that the steel business isn’t here anymore. I went out every day for six months and I
looked for a job. I had a friend that hired custodians, and so I got a job through him
with the school district, at considerably less money, probably one-third what I was
making at the steel mill. We lost all of our health insurance.
I was devastated. When you take away all the good paying jobs,
such as we had here at GST Steel in Kansas City, the middle class is going to become
extinct. It makes me angry. Those guys were all rich.
They all had more money than they’ll ever spend, they have more money than their families
will ever spend, yet they didn’t have the money to take care of the very people that
made the money for them. Bain Capital walked away with a lot of money
that they made off of this plant, because they took all of the money. We view Mitt Romney
as a job destroyer. To get up on national TV and brag about making
jobs when he has destroyed thousands of people’s careers, lifetimes, just destroying people. When it is a business model, and when it is
deliberate, and when it is a thought-out strategy on how to take the value out of a company
in a reckless way and hurt others, you then become a proponent of that strategy, and talk
about it as if it’s the soul of capitalism, and literally the soul of America, I think
nothing could be more offensive. He’s running for president, and if he’s going
to run the country the way he ran our business I wouldn’t want him there, because he would
be so out of touch with the average person in this country. How could you care? How could
you care for the average working person if you feel that way?