Campaign Coverage

Below are excerpts from news articles highlighting the Stop Biotech Looting Campaign.

Work with labor unions, says Gov. Deval Patrick
Wants biotech to hire workers

By Christine McConville
Boston Herald / Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Gov. Deval Patrick yesterday called on the state's biotechnology industry leaders to work with labor unions on expansion projects.

"I ask you as a partner, a friend and as your governor, give unions a fair shake," Patrick urged a roomful of life science executives at the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council's annual meeting at the Seaport World Trade Center.

"There are good capable members of the building trades out there looking for work," he said, after detailing ways the state has helped the biotech business. "Work with me and each other."

Patrick's comments came months after the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103 launched a colorful campaign to highlight what it claims are biotech's anti-union ways.

The "Stop Biotech Looting" campaign centers on Patrick's $1 billion life science initiative. The law, signed last summer, calls for allocating taxpayer funds to the biotech industry over the next decade.

Supporters say it is a necessary investment in what is expected to be Massachusetts' industry of the future.

Union leaders say there are more worthy recipients of public money. And, they say, the companies that benefit, directly or indirectly, from these funds tend to hire out-of-state, lower-cost workers to build their expanding facilities.

"I'm happy to see the governor urging these employers to do the right thing and hire local people who have proper training," said Massachusetts Building Trade Council President Frank Callahan. "This has to be economic development for everybody, not just a few corporations."

Robert Coughlin, the biotech council's president, said after Patrick's speech that his group was supportive of the governor's request.

Sen. Anthony Galluccio, whose Cambridge-based district houses biotechnology companies and union members, said he was pleased.

"It's important, especially because there's public money being spent on these businesses," he said, adding "unions will be willing to negotiate with these private firms."

There's a misconception that trade unions aren't willing to aggressively price their products, he said.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick
(Photo by Patrick Whittemore)

Patrick sides with unions in biotech spat

by Julie Donnelly
Boston Business Journal / Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Deval Patrick surprised both his aides and Massachusetts Biotechnology Council staff Tuesday when he strode in to the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council's annual meeting to give his keynote address flanked by a dozen union brass who have had nothing but vitriol for the industry in recent months.

After a gracious introduction, lauding the Governor as the best friend any state's biotech industry could have, Patrick said:

"One in five unemployed people in this state work in construction. These people do not feel they've been given a fair shake by this industry, and that has to change...I could not tell you who to hire for which jobs at which building projects, but I would ask you, as your friend, your partner and your governor, to give them a fair shake."…

Frank Callahan from the Building Trades Council said, "We have been working with the governor since his campaign and he has always believed that economic development was supposed to be for everyone, working people included." The unions object to the use of non-union workers, many from out of state, at several of the large building sites and say plumbers, electricians and pipefitters have been particularly hard hit…

Unions claim governor will take their side in biotech battle

By Christine McConville
Boston Herald / Tuesday, April 14, 2009

In what's being interpreted as a win for unions, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is expected to take labor's side when he addresses members of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council later today.

Union leaders say Patrick today asked the leaders of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103 and the Massachusetts Building Trades Council to join him this afternoon at the council's annual meeting…

Until today, the governor has remained silent of the dispute.

Ray Rogers, who runs the union-based campaign, said Patrick reached out to labor bosses earlier today.

Rogers said the unions have asked Patrick to call on these companies to employ contractors that hire union electricians and other local workers, and to seriously consider and address the array of concerns raised by the unions and other critics of the industry regarding behavior that contributes to skyrocketing drug and health-care costs and imperils patients…

MASS. MARKET: Union paints leaders of biotech expansion as fat cats

By Jon Chesto
The Patriot Ledger / Apr 11, 2009

BOSTON — These guys often go after sketchy contractors who are looking to build on the cheap. But the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103 has a different target these days: The top executives of some of the country's biggest biotech firms.

The union's "Stop Biotech Looting" campaign reached a new peak on Thursday with rallies urging Gov. Deval Patrick to boot Genzyme CEO Henri Termeer from an economic advisory panel. Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Robert Haynes publicly joined the anti-biotech movement for the first time at a protest on the State House steps. And Local 103 said it would put its considerable weight behind a bill that would prevent drugstores from selling prescription data to drug companies...

Antonellis says the campaign isn't just about ensuring that union workers are hired for these jobs. He says it's about making sure that state dollars reward companies that hire locally and provide adequate health care coverage...

Say what you will about unions, but they still play an important role in our economy. In the construction industry, they can help the authorities keep some of the bad actors in check. Local 103, in particular, has helped advance renewable energy sources in this state.

In this campaign, Local 103 raises important questions about whether political leaders should play favorites with one industry over another, and how multimillion-dollar salaries contribute to sky-high health care costs.

Genzyme battle builds
Unions call on gov to yank CEO from advisory board

By Christine McConville
Boston Herald / Thursday, April 9, 2009

Local labor unions are taking on a captain of the local biotechnology industry.

Yesterday at a State House demonstration, they called on Gov. Deval Patrick to remove Genzyme Corp. Chief Executive Henri Termeer from the governor's economic advisory council.

"It's outrageous," union spokesman Ray Rogers said about Termeer's dual roles as an economic adviser to the governor and a key member of an industry that has received $1 billion in state funds.

The call for Termeer's ouster, which the governor did not respond to, is part of the union-backed Stop Biotech Looting campaign.

Supporters say they want the cash-strapped state to stop giving taxpayers' money to businesses that regularly make billion-dollar profits.

… Cambridge-based Genzyme is a global firm with more than 10,000 employees. It reported 2008 revenue of $4.6 billion.

Termeer serves on the boards of the Biotechnology Industry Organization and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, both industry lobbying groups.

He joined Patrick's Council of Economic Advisors in March 2008, months after Patrick said he wanted to spend $1 billion in state funds to cement the Massachusetts' role as one of the nation's life sciences leader.

… In May 2008, Patrick's $1 billion biotechnology bill was signed into law.

Then this fall, in one of the first allotments of that $1 billion, the state gave $12.9 million to the town of Framingham, where Genzyme is building a new complex.

That state money is being used to link the new technology park — where Genzyme is located — to the town's pipelines.

STATE HOUSE TALK: Robert Haynes, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, speaks at a union rally protesting Genzyme Corp. and the salary of its CEO, Henri Termeer. (Photo by Nancy Lane)

Union protests biotech bill outside Genzyme in Framingham

By Aaron Wasserman, Daily News staff
The MetroWest Daily News / Apr 09, 2009

FRAMINGHAM — The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103, a large local union, brought its campaign against the state's biotech bill to Genzyme Corp.'s campus here yesterday.

Following a State House rally, the union traveled to New York Avenue, where Genzyme is in the midst of about a $250 million project, and three other area towns where prominent pharmaceutical companies are in the midst of expansions.

Lou Antonellis, IBEW Local 103 business agent, said his union objects to the state using the $1 billion biotech bill, approved last year, for companies such as Genzyme. He argued they handsomely pay their executives while not hiring enough local and union workers to build the projects.

The biotech bill has been a centerpiece of Gov. Deval Patrick's first term, aimed at keeping the state at the industry's forefront.

The union's "Stop Biotech Looting" campaign depicts several pharmaceutical companies, such as Genzyme and AstraZeneca PLC, as gluttonous cats feeding on state subsidies. IBEW Local 103 has protested on New York Avenue before. …

"We want the jobs to stay here in Massachusetts; they're subbing them out to contractors that don't pay health care, that don't pay a decent wage to afford to live in Massachusetts," Antonellis said.


By Staff
State House News Service / April 8, 2009

Calling last year's $1 billion life sciences incentive package "corporate welfare" that rewards out-of-state workers, labor unions threatened Wednesday to turn against Gov. Deval Patrick in his 2010 campaign for reelection.

Demonstrating outside the State House against biotech corporations one union leader said Massachusetts biotech firms had "decided to declare war on Massachusetts building trades unions." Laborers said they were angry with the way Patrick's administration has implemented the law. "I think this becomes a campaign issue for the governor right now, leading into 2010," said Ray Rogers, an anti-corporate activist who dogged Patrick during the 2006 campaign. Michael Monahan, business manager of the IBEW Local 103 electricians union, said organized labor would make the biotech package, which his union initially supported, a campaign issue because the administration had not installed adequate pro-union safeguards. "We didn't support it so these pharmaceutical companies could hire out-of-state workers who don't have health care," said Monahan.

Workers have demonstrated outside the capitol for months against Massachusetts biotech companies, including Genzyme, Wyeth, and Biogen.

Mike Monahan, business manager of the IBEW Local 103 electricians union, speaks out against what unionists described as corporate greed among biotech firms. Many unions were represented on the State House steps on Wednesday with the message "we are pissed off!" and carrying signs that read "Stop Biotech Looting".

Big Brother watches over your health

By Marc Songini
Biomed Notebook / March 27, 2009

The Union Soldiers On

Populist outrage isn't confined to national grumbling over the bloated bonuses at dead-in-the-water insurer AIG. Here in Massachusetts, there is at least the seed of it as well. We reported last fall that members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) 103, based in Dorchester, picketed outside Framingham town hall. They were protesting the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center board's vote to award the town $5.2 million as part of an infrastructure grant for planned expansion of Genzyme Corp.'s manufacturing operations.

As promised, the IBEW has continued this trend. On March 16, its members protested at the town hall in Billerica, where the planning board was to vote for an approval of an expansion for biopharmaceutical company EMD Serono Inc., based in Rockland. The company intends to construct a 120,000-square-foot addition to its existing office and research and development facility located at 45 Middlesex Turnpike.

About 50 protestors showed up, said Lou Antonellis, IBEW 103's business agent, expressing frustration with EMD Serono. "It's receiving a $7 million tax break to expand and won't commit to using local workers," he said in an interview. He's not worried these biotech companies may up and leave due to the protests. "They say they'll move to North Carolina. I'm not buying that."

The planning board granted the permit — "with conditions," according to the Billerica town website.

Serono showdown

By Max Bowen/Staff Writer
The Billerica Minuteman / Tue Mar 17, 2009

Billerica, Mass. — Holding signs with slogans like "Just say no to EMD Serono" members of the IBEW Local 103 protested a proposed expansion of the pharmaceutical company which came before the Planning Board.

Citing negative impacts to local workers and concerns over hazardous materials, the union members stood outside Town Hall for a full hour before the hearing began. The protest began at 6 p.m., and more union members arrived as time passed. When the hearing finally began, the meeting room was filled to capacity and then some, as people watched the proceedings from the hallway.

"EMD Serono, this big multinational company looking to move into Billerica, and they won't commit to using local workers for their project," said Lou Antonellis, a business representative for the 103, prior to the Monday, March 16 meeting. "They also have some pretty questionable things going on at their facility."

… Some union members held signs that stated "Local jobs for local workers," while others had a more personal message. Dominic Baccini's sign read, "Fraud scheme settlement: $704 million. Swindling Massachusetts taxpayers: $ 7 million. CEO pay 240 times the average family in Mass: Priceless."

Money was another concern of the union, specifically the $7 million TIF agreement the town has made with Serono. Antonellis said with the cuts to local aid, many town departments are in dire straits. A father with children in the town's schools, he often gets letters asking for markers and pencils.

"There are so many people in need," Antonellis said. "It seems unwise to reward a company with tax breaks." …

IBEW Local 103 members Lou Antonellis and Dominic Baccini stand outside Town Hall protesting the expansion of EMD Serono.

Dominic Baccini was one of dozens of Local 103 members protesting the expansion of EMD Serono in Billerica. Along with their refusal to employs union workers, the 103 raised questions about animal testing and hazardous material storage at the site.

Union wants locals employed for drug company's expansion

By Robert Mills
Lowell Sun / 03/17/2009

BILLERICA — Several dozen members of a local electrical-workers union protested outside a Planning Board meeting last night, demanding that local workers be employed to build a multimillion-dollar expansion at a biopharmaceutical company.

Dozens of members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 103, held signs in front of Town Hall before the meeting, asking that EMD Serono, an affiliate of giant drug-maker Merck, employ locals at a $50 million expansion of their facility on the Burlington line.

Gov. Deval Patrick attended the announcement of the expansion project in April of 2008, saying the move will bring 100 new research jobs to Billerica.

The union, and its Business Agent Louis J. Antonellis, a lifelong Billerica resident, hope that jobs building the expansion will also go to those who call Billerica home, especially in the midst of an economic crisis that has many in Billerica looking for work.

Plans for the expansion, which will increase the size of the research facility on Middlesex Turnpike by 125,000 square feet, were up for approval before the Planning Board last night.

After standing outside with signs, union members, all of whom live in Billerica, moved inside to question the plans before the board.

Antonellis asked a variety of questions about the operation, including details of animal testing done there, and what kind of chemicals would be used, but Planning Board members said such issues went beyond what they were legally allowed to review.

The Planning Board is charged only with reviewing site plans, and issues such as lighting and traffic.

The board voted unanimously to grant the project a special permit, even though several board members, including chairman Paul Marasco, said Antonellis had raised interesting questions.

Town Manager Bill Williams apologized to the Planning Board, saying that he has and will continue to work with the company and the union to reach an agreement about employment.

Jennifer Bianco, senior manager of U.S. communication for Serono, said the company is willing to work with the union, and the company encourages both union and non-union companies to bid to build the expansion.

Antonellis struck a populist tone in pointing out that the company's CEO makes about $20 million a year, exponentially more than the median family income in Billerica, which is about $80,000 a year.

He questioned why Serono is getting a $7 million tax break from the town for building the expansion.

"This company is getting big tax breaks from us and they won't even commit to using local workers," Antonellis said. "It's disgusting."

Despite the loss last night when the Planning Board approved the project, Antonellis said the union will continue to speak out, and could even picket the construction site if their voices are not heard.

"We're not going away," he said.

He encouraged Billerica residents who want local workers building the expansion to contact Williams, selectmen, or EMD Serono directly.

Union electrical workers decry biotech greed
Conflict between the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

The Boston Phoenix / March 4, 2009

… In mid February, unions unveiled three billboards around Kendall to address what they describe as "biotech greed." With signs reading IT'S NOT GENETIC … IT'S CEO BEHAVIOR, the Local 103 IBEW expressed its dismay over biotech executives earning eight-figure state-subsidized salaries. This past Friday, about 50 workers rallied in front of MBC offices at One Cambridge Center to protest new biotech building projects in Framingham (Genzyme Corporation), Lexington (Shire Human Genetic Therapies), and Billerica (EMD Serono Inc.), where foremen are exclusively employing non-union electricians while nearly 30 percent of the IBEW is unemployed.

"We say that MBC stands for 'Massachusetts's Biggest Chiselers,' " said one IBEW member who held a sign reading BIOTECH PAY MAKES ME SICK!!! "This is hardly just a union issue," added Local 103 business agent Louis Antonellis. "There are a lot of people out there who aren't happy that these CEOs are making more than $30 million a year."

… To understand the biotech lobby's arguably hypocritical, quasi-Hegelian power position here in Massachusetts, one needs to look no further than the rather vague response from MBC president and CEO Robert Coughlin — a former state representative — to Phoenix inquiries regarding union accusations: "The Life Science Initiative continues to be a widely supported initiative recognizing the state's need to invest in an industry that creates jobs in Massachusetts," Coughlin wrote in an e-mail. "Industry leaders that are under significant financial constraints must continue to remain competitive on an increasingly global stage."

Mass. Union Wants Life Sciences Act Suspended Pending Provision Barring Non-Union Hiring

By Alex Philippidis
BioRegion News / March 02, 2009

BOSTON — A Massachusetts union is demanding that the Bay State suspend its $1 billion, 10-year Life Sciences Act in order to add provisions requiring the use of union workers on construction projects.

The union took the steps after learning that subcontractors have been hiring nonunion workers over the past year on a half-dozen projects for local life-sci companies.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103 of Dorchester has consolidated its battles with several Boston-area biotech giants into a single public outreach and advocacy campaign. The effort, launched last week, will get help from a New York consultancy that works with labor unions seeking attention from government officials, media, and the public.

The "Stop Biotech Looting" campaign, which includes a website of the same name, takes aim at tax breaks, multi-million-dollar CEO salaries, and other economic privileges enjoyed by the region's largest life-sci companies and their leaders.

"I think [the Life Sciences Act] should absolutely be suspended. It's not the right time to be giving that type of money to big biotech companies. It should definitely be stopped," Lou Antonellis, business representative for Local 103, told BioRegion News last week. "It's no longer prudent public policy to allow this kind of money to be squandered on companies that don't need it. Union construction workers, non-union construction workers — every sector of every industry is hurting right now..."

Antonellis spoke to BioRegion News Feb. 24, a day before leading some 100 members of his union and other supporters to press their case during the monthly meeting of the quasi-public state agency charged with overseeing the spending of funds under the Life Sciences Act.

"We all feel like we're being screwed by you people. And we need you for help. So are you going to help us or not?" Antonellis told the board of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. "Please explain how funding these corporate fat cats with $1 billion of our hard-earned tax dollars isn't criminal, let alone unethical."

"The millions of dollars in corporate welfare these companies stand to inherit can be much better spent lessening the cuts that imperil our most vulnerable citizens — the elderly, the disabled, and the mentally challenged," Antonellis added.…

Union launches anti-biotech funding Web site

By David Harris
Cambridge Chronicle / February 23, 2009

IBEW Local 103 has launched a Web site called Stop Biotech Looting, railing against the public funding of Cambridge biotech companies, such as Biogen, Genzyme and others.

Union launches anti-biotech funding Web site.

Unions protest life sciences board

By Gintautas Dumcius / State House News Service
The Beacon-Villager / February 26, 2009

BOSTON - Holding up homemade signs that read "Say no to Corporate Greed" and "Stop Rewarding Greedy Rich CEOs," dozens of union protesters accused the state agency in charge of $1 billion in life sciences initiatives of providing "corporate welfare" to biotechnology companies.

Louis Antonellis, a business agent with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103, told members of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center board that a former CEO of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals received $91 million between 2006 and 2007, 568 times what an average family of four earns in Massachusetts.

"We go to work, we pay our taxes, and we all feel like we're being screwed by you people," Antonellis told board members.

Unions protest biotech subsidies

By Herald staff
Boston Herald / Thursday, February 26, 2009

Some 120 members of Massachusetts labor unions crowd into yesterday's meeting of the Massachusetts Life Science Center's board, which oversees the state's $1 billion biotech initiative. Lou Antonellis, IBEW Local 103's business manager, asked the board to reconsider the tax breaks it gives to biotechnology companies.

IBEW protest Massachusetts Life Sciences board

Some 120 members of Massachusetts labor unions crowd into yesterday's meeting of the Massachusetts Life Science Center's board, which oversees the state's $1 billion biotech initiative.

Union blasts biotechs
Argues that rich drug cos. don't need state funding

By Christine McConville
Boston Herald / February 23, 2009

A local electricians' union has teamed up with a nationally-known labor activist to take on some very powerful multinational biotechnology companies.

The "Fund Cities and Towns, Not Biotech Fat Cats" ad campaign aims to raise public awareness of these companies, their hiring practices and their eligibility to receive some $1 billion in taxpayer generated state subsidies, organizers said.

The state can't afford it, said Michael Monahan, business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103.

"Corporate welfare from federal, state and local sources has become a way of life (and) federal, state, local and household budgets are strained to the limit," he said.

The campaign accuses Genzyme, AstraZeneca, Biogen Idec, EMD Serono, Shire and Wyeth of hiring lower-cost, out-of-state workers for building projects that receive state subsidies.

The charges are listed on the campaign's Web site,

But biotechnology industry critics say the companies don't need or deserve the handouts. As proof, the campaign points to the firm's billion-dollar profits, and multi-million-dollar executive salaries.

What's more, labor activist Ray Rogers has accused the industry of driving up the cost of health care, by charging excessively high rates for new medicines.

"When you consider the way our tax dollars are being squandered on obsessive profit-takers like Genzyme Corporation's $35 million-a-year CEO, Henri Termeer, you can't help but feel nauseous," he said.

On the Web site, the critics provide details on past corporate scandals, ranging from insider trading charges to fraud convictions.

BREAD WINNERS: Unions are taking aim at biotech firms with a presence in Massachusetts, saying the rich companies and their well-paid execs don't need the state's $1 billion initiative.

Union wages war on biotech money

By Christine McConville
Boston Herald / February 13, 2009

Three new billboards are getting a lot of attention in Kendall Square.

They went up this week in the bustling biotechnology corridor as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103 continues to wage war on the state's celebrated biotechnology industry.

… But the electricians' union says the industry doesn't need, or deserve, the money.

"These companies and their CEOs already make a fortune," said IBEW 103 Business Agent Louis J. Antonellis, "and with so many other people in the state really hurting, we want the governor to stop the giveaway." …

IBEW Local 103 Billboard on Kenmore Square

BEEF: Billboards in Cambridge's Kendall Square, sponsored by a local electricians union, take aim at highly paid biotech execs who don't deserve state incentives.

Stop the Senate Sellout on Generic Drugs!!! Stop Biotech Looting!!! Genzyme = Greed A Message from IBEW Local 103 Mony for Need not Greed | Public Services and Healthcare for ALL!!!