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Protesters Outside Pfizer Campus Criticize Tax Breaks

Protesters Outside Pfizer Campus Criticize Tax Breaks [the Day, New London, Conn.]

From Day, The (New London, CT) (October 14, 2011)

Oct. 13--About a dozen protesters outside Pfizer Inc.'s research site on Eastern Point Road in Groton held up posters today decrying tax breaks for major corporations that send jobs out of state after their economic enticements expire.

The quiet group, most of whom were associated with a nonprofit organization called Connecticut Working Families, spent less than an hour brandishing signs such as Pfizer Left Me Out in the Cold and grasping wind-buffeted candles while acknowledging frequent supportive honks from cars and trucks that whizzed by.

Lindsay Farrell, legislative director of Connecticut Working Families and one of the protesters, said Pfizer is a particularly egregious example of a company that uses tax breaks to its advantage -- and to the disadvantage of state workers. The pharmaceutical giant announced earlier this year that it would be reducing Pfizer's Connecticut work force by 1,100 within the next year, with many of the jobs going to Massachusetts and others moving to Shanghai, China.

"They've built facilities here, they've grown their work force here, and now that the money's drying up and the tax abatements are expiring, they're picking up stakes and they're moving to Massachusetts," Farrell said in an interview outside Pfizer's main gate.

Farrell said Connecticut Working Families, which is separate from the political party of the same name, is working to get the message out about the downside of tax breaks as the state legislature prepares for a special session later this month focusing on the economy.

"We're sick of this disease of giving taxpayer dollars to companies," she said.

Farrell said corporate givebacks that once cost taxpayers $3 million two decades ago have ballooned to $300 million today. Pfizer, she said, took $160 million in state and municipal incentives -- much of it for building its former world research headquarters in New London -- only to see the multibillion-dollar corporation shed hundreds of jobs and sell its office building to Electric Boat little more than a decade later.

"They hire a few people for a few years and then they go back to business as usual and pocket the money," Farrell said.

Pfizer did not immediately respond to the protest, which attracted a small police presence, but promised to have a statement by later today.


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Posted: October 2011