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March 12, 2009
Smack in the middle of the biotech district of Cambridge, at one of the busy intersections, is a whopping billboard. It’s one of those that rotate vertical segments between three faces, and for some weeks now, all three of them have proclaimed loudly “Stop Biotech Greed!” Variations on the theme include how much money biotech companies make, how the state should stop trying to encourage the industry and spend its money somewhere else, and so on. I’m sure the folks at Biogen enjoy seeing this thing switching between messages all day long; it’s right across from one of their buildings.
I wasn't at all sure who was funding this, because that billboard would presumably take more cash to lease than many activist groups have on hand. I do see occasional hand-made flyers against a proposed biological lab that Boston University wants to build, an issue that’s been fermenting around here for some time, but this was the first blast of anti-industry sentiment that I’d noticed. A quick look around provided the answer, though: the message is from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the bottom of the dispute seems to be that several building project are going on that employ non-union electricians. And since a significant amount of the new construction in this area has to do with biotech and associated fields, well. . .
I suppose that they figured that attacking "biotech greed" will play better than a billboard saying "Hire Our Members Or We'll Insult You Again".
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