The anti-Wall Street protests are, indeed, fanning out. And the latest permutation is about to target job cuts made by large corporations. As it so happens, Pfizer is high on the list. A group calledConnecticut Working Families, which is a coalition of community groups, labor unions and activists, plans a vigil outside Pfizer facilities in Groton, where the drugmaker conducts R&D ( see this).
Why Pfizer? The drugmaker is in their crosshairs after accepting tens of millions of dollars in local and state government subsidies to build an R&D facility in New London, Connecticut. But earlier this year, Pfizer decided to shutter that complex and is also shifting jobs from Groton to Cambridge, Massachusetts. All totaled, some 2,500 Pfizer jobs are leaving the state (back story).
“When huge companies like Pfizer take tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in public money, and then pull up stakes as soon as the money disappears, that’s what wrong with our economy,” Lindsay Farrell, Legislative Director of Connecticut Working Families, tells The Groton Patch. “We can’t keep letting big companies take advantage of us, or the middle class won’t survive in Connecticut.”
The protest also comes as Congress debates a possible ‘tax holiday’ for large corporations with huge sums of money parked overseas. A recent report by The Institute for Policy Studies found the 2004 tax holiday enabled 843 companies to reduce tax rates from 35 percent to just over 5 percent. These companies repatriated $312 billion in profits, while avoiding about $92 billion in federal taxes.
Moreover, 58 companies, which accounted for almost 70 percent of all funds repatriated, slashed nearly 600,000 jobs while saving an estimated $64 billion in taxes. Drugmakers, however, were singled out as prime beneficiaries - they repatriated more than $100 billion in offshore earnings, and kept an estimated $30 billion in tax savings.
And Pfizer was among the Top 10 layoff leaders. The drugmaker repatriated $40.1 million in 2004 and 2005 and, as of last year, had $48.2 billion in offshore funds, while laying off 58,071 people between 2004 and 2011 (here is the report). Pfizer, by the way, is also a member of WIN America, or Working to Invest Now in America, a coalition of large corporations that is lobbying for another tax holiday.
For its part, a Pfizer spokeswoman tells The Day that the drugmaker is "dedicated to being good corporate citizens and business partners in the communities where we live and work." Maybe so, but the sour economy is clearly prompting more people to openly vent their frustration. Wall Street may be an obvious choice for protests, but it should not be surprising that other corporate targets are chosen. Given the job cuts and the ceo pay packages (read this), pharma makes an easy target.