Protesters on Monday plan to hold a mock awards show for General Electric and city and state leaders – using the format to make sarcastic jabs at the company and its plans to relocate its headquarters to Boston,
GE announced this year it intends to leave its Connecticut facility and move to a spot along Boston’s Fort Point Channel. The declaration came after the city offered a package of incentives that includes millions in tax breaks and infrastructure improvements.
Mayor Marty Walsh and Gov. Charlie Baker have heralded GE’s coming arrival as a boon for Boston, saying it would, among other benefits, help invigorate the local innovation economy and attract more big companies to the Hub.
But a coalition of opponents are not convinced. More than 30 advocacy groups are coming together to challenge that narrative, its leaders say.
Their slogan is #MakeGEPay.
“If GE wants to move here, they can move here, but the state and the city don’t have to give our tax dollars to facilitate that when there are so many other priorities,” said Cole Harrison, executive director for Massachusetts Peace Action.
The deal struck with GE includes $120 million from the state to help with building costs and $25 million in tax breaks from the city, as well as millions more in transportation upgrades – including the rehab of the now-closed Northern Avenue bridge. According to the deal, the Boston Redevelopment Authority may allow GE to move into properties in Fort Point without paying rent for up to 20 years. Much of the agreement is not final.
GE executives plan to join Baker and Walsh at 60 State Street on Monday for a press conference, where they are expected to announce more details about the deal.
Demonstrators plan to gather outside that meeting to criticize GE for its efforts to minimize its tax burden, its role in polluting and cleaning up a river in Western Massachusetts and its business manufacturing military equipment – by giving the company fake “awards” for those accomplishments.
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They will also critique funding levels in Boston for housing, schools and the MBTA, leaders said.
Activists also said they would call attention to the fact that the deal to entice GE came together behind closed doors, and that taxpayers did not have a chance to weigh in – this despite celebrations about a Republican governor and Democratic mayor working together for a bipartisan victory.
“We’re supposed to find this inspiring that they collaborated to make a great deal without our knowledge, consent or input?” said Eli Gerzon, of Jewish Voice for Peace. “That’s not really inspiring, because there are so many people and so many groups that were not at the table.”
Many opponents come from the grassroots movement that challenged the city’s pursuit of the 2024 Summer Olympics. There are parallels between that campaign and this one, Gerzon said.
“Mayor Marty Walsh really likes big, exciting, shiny things,” Gerzon said. “But we have to ask a couple questions and look at it from a couple different angles and say, ‘Is this really helping the city of Boston and the people of Massachusetts?’”
Protesters plan to gather at 3:30 p.m. on Monday. By Sunday evening 119 people said on Facebook that they would attend.