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    Union says protest was against decision to hire out-of-state contractor

    Your article regarding the Battelle Memorial Institute (“Town is keeping wary eye on lab,” Feb. 20) incorrectly characterized recent protests as a union vs. non-union issue. In fact it was a protest focusing on Battelle’s decision to hire an out-of-state contractor at the expense of local workers.

    Battelle’s assertion that 40 percent of the project is being done by union firms is also not true. Less than 20 percent of the shops on the project pay fair wages and benefits including health care and are represented by unions. Furthermore, the quote from Battelle’s spokeswoman, “Our goal is to keep jobs in Massachusetts” should have prompted the question, “Then why are you using out-of-state workers?”

    It’s “nice” for Battelle to get good press for continuing “their investment in the state.” It would be nice for the rest of us if they actually invested in Massachusetts by employing local workers, otherwise known as taxpayers who foot the bill for their tax-exempt status.

    Ed Marenburg

    Labor-management director, Sheet Metal Workers International Assoc. LU#17,