Protestors: Soda Tax Will Destroy City

By Matt Petrillo
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 2 | Posted Mar. 25, 2010

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Photo by Matt Petrillo

Union members, mom-and-pop store owners and the soft-drink kings came together in support Monday to protest the proposed 2-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks, which Mayor Nutter says can help close more than half of the city’s estimated $150 million deficit for the 2011 fiscal year.

“Mayor Nutter will not mess with our soda people in Philadelphia,” says Danny Grace, secretary-treasurer of the Teamsters Local Union 830. “We’re here to say in one loud and unified voice, ‘No!’ to Mayor Nutter.”

The protestors, organized by Save Philly Jobs Not Taxes Coalition, say the tax targets just one part of the sugar industry, and argue that such a tax contradicts state law.

But Mayor Nutter contends that it’s either this tax, or the closing of dozens of libraries, police departments and other public services in the city. Some members of City Council aren’t convinced.

"I like to buy things that are two-for-one,” says Councilman Brian O’Neill. “Well, this is the reverse of that! This is the one-for-two tax. You pay for two, and you get one.”

He also said that the tax could also extend to cheesesteaks and Tastykakes.

“Where’s the end to this? If you start with soda, you can’t pretty much stop anywhere else,” he says.

An army of soda trucks circled City Hall for more than a half-hour, honking in protest and supporting the laborers and employers – like Frank Maimone -- who say they would be affected by the tax.

He's the owner of Pizza Rustica, and says that Nutter is raising the cost of all products, not just soda.

“The price of pizza, of bread, of sandwiches, everything you buy. And what the mayor and Council may not understand is, it’s not going to affect your health. And you're going to pay."

He also added that he would be forced to lay off at least one worker if the tax goes into effect.

But Maimone is not the only employer who says he would have to let people go. Grace says that up to 2,000 workers in Local 830 could lose their jobs as a result of the tax.

Peggy Kaufman worked for Pepsi and Canada Dry for nearly 20 years, and stipulates that local businesses within the city will suffer. “A lot of people are going to go elsewhere to buy their soda, and not in the city, and now Philadelphians are going their jobs,” she says.

Labor Relations Director of Coca-Cola Lou Fonseca says that even during the recession, his company created new jobs. He says the mayor would rather watch the city crumble.

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1. Stu Strumwasser / Snow Beverages said... on Mar 25, 2010 at 03:18PM

“I woke up today unable to contain my frustration about the misleading information I am seeing in regard to the proposed soda tax and also the disproportionate focus some are trying to put on to the consumption of sugar alone.

Sugar has calories. Yes, we know that. But let’s be clear: lots of healthy foods (like say, fruit) contain sugar and also, if you consumed NO calories, well, you wouldn’t do very well…. Of course there is a major obesity problem in this country. There is also a general health crisis in this country. However, trying to somehow place the blame entirely on sugar or on beverages like soda that are sweetened with sugar, is myopic at best, and misleading at worst.

For instance, a lot was made recently in the press about a study released that concluded that there is a link between regular consumption of traditional soft drinks and pancreatic cancer. My dad just recovered from pancreatic cancer which nearly killed him a year ago. I am particularly se”

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2. Jill Greene said... on May 1, 2010 at 04:04PM

“I would take the teamsters more seriously if they had fought just as hard for the libraries and public pools that were closed last year as they are for SODA (?!). The city of Philadelphia has a budget crisis on its hands. You people pick sugar, and more specifically, SODA OVER BOOKS!!?? Get your priorities straight. How many people lost their jobs when those libraries closed? Didn't give a rats rear end then, did you? Want to know what's wrong with this country? Why we're not thriving like we should be? Take a close, critical look at what's going on in Philly. Look at what we value and what we don't. Mayor Nutter got it right! Good for him!!”

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