Liquor Store Union Distorts Facts to Skew Poll

We received a forwarded email, in which the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1776 (the union for liquor store employees) called on members to vote in a PCN poll on Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) privatization.

This missive is filled with misinformation. Here is what the letter claims are at stake:

  • $500 million in annual revenue. The state store’s annual “profit” is only around $90 million, the rest of the revenue comes from liquor taxes, which will continue after privatization. In fact, private businesses will pay new taxes not paid by government entities, such as corporate income taxes and property taxes, in addition to biennial license renewal fees.
  • 4,000 good-paying jobs. The jobs in liquor stores won’t be disappearing but transferring to private companies. What may change is that employees won’t be forced to contribute union dues to the UFCW 1776—and bankroll union boss Wendell Young’s $300,000 annual pay.
  • Keeping booze out of the hands of youth. If Pennsylvania had, as the email claims, the “greatest system of controlling underage drinking in the World,” you’d expect the lowest rate of underage drinking in the world…or even a rate lower than the US average. Yet this is not the case. Pennsylvania ranks middle of the pack in the nation in underage drinking. Even the PA Liquor Control Board’s 2009 study concludes the state’s high school age drinking rates are higher than the US average.

    This is supported by a study by John Pulito and Dr. Antony Davies of Duquesne University, which found absolutely no link between underage drinking, binge drinking and DUI fatalities and the level of state control. Private employees have just as much incentive to refuse alcohol to minors as public employees, as they both face third-degree misdemeanor charges, fines and possible imprisonment. Likewise, private retailers would risk losing their license if they violate any alcohol laws.

While last week the PCN poll, similar to the recent Quinnipiac University poll, showed majority support for privatization, it now reports only 30 percent in favor of privatization. But you still have until the end of the month to vote in this unscientific poll.