Prohibition in Pa: 94 Years Old Today and Still Kicking

For Immediate Release
Commonwealth Foundation
Contact: 717-671-1901

Prohibition in PA: 94 Years Old Today and Still Kicking

Gov. union leaders keep Pennsylvania stuck in the 1920s

January 17, 2014, HARRISBURG, Pa — 94 years ago today, Prohibition began in Pennsylvania and across the country.  While the intervening years have seen almost every other state freed from the shackles of state-controlled liquor, Pennsylvania remains nearly a century behind the times—and power politics enabled by public resources are the cause.

“Despite bipartisan, majority support in poll after poll, Pennsylvania lawmakers have yet to get government out of the booze business,” noted Matthew Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation.  “The main reason?  Government union lobbying and political spending against taxpayers’ interests.  What’s worse is that taxpayers are forced to pay for it all.”

In addition to profiting from higher taxes and higher prices on government-sold wine and spirits, the United Food and Commercial Workers’ union (UFCW) uses taxpayer funds to collect union dues, fees and campaign contributions directly from employees’ paychecks—an exclusive legal privilege granted only to government unions.

“Much of this political money is then used to lobby politicians and make campaign contributions to squash the very liquor privatization legislation that is supported by the majority of Pennsylvanians,” said Brouillette.  “Amazingly, the taxpayers are forced to collect money that is then used to fight against their interests.”

Case in point: The $1 million in anti-privatization TV and radio ads that UFCW President Wendell Young IV touted last spring was paid for by dues collected using taxpayer-funded payroll systems.

“Today, Prohibition is turning 94 in Pennsylvania because of the political advocacy of government unions—advocacy that the taxpayers are forced to subsidize,” Brouillette said.  “We know that the UFCW will continue to fight against taxpayers’ interests.  But why should the taxpayers have to continue subsidizing the union’s political activity?  Public resources should never be used for political purposes—and using them to keep Pennsylvania stuck in the 1920s is just one more reason to end this scam.”

# # #

For more information, please contact our director of media relations for the Commonwealth Foundation at 717-671-1901 or [email protected].

The Commonwealth Foundation, founded in 1988, crafts free-market policies, convinces Pennsylvanians of their benefits, and counters attacks on liberty.