The Teamsters union decided to fight soda taxes Friday during its annual convention in response to a recently passed measure in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and the city council passed a 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax June 16 on soda and other sugary drinks. Teamsters Local 830 members rallied June 8 outside the city hall against the measure but were unable to stop it. Teamsters nationally have now made it an official policy to fight soda taxes.
“These taxes are harmful to workers, small grocers and the city’s poor. The tax that the city council passed in Philadelphia will go to fund the city’s pet projects at the expense of our workers and economy,” Local 830 Secretary-Treasurer Daniel Grace said at the convention. “We are continuing the fight against this unfair, regressive tax in court. Our fight is not over.”
Grace put forth a resolution at the national convention to make the fight against soda taxes a policy across the entire union. Union leadership and other local chapter officials agreed because of the negative impact the policy has on employment. Teamsters members work in trucking, warehouses, restaurants and many other industries that either sell or transport soda.
“They spent years trying to push through this tax that targets one industry over another, and it’s the workers that will suffer as a result,” Grace added. “Our city council’s job isn’t to raise revenue on the backs of workers; it’s a disgrace.”
Philadelphia is now the largest city to have a tax on sugary drinks. Kenney focused on the potential tax revenue as opposed to the health benefits of discouraging soda consumption. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg famously proposed a tax on soda in 2010, but his proposal ended up failing. Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter version of the policy failed in 2011.
Kenney has noted on numerous occasions the tax will not hurt small businesses or cost jobs. He reasons it will only impact the large profits of major soda companies. The mayor has garnered significant support for his tax.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders condemned soda taxes April 21 for disproportional impacting the poor. He made his comments not long after his primary rival former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came out in support of the soda taxes.
Kenney did not respond to a request for comment by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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