Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

The Booze Wars, now televised everywhere in PA

The union representing the state's wine and spirits store clerks is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to take on Gov. Corbett and his quest to privatize liquor sales in Pennsylvania.

The Booze Wars, now televised everywhere in PA

A screen grab from the United Food and Commercial Workers local 1776´s television ad against privatizing the state´s liquor stores.
A screen grab from the United Food and Commercial Workers local 1776's television ad against privatizing the state's liquor stores.

The union representing the state's wine and spirits store clerks is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to take on Gov. Corbett and his quest to privatize liquor sales in Pennsylvania.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1776, headed by Wendell W. Young IV, will start airing a tough ad statewide that calls Corbett's privatization push a "reckless scheme" that will raise taxes, cost thousands of jobs and "destroy small businesses."

Not only that, the ad alleges, but the administration's "reckless scheme will put alcohol on every street corner and increase crime."

The ad, which will air on both television and radio starting Friday, will be up as long as the Senate continues debate on a bill that would gradually close Pennsylvania's 600-plus State Stores while allowing private entrepreneurs - starting with beer distributors -- to sell wine and hard liquor. As it stands legislatively, that bill has passed the House of Representatives, and is now in the Senate's Law and Justice Committee, where it is widely expected to be changed.

When all is said and done, the tab for UFCW's ad buy could exceed $1 million.

For the union, at least, that is money well-spent.

"This is a big issue," Young said in an interview Thursday. "The ad basically calls out ... another in a string of bad decisions by this governor. The courts have repeatedly come down against him, the state Attorney General has ruled against him. This guy can't seem to get anything right, and you just can’t trust him."

They are harsh words for Corbett, who has been pushing hard for the legislature to pass a privatization bill before it breaks for the summer. Getting such a bill signed into law is considered important for his reelection chances in 2014, and with poll after poll showing drops in the governor's approval numbers.

Privatization proponents argue that taking the system private will increase consumer choice and lead to lower liquor prices, among other benefits.  


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About this blog

Commonwealth Confidential gives you regularly updated coverage of the state legislature, the governor and the workings of the state bureaucracy. It is written by Angela Couloumbis and Amy Worden in the Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau, based right in the statehouse, and by the newspaper's far-flung campaign reporters.



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