DC 33 lines up behind Nutter's soda tax

Mayor Nutter has just gained a valuable ally in his fight to get a tax on sugar sweetened beverages through City Council: AFSMCE District Council 33, the city's largest employee union representing about 9,400 blue collar municipal workers.

DC 33 is urging its workers to call council members Wilson Goode Jr. and Jim Kenney - two votes the Nutter administration has been courting - and ask them to vote for a tax on sugar sweetened beverages.

"We are at a crucial phase with the budget process. City Council will be voting on a budget that will have a direct impact on our contract - including job security and health care," a DC 33 flier reads (see below for the full flier).

DC 33's support for Nutter's signature budget initiative raises some really interesting questions, given that the union is working without a contract and is in the middle of contract talks with Mayor Nutter.

When asked if the city had offered or even hinted at contract concessions in order to secure the union's support on this matter, Nutter spokesman Doug Oliver said "not at all."

"We would not barter away the future of Philadelphia simply for support of a sugar sweetened beverage tax," Oliver said.

Rather, Oliver said, this is simply a case where the administration's interests and those of DC 33 are aligned.

"We're fighting to preserve essential services and they know their members provide those essential services," Oliver said. "We're pleased that they're supportive."

In Nutter's view City Council's current budget package, which does not include a tax on sugary drinks, leaves too little in the way of cash reserves for the city to operate without further spending cuts and layoffs, which the mayor wants to avoid.

District Council 33 President Pete Matthews could not immediately be reached for comment.

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