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State stores privatization not likley without Senator Scarnati support

09.26.11

SEPTEMBER 2011 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

State stores privatization not likley without Senator Scarnati support

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 1st- There is a difference of opinions within the Republican party leadership in Harrisburg regarding if the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), which operates the Pennsylvania Wine and Spirit Shoppes, should be sold to private owners.

The debate of whether Pennsylvania should sell their state liquor stores to private owners resurfaced in 2011 in the General Assembly in Harrisburg and the three labor unions that represent the workers will likely be affected if the stores are privatized.

In early summer, the Pennsylvania Senate held hearings on what impact privatization will have on the public, the business community, and the unions that represent the PLCB employees.

The United Food and Commerical Workers Union (UFCW) represents the majority of the workers employed by the PLCB. The UFCW represents shelf stockers and clerk workers. Most lower tied supervisors of the system are represented by the Independent State Store Union (ISSU) in Harrisburg while the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union represents mainly office employees including auditors.

There are approximately 625 liquor stores throughout Pennsylvania and the LCB also operates liquor stores located in around 50 grocery stores. The retail store system generates millions of dollars in profit including creating $400 million in tax revenue.

Supporters of privatization suggest the selling of the stores would generate $1.5 billion of state revenue yield, but it would be a one-time infusion of funds.

Before a sale can be held legislation would need to be passed in the Pennsylvania General Assembly and signed by Republican Governor Tom Corbett, which supports privatizing the stores.

Pennsylvania House of Representative and Majority Leader Mike Turzai (Republican-28th Legislative District), introduced legislation in July that has been critized by Local 1776.

However, the top Republican in the Pennsylvania Senate, Joe Scarnati (25th Legislative District), indicated he does not support privatizing the system and stated before a sale is contemplated other options should be explored. He suggested reforming the PLCB including having more flexibility in liquor sales, which should include allowing varying prices by region.

Without Mr. Scarnati support privatization is not likely to become law.

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