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Poll indicates the selling of state stores is minor priority

04.15.15

APRIL 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Poll indicates the selling of state stores is minor priority

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 5th- While some members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, mainly pro-business Republicans, continue to press for the selling-off of the State Wine and Spirits Stores, a new poll conducted and released by Franklin & Marshall College, indicates that Pennsylvanians really believe there are bigger issues facing the state than privatizing the system.

Again this legislative season has seen another attempt to pass legislation that would allow the selling-off of the around 600-plus wine and spirits stores currently operated by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB). The selling of the system will put more than 5,000 mostly union family sustaining jobs in harms way.

The United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union represents the majority of the stores employees, including clerks and shelve stockers. UFCW Local 1776 represents the workers within the eastern part of Pennsylvania while UFCW Local 23 represents the western part.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union represents mainly the office employees of the system including the PLCB auditors, which operates the stores.

According to the March 26th released Franklin & Marshall College poll only one percent of respondents believe selling of the system should be a “priority” of state lawmakers.

Also, only thirty percent feel the system should be sold. The majority of respondents would rather see the system modernized, as Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Tom Wolf has proposed, or allow the stores to remain owned by the taxpayers.

Governor Wolf promises to veto any legislation that would lead to the privatization of the store system. He has proposed a plan for the PLCB, which operates the system, to “modernized” the system by extending Sunday hours and Holiday sales, improve store locations, having more flexible pricing, create a system of competitive pricing, and more customer engagement.

Net profits of the latest reporting period under current system was $123.68 million on gross revenue of $2.27 billion, amounting to a net profit margin of 5.44 percent. Under Mr. Wolf’s proposal he estimates the system would be even more profitable creating an additional annual profit of $185 million by fiscal 2018.

The survey was conducted between March 17th to 23rd. The poll involved 597 Pennsylvania registered to vote citizens.