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As promised, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf vetoes Liquor Stores privatization

10.11.15

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

As promised, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf vetoes Liquor Stores privatization

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 5th- Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Tom Wolf rejected the pro-business anti-union Republican plan in the General Assembly to privatize the state liquor stores by vetoing their plan. Mr. Wolf days earlier vetoed the Republicans state budget with no Democrats voting in favor of the legislation. The budget passed both sides of the Republican controlled legislature leaving the state currently without a spending plan to begin the fiscal year.

Mr. Wolf last year while campaigning for governor made it clear he would not support the privatization of the State Wine and Spirits Stores, which are unionized. Also, the Republican legislature wants to privatize the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) which oversees the selling of the wine and liquor in Pennsylvania.

The Republican members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly have been pushing for the selling-off of the system, which provides millions of dollars of profits for Pennsylvania, for several terms of the legislature. However, this is the first time a privatization proposal has reached any governors desk. When the Republican’s controlled both the House of Representatives and the Senate and fellow Republican Tom Corbett was Pennsylvania Governor last year no privatization legislation passed both sides of the General Assembly.

Meanwhile, net profits of the latest reporting period under the current system was $123.68 million on gross revenue of $2.27 billion, amounting to a net profit margin of 5.44 percent.

Mr. Wolf campaigned during his attempt to unseat Incumbent anti-union Republican Governor Tom Corbett in 2014 against the privatization of the 600-plus wine and spirit store system. Mr. Wolf made it clear he would veto any legislation that would sell-off the stores should it reach his desk wanting instead to modernized the system.

He has proposed a plan for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (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. 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. However, as expected Mr. Wolf’s plan was greeted was skepticism by Republicans, and they have not taken any action on his proposal.

The selling of the system will put more than 5,000 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. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union represents mainly the office employees of the system including the PLCB auditors. UFCW Local 1776 represents the workers within the eastern part of Pennsylvania while UFCW Local 23 represents the western part.

On July 2nd Mr. Wolf vetoed the privatization plan that would have allowed private retailers to sell wine and liquor, and lease the PLCB’s wholesale operations which will result in the closing of the State Stores. As more licenses are purchased to sell booze any state store in that area would be closed and the employees would be fired.