Unions Oppose LCB Reform Bill, Despite Revisions

Jan 2, 2012

Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai's effort to dismantle the state's Liquor Control Board went through a major overhaul in committee in December, but the changes haven't caused a shift in battle lines.

The union that represents state liquor store managers continues to lobby against the bill, even in its much-weakened state. The two Pennsylvania chapters of the United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents state store employees, also oppose the measure.

The House Liquor Control Committee passed a version of HB 11, which would leave the Liquor Control Board intact, a major turnaround from Turzai's original proposal to completely privatize liquor sales.

However, the Independent State Store Union says that the bill's provision to allow beer distributors to begin selling wine will cause the state store system to slowly diminish.

David Wannamaker of ISSU said that about 60 percent of state stores' business is in wine sales, and diluting that enterprise amongst beer distributors as well would be a major blow.

"When this has been done in other states, it's caused the demise of the system in — anybody's guess — two to three years," said Wannamaker. "Eventually, it will have the desired effect of privatization."

"Unlike the original proposal, which certainly ended the system as we know it, this will just cause it a slow death by putting the wine into at least 1,200 more outlets," said Wannamaker.

He said that the ISSU will continue to oppose the amended version of Turzai's bill as it's considered by the full House in 2012.