Corbett administration disputes job guarantees for Pennsylvania liquor store workers
Share with others:
The union for Pennsylvania liquor store employees inked a contract guaranteeing them work for three more years that it says could kill liquor privatization -- but the Corbett administration disagrees.
The United Food and Commercial Workers agreed to a contract Sunday for 3,500 of its workers containing a clause requiring any entity taking over liquor or wine sales from the state to hire union workers and pay them contracted wages, insurance and pension benefits.
"People have come to the realization in this administration that they need the money from this system and no matter what they say publicly, they know that if you look at other privatization scenarios in this country on liquor, states lost money on privatizing," Wendell Young IV, chairman of the union's PA Wines and Spirits Council, said. "And that's the last thing we can afford to do with budgets so tight. This puts [privatization] off to another day and that day's three years or more down the road."
A spokesman for Gov. Tom Corbett said the clause guaranteeing union work would be voided should the Legislature privatize alcohol sales.
"It has zero bearing on privatization efforts," Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley said. "You can't force a private employer to abide by that contract. If the Legislature passes a law privatizing the Liquor Control Board, that's the idea of it: It gets the state out of it. Private sector workers are not state workers with generous wages, benefits and pensions."
The union chairman, Mr. Harley said, is mistaken.
"This is wishful thinking on Wendell Young's part," he said.
The pact is good through July 1, 2015. It is a four-year deal retroactive to July 2011 when the union's last contract expired.
After a one-year salary freeze it contains 4 percent salary increases each of the final three years. It was affirmed by union members Sunday in meetings around the state, with 85 percent voting in favor.
House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, another privatization supporter, could not be immediately reached for comment.
First Published June 5, 2012 2:47 pm