The PA Republicans have been trying for years to get ride of the state-controlled wine and spirits stores, and it looks like they’re finally going to pull it off. What a great idea! Instead of people having to buy booze during store hours, they’ll be able to buy it anytime they want — and we can maybe even widen our lead as the worst drunk driving state in the tri-state area!
Thousands of state workers could lose jobs if Republicans successfully push the legislation, said a labor leader representing store clerks. The Liquor Control Board employs 5,000 people.
Wendell W. Young IV, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers’ wine and spirits council, said the privatization effort is absurd because if the LCB were a private company, the state typically would spend hundreds of millions of dollars to save up to 5,000 jobs. He points to the state’s action in February to spend $42 million — combined with private investment and company equity — to save 1,000 jobs at the Acker Philadelphia Shipyard.
Lou Matter, who manages a liquor store in the North Side, said he is unaware of any effort to assist employees in making the transition into the private sector.
“Is there some sort of plan in the works? Not that I’m aware of,” said Matter, 45, of Spring Garden.
Turzai’s bill offers tax credits for private employers that hire ex-state store employees, preferential hiring for them at state agencies, and vouchers for retraining, Miskin said.
He countered that Pennsylvanians favor private liquor sales, based on statewide polling. Those actively opposing it are unions representing state store employees, who have a vested interest, he said.
“You’d be hard-pressed to think private retailers are not going to hire knowledgeable workers” from the state stores, Miskin said.
Although customers such as Peggy Ament of Hampton think privatization will improve the selection and pricing of liquor available, she is concerned about the fate of the workers.
“I think they need to do something for these people, especially the ones who put in a lot of years and are nearing retirement,” said Ament, 45, a teacher. “It would be very unfair not to help them out in some way.”
Dr. Phil Basala, a physician from Somerset who was in Pittsburgh to visit his father, thinks the free market should dictate what happens to employees.
“The problem is these workers have unrealistic salary and benefits to begin with,” Basala said. “I don’t think the state should be in the liquor store business, so as a taxpayer, I don’t see why we should be paying a lot of money to help people who are already getting benefits that I wish I enjoyed.”
You hear that? A fucking doctor is going on about “benefits that I wish I enjoyed.” You mean, like playing golf during the work week?