Home ISSU - Pennsylvania's Independent State Store Union

Press Releases

February 11, 2013: Public Support Declines for Liquor Privitization

December 9, 2011: Independent State Store Union Denounces PLCB's Decision to Run Public Service Announcement Blaming Rape Victims and Their Friends

July 13, 2011: Independent State Store Union Opposes Representative Turzai’s State Store Privatization

June 21, 2011: Independent State Store Union Denounces Anti-Employee PLCB-Sponsored Legislation

April 28, 2011: State Store Managers Union Denounce PLCB=RUBE Goldburg Liquor Vending Machines

April 13, 2011: Independent State Store Union Opposes PLCB Chairman Stapleton's "Alternative to Privatization"

March 10, 2011: Private Profits Over Public Good – Misguided Principles


For Immediate Release
February 11, 2013

 

For Further Information Call: 
David Wanamaker
717-234-2568
1-800-692-4778

 

PUBLIC SUPPORT DECLINES FOR LIQUOR PRIVATIZATION

State stores enjoy more support than Governor Corbett in latest poll

Harrisburg, PA – After two years of public debate in Pennsylvania over liquor privatization, public opinion is shifting in favor of the current state store system said the Independent State Store Union (ISSU), the union that represents 720 state store managers.

ISSU cited polling numbers from the latest Keystone Poll, conducted by Franklin and Marshall College, as proof that the public is paying attention to this very important public policy debate and they are not buying the empty promises of privatization profiteers.

“Privatization is a “sound bite” that usually polls well but as voters learn the specific details and impacts of such plans, privatization loses its luster with the public,” said David Wanamaker, spokesperson for ISSU.

The latest polling reveals an overall decline of 16% in public support for privatization. A June, 2011 poll by Quinnipiac University indicated that 69% of respondents supported privatization; the current Keystone Poll showed only 53% of those surveyed supporting privatization.

Additionally, while the latest Keystone Poll indicates moderate support for privatization, that support is “soft” at best. The poll reported that only 34% “strongly support” privatization while another 19% “somewhat support” the concept.

ISSU contends that as the privatization debate continues, facts will replace empty promises and public support will continue to diminish.

“When Rep. Turzai rolled out his privatization plan, he did so with the promise of generating $2 billion in new revenue for the Commonwealth. This grossly inflated revenue projection helped to artificially inflate public support for privatization. The promise of significant revenue -- without a tax increase -- made it easier for normally conservative Pennsylvanians to accept a bad idea. When the revenue projection was proven to be significantly exaggerated and unrealistic, public support started to wane,” Wanamaker said.

Wanamaker also attributes the decline in support to the realization that increased convenience, better selection and lower prices would not materialize under privatization as promised.

“The liquor and wine privatization experiment playing out in the state of Washington is just the most recent example that privatization has been a failure in other states. Despite the lofty promises of cheaper prices, increased selection and improved convenience, the opposite have occurred,” he said.
Reports on the Washington experiment show that consumers are paying much more at private retailers for many types of wine and liquor. In fact, according to media reports, residents are crossing the borders to Idaho and Oregon -- jurisdictions with state-run liquor stores -- for cheaper prices.

Additionally, in Washington, selection has diminished greatly. It has been reported that Costco, the largest private retailer in the state, stocks only 70 products – the average Pennsylvania state store stocks over 2500 items.

More recently, small, independently owned liquor stores in Washington have been forced to shut their doors because they cannot compete in a market dominated by large, corporate owned box stores and retailers such as Costco, Walmart and Walgreens. The loss of independently owned liquor outlets has negatively impacted convenience. It is expected that the same corporations will dominate the market in Pennsylvania under the proposed privatized system with similar results.

“Understandably, increased prices, decreased selection and less convenience have resulted in a severe case of “buyer’s remorse” from Washington consumers who were promised more and expected better under a privatized liquor system. Pennsylvanians are not willing to accept the same empty promises and similar results,” Wanamaker said.

“Just like the privatization of the Pennsylvania Lottery, which was opposed by a margin of 64% to 18% in the F&M poll, we do not believe our taxpayers are willing to turn over our state stores -- a valuable state-owned asset which produces much needed revenue for vital state programs -- to faceless corporations at the expense of Commonwealth employees, existing small business owners and our residents who have a integral stake in the current system,” Wanamaker said.

“State store privatization is simply not a priority issue to any great number of residents. A November 2011 Keystone Poll ranked the voters priorities of issues being considered by the Governor and Legislature -- state store privatization ranked dead last in that poll. There are a significant number of parents who don’t want Captain Morgan in the same grocery aisle as Captain Crunch,” he said.

Wanamaker noted a bit of irony in the fact that while the state stores are being targeted for elimination by the Governor, the state stores polled better “support” numbers than the Governor in the latest Keystone survey.

The latest poll shows that only 7% of the public had a “strong favorable” opinion of the Governor. In comparison, 24% of the public voiced a “strong favorable” opinion for the state store system. The Governor’s overall “favorable” rating was 25%; the state stores received an overall “favorable” rating of 34%.

“Unfortunately, to the detriment of all Pennsylvanians -- and his own administration -- Governor Corbett continues to expend an inordinate amount of political capital in his efforts to assist his corporate friends to appropriate revenue producing assets from the citizens of the Commonwealth and put the profits in their own pockets instead of the state treasury,” said Wanamaker.

“We believe the Governor is ill-advised to place the insatiable corporate thirst for profits from the sale of liquor over the true needs of our residents. There are a host of issues that are more deserving of the Governor’s time and focus. It is time that the Governor and the Legislature address issues of real importance to their constituents. It is time we stop worrying about Pennsylvanians’ liquor cabinets and concentrate on issues that have a real and meaningful impact on their lives -- being able to grab Canadian bacon and Canadian Club at the same time is not one of them,” Wanamaker concluded.

For more, contact David Wanamaker at 1-800-692-ISSU.

 


For Immediate Release
December 9, 2011
717-234-2568
1-800-692-4778

For Further Information Call: 
David Wanamaker
717-234-2568
1-800-692-4778

 

INDEPENDENT STATE STORE UNION DENOUNCES PLCB’S DECISION TO RUN
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT BLAMING RAPE VICTIMS
AND THEIR FRIENDS

Harrisburg, PA – With the recent drumbeat of privatization resonating throughout the halls of the Capitol in Harrisburg, the Independent State Store Union finds it regrettable that the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) has once again shown their innate ability to shoot themselves in the foot.   CEO Joe Conti and his crack staff of free enterprise privateers have once again demonstrated their complete incompetence with the now pulled so called public service announcement (PSA) on date rape and drinking.

The latest attempt at advertising with the release of this PSA is further indication of their total ineptitude.  They have made a mockery of the reality of the violence perpetrated on women and have bought into the concept of victimizing the victim.  The victim’s friends are now the accomplices while the perpetrator is given a free ride.

This is the same management crew that has given the public the ill-conceived and laughable wine vending machines, a costly and totally deficient inventory replenishment system, a cumbersome and inadequate point-of-sale system, and significantly increased administrative expenses to support an expanded and bloated management staff – endorsed by a million dollar management study – while the wine and spirits shops are grossly understaffed. 

And, in pursuit of their delusional effort as a wannabe “world class retailer,” they have also implemented multi-million dollar advertising campaigns for the promotion of alcohol sales. 

The schizophrenic model of the current PLCB Board and management is anathema to reasonable control and responsible alcohol policy.  It is high time that the PLCB return to their core function of focusing on encouraging responsible attitudes towards the promotion, sale and consumption of liquor.

The PLCB cannot continue their current zeal for marketing and promoting alcohol consumption without collateral damage yet they issue a PSA that blames the victims.  It is illustrative of how out of touch the PLCB management is with real issues of alcohol harms.

Unfortunately, the Board and management have adopted an operational philosophy which appears to be an intentional, internal sabotage of the control system to facilitate privatization efforts.   We believe this was the end game of the previous Chairman and it appears to continue under the current leadership.

We would encourage newly appointed Chairman Joseph “Skip” Brion, who we welcome with reservations considering his posture on privatization, to not merely act as a lapdog for the privatization privateers but to restore the agency to its legislatively mandated function – reasonable and responsible alcohol policy.

Absent any proactive involvement by the Chairman to clean house and restore the agency to its core mission of control and responsible alcohol policy, we would respectfully ask him to step down.  If he feels the passion and philosophy of privatization, then he should do it as a private citizen, not as a public official responsible for oversight of this public service asset.  The conflict of interest is obvious and begs an ethical question.

The persistent missteps by the PLCB Board and management have cast an unwarranted shadow over the current state store system – a system that has an illustrious record of protecting the public interest for over 77 years.  Simply put, the system isn’t the problem, the management of the system is the problem. 

Recognizing that the PLCB’s recent miscues are helping to fuel the call for privatization of the system, a former PLCB management employee compared the system to a thoroughbred that isn’t winning races and provided the following solution – “Don’t shoot the horse, change jockeys.”

For more, contact David Wanamaker at 1-800-692-ISSU.

 


 

For Immediate Release 
July 13, 2011

For Further Information Call: 
Ed Cloonan, ISSU Policy Director
717-234-2568
1-800-692-4778

 

Independent State Store Union Opposes Representative Turzai’s State Store Privatization

Harrisburg, PA - The Independent State Store Union representing state store managers across Pennsylvania opposes Representative Turzai’s bill to privatize the state store system on grounds of bad alcohol policy in addition to protecting the jobs of its membership.

Ed Cloonan, ISSU policy director says, “Pennsylvania has had for 77 years the best alcohol distribution system in the world.   The system maximizes revenues to the Commonwealth without the profit driven economic incentives to sell as much as you can whenever you can to whomever you can in convenience stores, grocery stores, drug stores and general merchandise stores.”

Cloonan continues, “Republicans and Democrats during both Republican and Democratic Administrations have resisted the effort from Governor Shapp to Governor Rendell because they, in a bipartisan way, see the merits of this system.  The Turzai bill would increase accessibility which in turn increases consumption and alcohol related problems for the drinker.  The bill will effect the drinker’s family, their friends and acquaintances in addition to victimized strangers.”

The Turzai bill creates new vested economic interests whose only financial goal is to increase consumption with increased profit.  All the moneyed special interests of newspapers seeking advertising dollars for themselves; liquor and wine companies improving their bottom line; and, would be wholesalers and retailers creating new profit centers must be weighed against the damages to Pennsylvania communities in both urban and rural Pennsylvania.

 


 

For Immediate Release 
June 21, 2011

For Further Information Call: 
David Wanamaker
717-234-2568
1-800-692-4778

 

Independent State Store Union Denounces Anti-Employee
PLCB-Sponsored Legislation

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has begun their assault on employee rights and the privatization of its workforce.  A PLCB-sponsored bill, HB 1356, part of their privatization-lite initiative, was moved out of the House Liquor Control Committee June 21, 2011.

This bill denies all future employees of any Civil Service rights and eliminates the veterans’ preference in the hiring process as currently provided by law.  Under current Civil Service rules, veterans receive a ten-point preference when testing to be hired.  This bill strips veterans of the preference rights currently guaranteed under Civil Service and permits the agency to merely consider veterans’ preference in hirings as an option – not a requirement.  This provision is a slap to the face for our proud and deserving veterans.

An amendment to HB 1356 also passed which will effectively strip current employees of Civil Service rights.  Civil Service status will only be retained by current employees as long as they remain in the same position.  Once a person takes another position, they will lose Civil Service status.

“In their lust to act as a ‘world-class retailer,’ the current management with the PLCB has denigrated all past and present employees, veteran and non-veteran alike, who have been the backbone of this government agency,” says David Wanamaker, president of the Independent State Store Union.  “Unfortunately, the House Liquor Control Committee took action in this bill without the benefit of public hearings to assess the real impacts and the far reaching implications of the proposal on current employees and veterans,” Wanamaker said.  “Hopefully, the House of Representatives will be more deliberative and thoughtful should this bill ever come before them for a vote – especially with respect to veterans’ preference and protections for workers,” he concluded.

 


 

For Immediate Release 
April 28, 2011

For Further Information Call: 
David Wanamaker
717-234-2568
1-800-692-4778

 

STATE STORE MANAGERS UNION DENOUNCE PLCB-RUBE GOLDBERG
LIQUOR VENDING MACHINES

 

Harrisburg, PA – The Independent State Store Union today denounces the PLCB-Rube Goldberg liquor wine vending machines.  No other state in the country takes a more derelict approach to alcohol policy.  “With this announcement the PLCB continues to foster a climate of increasing
consumption which is incongruent with their responsibility to establish policies intended to minimize the harms of alcohol,” says David Wanamaker, president of Independent State Store Union.

When cigarettes are no longer sold in vending machines because of accessibility by minors, the placement of liquor in vending machines is an outrageous enticement to promote the industry goal to sell more at any cost.  No machine can replace the face-to-face interaction between people in the effort to limit access by minors.  ISSU will continue to speak out against the overt, internal attempts to destroy the system with wine/liquor vending machines.
Another aspect of this “modernization” of the PLCB is its self-authored “Alternative to Privatization.”  This document is further proof at the abrogation of their social responsibility and a thinly veiled attempt to self-privatize without any oversight or regulation.

 


 

For Immediate Release 
April 13, 2011

For Further Information Call:
ISSU Office – 717-234-2568
1-800-692-4778

 

INDEPENDENT STATE STORE UNION OPPOSES PLCB CHAIRMAN STAPLETON’S
"ALTERNATIVE TO PRIVATIZATION"

 

Harrisburg, PA – The Independent State Store Union representing seven hundred state store managers opposes the plan titled “Alternative to Privatization” written by Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Chairman P.J. Stapleton.

ISSU categorically opposes the PLCB/industry legislation to initiate a frequent drinkers’ reward program that gives away free bottles of liquor and wine.  The language in the “Alternative to Privatization” document reads “get a bottle of “X” when you purchase more than $25.00.”

The PLCB/industry makes a mockery of the control system for the common good when encouraging and incentivizing people with alcohol problems to buy more and drink more.  This system is meant to protect drinkers and non-drinkers alike and their communities; not exploit them.

Civil Service employee ISSU managers have never encouraged frequent drinkers to drink more.  This explains why the PLCB wants to eliminate Civil Service state store managers and reward future employees with pay incentives to sell more liquor to customers who can earn more frequent drinker rewards.

ISSU rejects all Rube Goldberg-like wine vending kiosks in Walmart, supermarkets and  convenience stores.  These kiosks scream out to the public to privatize the state store system.

ISSU opposes the PLCB monetization proposal to sell future state store profits to investment bankers of Citibank and Bank of America as revealed by Chairman Stapleton in a recent House Appropriations Budget Hearing.

The best alcohol distribution system in the world is being destroyed from within by the PLCB with privatization-lite proposals trying to out “Walmart – Walmart” –  to hide the declining profits caused by the Oracle/ERP implementation boondoggle and massive contract cost overruns.

ISSU will continue to speak to these PLCB initiatives to destroy the best alcohol distribution system in the world.

 

 


 

(OP-ED)

Private Profits Over Public Good – Misguided Principles

RESPONSE TO GOVERNOR CORBETT’S BUDGET ADDRESS

PRIVATIZING THE STATE STORE SYSTEM

 

March 10, 2011 --- At a time when Pennsylvania is still reeling from the devastating fiscal impact of the national recession, we question the logic and motivation of Governor Corbett in calling for a task force on the privatization of the state store system. 

The dramatic reductions to program funding contained in his budget address illustrates the need for every public dollar to be spent more wisely.  The Governor reaffirmed this need when he said the state must reinvent how we spend other people’s money.

Given the Governor’s call for smarter spending, we have to question why he would propose spending even one penny of taxpayer dollars on a task force to study a system that has not cost the state one penny in over seventy-seven years.  While the Governor stated that “government will never be cost free,” our current alcohol control and distribution system is exactly that – cost free.

In fact, the current system is not only totally self-supporting, the system has generated over $481.5 million in revenue to the state budget during last year alone and provided an additional $32.3 million in funding for alcohol enforcement, drug and alcohol programs and municipal budgets. 

At a time when every elected official throughout this commonwealth is concerned with decreasing revenue and financial support necessary to maintain programs and services, it makes no sense to target for elimination an income producing system solely for the purpose of making government smaller. 

We would respectfully suggest that privatization of the state store system should not be a priority of the Corbett administration.  The recurring revenue provided by the current system -- as opposed to a one time infusion of revenue that might be provided by a sell-off -- goes further in accomplishing the Governor’s call to be better stewards of the cash that farmers and clerks and mill hands and nurses earn dollar-by-dollar than privatization would ever achieve.

If the Governor is serious about stopping “the one-time fixes and gimmicks that have barely held the machine of government together” then he and the General Assembly should focus their time and attention on other revenue generating priorities – not eliminating reliable and substantial funding sources.

We also strongly disagree with the Governor’s assessment and statement that we should get out of a business that we should never have entered – the liquor business.

First, and foremost, the state store system is not a business – it is a government agency charged with the responsible control and distribution of alcohol to promote and protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. 

The control of the sale of alcoholic beverages is a legitimate function of state government in serving the public good and the free-market assertion regarding privatization should be secondary to the public good. 

It is imperative to remember that alcohol is the most widely abused drug in the nation. 

Studies have consistently concluded that a state controlled alcohol distribution system – such as the system Pennsylvania currently has in place – reduces the harms associated with alcohol abuse by promoting the responsible distribution and consumption of alcohol.  We believe Pennsylvania has the most responsible and effective alcohol distribution system in the world and is far superior in curbing and reducing the harms associated with the irresponsible use and abuse of alcohol that occur under privatized distribution systems.

In his address, the Governor drew an interesting comparison between liquor stores, gas stations and pharmacies.  We do not believe the state should be operating gas stations; nor do we believe that gas stations should be operating liquor stores.

Alcohol is not an ordinary commodity and should not be treated as such.  It is the number one abused drug in the nation.  And, like pharmacies, it is reasonable to expect that the sale and distribution of this potentially dangerous drug be conducted in a reasonable and safe manner.  The current system of well-trained civil servants -- tested, hired, and held responsible to Civil Service rules for continued employment – provides the reasonable assurances necessary to protect the public interest.

The Governor and other politicians should stop attacking reasonable alcohol regulation in their call for smaller government; alcohol is strictly regulated because it is potentially harmful.  We see no public benefit to a system that provides for the purchase of a bottle of Captain Morgan liquor and a box of Captain Crunch cereal in the same grocery aisle.

We agree with the Governor’s assessment and proclamation that “business and its opportunities belong to the people.”  However, the sale of a potentially dangerous drug is not an opportunity – it is a public policy principle. 

If, as the Governor claims, “it’s about the principle” and “it’s time to give an account of our stewardship” then we urge Governor Corbett to reject the selfish motives of the privatization profiteers in favor of the Common Good for the Commonwealth

 

W. David Wanamaker, President
Independent State Store Union