It’s happening again: the beverage industry, which has been out for blood on Philadelphia’s soda tax since its inception last June, is blaming the levy for lost jobs. This time it is beverage giant Coca-Cola, which blames forty lost jobs on the sweetened beverage tax in the City of Brotherly Love.
Fran McGorry, president and general manager of Philly Coke, the local Coca-Cola bottler, told Philly.com that there has been a 32 percent dropoff in sales since the soda tax was implemented. She said that the job losses did not come from layoffs, but from commissioned employees leaving their jobs due to plummeting sales. She also said that Coke would not be doing any seasonal summer hiring this year due to dipping profits.
Philadelphia implemented a 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on all sweetened beverages (soda, diet soda, artificially-sweetened juices and milks, sweet teas, flavored waters, etc.) back at the beginning of January this year. The move raised prices on sodas and other drinks drastically, even though the tax is at the distributor level. Mayor Jim Kenney initiated and backed the tax, which funds pre-kindergarten education, as well as community centers and schools.
This, as I said earlier, is not the first accusation the city has faced of the soda tax killing jobs. Pepsi dramatically declared a couple of months ago that it would have to layoff between 80 and 100 employees due to the levy. Interestingly enough, when Philly.com reached out to Pepsi to ask if the cuts had taken place, the answer was that discussions with the union were ongoing and that nobody would lose their job for at least a few months.
Meanwhile, Mayor Kenney continues to disregard the ire of the beverage industry and shrug off the threats of even more lawsuits. The pre-kindergarten initiative that is being funded by the soda tax, he pointed out, has already created over 250 jobs. In other words, this tax is not a job-killer.