Mayor, Teamsters at odds over soda tax

June 14, 2011 3:46:37 PM PDT
Both sides of the soda tax proposal spoke up on Tuesday.

Mayor Nutter was on the campaign trail urging 8th graders at Baldi Middle School to contact City Council and pressure them to vote for taxes to offset draconian staff and program cuts facing the Philadelphia School District.

The mayor has proposed a soda tax and/or another property tax increase.

"Between now and Thursday, do me a favor. Call down to City Hall, call your member of City Council, write a note, send an e-mail," Mayor Nutter said.

The mayor is urging principals and teachers to fight for the taxes.

"We're losing a lot of people and it's not just teachers, it's also food service workers, custodial people," Baldi principal Eugene McLaughlin said.

At midday, the Teamsters circled City Hall with the trucks they use to deliver sugary soft drinks to retailers.

They locked arms with soda barons like Harold Honickman to pressure City Council to oppose the 2-cents-per-ounce sugary drink tax.

There've been big campaign contributions to members.

"This is about the children, people are trying to use the children to oppose a job killing tax on the citizens of Philadelphia," Bill Green, City Council at Large, said.

"He can't be on one industry. He can't keep singling out soda and not other industries," Danny Grace of Local 830 said.

Mayor Nutter furiously crisscrossed the city today stopping at schools upping the pressure and drawing a line in the sand.

"Folks have to make a choice, stand with the students or stand with the soda lobby. I'm standing with the students," Mayor Nutter said.

Pressure builds on City Council by the hour. By Thursday, they must come up with some consensus on taxes to further fund the schools.