CHICAGO – In November of 2016, the Cook County Board of Commissioners passed a penny-per-ounce tax on sports drinks, juices, teas and even low and no calories beverages set to be imposed on July 1, 2017. A broad coalition of small businesses, retail shops, consumers and employees warned of significant job losses and higher consumer costs at the time and now these predictions are coming to pass in Philadelphia where a similar tax has already gone into effect.
“Our members repeatedly warned the Cook County Board that many people would lose their jobs as a result of this onerous beverage tax, said John Coli Jr., President of Local 727. “We certainly don’t want a repeat of what has happened in Philadelphia and call on the county to repeal or avoid the tax,” added Coli.
Philadelphia's 1.5 cent beverage tax is already impacting jobs with both consumers and businesses suffering the consequences. Beverage sales have dropped 30 to 50 percent as consumers leave the City of Philadelphia to do their shopping. Retailers have already announced several hundred job cuts and reduced hours for retained employers. Just yesterday, Pepsi announced it will be laying off 80-100 Philadelphia workers as a result of the beverage tax. Retail stores, grocery and restaurant workers and families are all paying a steep price.
“The beverage industry touches nearly 48,490 good-paying jobs across Illinois, many in Cook County. These are real jobs held by real people in manufacturing, distribution, retail and restaurants,” stated Claudia Rodriguez, Acting Executive Director for the Illinois Beverage Association. “Conservative economic impact estimates predict more than 6,000 Cook County jobs could be affected. But if sales are reduced at the rate they have been in Philadelphia, the cuts could be even worse. Lost sales cost jobs and hurt small businesses,” added Rodriguez.
With Cook County being considerably larger than Philadelphia the effects of a beverage tax will be even larger and disastrous for the local economy.
While the beverage tax won’t be imposed until July 1st – a broad coalition of consumers, retailers, employees, restaurants and other small business are urging the County to act now to repeal the Cook County beverage tax and avoid a similar economic crisis from reaching local families and small businesses.