PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Days after the kick-off of a campaign to repeal Philadelphia’s sweetened beverage tax, soda giant Pepsi has announced layoffs, due to declining sales it blames on the tax.
Reaction has been swift from both sides of the debate.
For local Teamsters secretary-treasurer Danny Grace, Pepsi’s announcement of 80 to 100 lay-offs at three area plants is his prediction come true.
“Eventually this would catch up with us. The loss in sales dictates a loss in jobs. The company cannot withstand the losses they are getting,” said Grace.
But to Mayor Jim Kenney, the announcement is a “new low” in the soda industry’s pushback against the tax, “holding the jobs of hardworking people hostage” in the process, according to a statement, which adds “Philadelphians should be skeptical that the lay-offs are the result of the tax.”
Meanwhile, the education office announced universal pre-K, paid for with the revenue from the tax, has created 250 jobs. That, of course, does little for Grace’s members.
“I was always for pre-K but I don’t think it was right of the mayor to tax one industry against all others,” said Grace.
“This isn’t something we take lightly or want to do, and we are committed to working with our employees and the union to treat impacted individuals with the care and dignity they deserve,” said Pepsi in a statement.
The city reported, last week, the one-and-a-half cents an ounce tax raised nearly six million dollars in its first month.