The last thing Windy City families need is another tax at the grocery store checkout. Yet Chicago Alderman George Cardenas recently proposed a discriminatory tax on beverages that would hike prices on common grocery items such as juices, teas and sodas.
Today, the Chicago Coalition Against Beverage Taxes announced its intent to fight the proposed tax, which it says will cost jobs as well as raise grocery bills on families who can least afford it. The coalition is made up of more than 1,000 Chicago families, small businesses, labor unions, chambers of commerce and community organizations.
John Coli, president of Teamsters Joint Council 25 and honorary co-chairman of the Chicago Coalition Against Beverage Taxes, understands what a tax would mean for members of his union.
“There are 1,400 union employees in Chicago whose livelihoods are directly or indirectly dependent upon the non-alcoholic beverage industry,” he said. “Additionally, there are nearly 40,000 small business owners and their hard-working employees who could face layoffs should our aldermen add another tax to the cost of these product.”
Chicago already taxes soda, and the proposed penny-per-ounce tax on syrup would raise the cost of a 12-pack of soda by an additional $1.44.
Cardenas has proposed this tax before and it failed because hard-working Chicagoans are tired of having their grocery bills raised by lawmakers. Polls show that nationwide Americans oppose beverages taxes by as much as 62 percent.
The non-alcoholic beverage industry is a significant contributor to the Illinois economy, and that benefit would be threatened by a tax. Beverage companies provide more than 7,500 well-paying jobs, $610 million in wages and $1.5 billion in state and federal taxes every year. That’s a direct economic impact of $5.2 billion in Illinois.
Other business sectors and their employees benefit from the industry too. More than 114,000 workers in restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, movie theaters and more depend in part on beverage sales for their livelihoods.
Chicago is still recovering from one of the worst economic downturns in our nation’s history. Chicago businesses, workers and families don’t want prices raised on common grocery items and they don’t want jobs put at risk in this economic climate by a beverage tax. Join the coalition today at www.noillinoisbeveragetax.com.