Tuesday, March 19, 2013

YES! Amended HB790 would end police-enforced monopoly!

Check out the sidebar list in Brad Bumsted's piece in this morning's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on the newly amended HB 790. It's got a lot of good stuff, but down at the bottom is this little nugget: Criminal penalties eliminated for bringing booze in from other states.

YES! That is the end of the Police-Enforced Monopoly, and that is something we've wanted for years. It is a component of true privatization; the recognition that "competition" is meaningless in an arena of full or partial monopoly. It is an end to the unAmerican restrictions on Pennsylvanians' booze-buying freedom, it is a gust of freeing air. It is a triumph for US, people: this is a topic WE made happen.

So...win this. YOU need to call or email -- or both -- YOUR representative this week -- especially if your rep is a Republican -- and tell them you WANT liquor store privatization, you WANT HB 790 to pass, and that this IS a voting booth priority for you. Pass the word, get your friends and family to send in support; this is one time we have to try to match the union. Get on it!

The House Republicans have given us a shot at booze freedom; we have to let them know we want it!


Anonymous said...

Hey Lew, LCB employee here. I'm not posting to lament my possibly impending unemployed status, but rather to ask a question since you're more cognizant of the facts of privatization than just about anyone else I know.
Since the state refuses to relinquish the 18% emergency tax, how narrow of a profit margin are the licensees going to have to operate with? I believe the state has a flat 30% markup on every item (and compared to Delaware, that can sometimes be the difference in price between PA and DE). I think that as long as that emergency tax exists, PA license-holders will continue to have to charge higher prices than surrounding states, even with loss-leaders. Now, if I were a person who could afford such a license, I'd have to be asking myself why I'd bother (unless I were a grocery store or wal-mart seeking wine and beer as a draw). I think they're going to have to drop the fees down much further. Your pinata metaphor is very accurate, and I hope this process doesn't end up with PA being compared to WA.

Lew Bryson said...

Thanks for checking in. Best of luck, truly.

The tax is not going to go away, it's just that simple. And if they keep the tax, that's going to be a built-in advantage for Delaware, sure. The PLCB's 30% mark-up is going to be adjusted by private stores, for sure; they can make the mark-up whatever they want, but they still have to make money. That's the situation New Jersey stores are in. But...it's not just price. It's selection -- and Total kicks your ass, no matter what Joe Conti says -- and, sorry, but it's service, too; it's more than enough to drive people miles away to buy. My dad used to drive 35 miles to Maryland to buy wine; the State Store clerks annoyed him, and they didn't have the wine he liked. Private stores will have the selection, or will get it, and the clerks, from my wide experience, are much more helpful.

It's not the retail fees/licenses that are so expensive (keep in mind that it's just an up-front fee; the annual renewal is actually quite low), it's the wholesale chunk. They're looking to squeeze a LOT out of wholesale, and that's gonna cost us.

The problem is that they've sold this on the "windfall," which is a lot of bullshit. There IS no windfall that doesn't come out of our pockets. Money doesn't just fall out of the sky...like from a piñata.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone with a shred of sense would try to deny the fact that Total Wine and More has several times more SKU's (which is why Conti did exactly that.) I have to admit that if they do privatize, I will derive a bit of satisfaction to see some of my fellow state store clerks going down with me. Especially the ones who gripe to me when I let someone in the door right at closing time (I'm a manager), or the ones who don't like the way someone "tosses" their ID on the counter. I will say this, though, even if it's irrelevant: there ARE plenty of us who appreciate our jobs, and I think what we're going to see is an current LCB employee exodus during the transition. Bad, rude clerks will leave the business altogether because they're unappreciative of the customer base that supports them and who refuse to learn even a little bit about the products they sell. But I think many others will leave as well, including people like me (who do our best within the constraints). It's not because of the pay difference (though I don't know what that difference would be), but because I'm getting so bitter and weary of being caught in this battle, while my "superiors" don't have to face the customers that are inconvenienced when I can't get a sale item into the store due to the warehouse being out of stock.
If privatization does happen in PA, a part of me will be saddened to have to start over, but another part will be more than a little relieved to be liberated from a job most Pennsylvanians don't support.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous i am a manager to and agree a lot of these people who work for the plcb are leeches and while a part of me to will be saddened to leave a another part will be happy that this system will be gone because of all the crappy people inside of this system that took advantage of it for the past 35 years.. privatize privatize its the best thing that they could do..

Anonymous said...

Thank you Lew for all your hard work and long hours i pray that it pays off, i did my part and talked to several senators and reps and told them a few stories about different people in this system that got away with shit and now its time to pay the piper, i changed their votes for privatizion, i hope it helps.. for truth and justice for all

Anonymous said...

To add to my last comment I did tell them about a few good people in the system.....