Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is asking the Cook County Board of Commissioners to vote “yes” this Thursday, Nov. 10 on a proposed penny-per-ounce tax of sugar for artificially sweetened drinks. This beverage tax increase would generate the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to fill a Cook County budget void that will eliminate hundreds of county jobs if it is not replenished within the next fiscal year.
In a previous interview with the Chicago Tribune, Preckwinkle said without the new revenue, the county would have to cut more than 1,300 public safety jobs over the next three years, including 670 positions next year alone.
“Teamsters Local 700 is undeniably in favor of the proposed beverage tax, as it will guarantee job security for hundreds of people that work in Cook County,” said Teamsters Local 700 President Becky Strzechowski. “Without this tax revenue, the budget will face detrimental effects, including future layoffs of our own Local 700 county members.”
If approved, the proposed beverage tax would kick in on July 1, 2017 and is slated to raise a total of $180 million in revenue through 2020.
“As an affiliate of Joint Council 25, we have union brothers and sisters in the beverage industry that could also be affected by this tax, so we find ourselves on both sides of this fight,” said President Strzechowski. “However, Local 700 is lucky to have a champion of labor on our side – Commissioner Luis Arroyo, Jr. – who, in his short time on the Cook County Board, has already saved hundreds of county jobs.”
A Teamster for 20 years, Luis worked for the City of Chicago before he took on his new role as commissioner. Last year, the Cook County commissioners approved a document storage fee increase of $10 per transaction, which created enough revenue to support operational costs at the Clerk’s office and avoided layoffs of nearly 80 Local 700 members. Preckwinkle had proposed the increase and said it would generate an additional $4.9 million for the Clerk’s budget.
“Like many government agencies, the county is faced with fiscal challenges and we are looking to the leadership of Commissioner Arroyo and the other commissioners to once again protect the county workers,” said President Strzechowski. “Commissioner Arroyo has been, and always will be, a friend to Local 700 and we know how much he cares about his union brothers and sisters.”