Fighting the Beverage Tax: Several Important Victories, and a Press Release

May 31, 2017

This morning, we were back at City Hall to attend the Seattle City Council meeting, just as we have been for every meeting where the Beverage Tax was on the agenda. At this meeting, the Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods, and Finance Committee took public comment on the proposed Beverage Tax, and then voted on several amendments to the bill before eventually taking a vote on whether or not the bill should move forward to the full Council for an up-or-down vote.

The core group that has attended nearly every Council meeting since the Beverage Tax was proposed

While the proposal did successfully move past the Committee and will be voted on by the full Council next week, we are pleased to announce that because of the incredible efforts of our Local 174 members in the beverage industry, and the lobbying efforts of our beverage industry Teamster Business Agents, some important changes have been made to the bill that will make it far less harmful to our members.

Those changes include:

  1. The removal of diet soda from the tax, which should help to decrease the number of jobs that are lost as a result of this tax; and
  2. The addition of $1.5 million in funds to put towards worker retraining programs to assist those that lose their jobs as a result of this tax.

Now obviously, the number of jobs that we are comfortable with losing is ZERO — a position that we have repeatedly made clear. However, the amended proposal is a massive leap forward from its original version, which included both regular and diet soda, and did not contain one word about what would be done to help the people who lose their jobs because of this tax.

It was disappointing that the majority of the Council acknowledged but was willing to disregard the inequity in this tax, but Local 174 was successful in scoring some major victories for our members.

The Council members, specifically Committee Chair Tim Burgess and Council member Mike O’Brien, repeatedly cited the testimony and public comments given by our Teamsters Local 174 members —  JR Noa, Luke Vaule, Anthony Brown, and Adam Murphy — in backing up their decisions to amend the bill to include these worker protections.

Fantastic teamwork from a fantastic team. Local 174 leads the way yet again!

Coca-Cola Teamster JR Noa signs in to speak at the City Council May 26, 2017


Columbia Distributing Teamster Adam Murphy testifies before the Council on May 26, 2017


Coca-Cola Teamster JR Noa testifies before the Council on May 26, 2017


Coca-Cola Teamster Luke Vaule testifies before the Council on May 31, 2017


PepsiCo Teamster Anthony Brown testifies before the Council on May 31, 2017


The full Council will vote on the proposal on Monday, June 5, 2017 at 2:00PM.

Meanwhile, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce has also joined in opposition to this proposed tax. Below is a joint press release from the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber and the Martin Luther King County Labor Council opposing the proposed sweetened beverage tax. It contains a quote from Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer and Teamsters Joint Council 28 President Rick Hicks.

Thank you to everyone for your continued support on this issue! We may lose this battle, but we will fight to protect our members the whole way down.


May 31, 2017


Business, labor leaders agree that tax will harm local economy

SEATTLE, Washington (May 30) – Leaders of the Martin Luther King County Labor Council and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce today issued a joint statement urging the Seattle City Council to shelve plans to impose a tax on sweetened beverages that will wreak economic harm on small businesses and working families alike. The joint statement follows steps that both organizations took separately earlier this month to formally oppose the tax.

On May 11, the Board of Trustees of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce voted to oppose the proposed 1.75-cents per ounce sweetened beverage tax after carefully evaluating the measure and concluding that the City has not demonstrated how the new stream of revenue would be efficiently spent to drive effective outcomes. The tax would also create a declining revenue source—as consumption of sugary beverages is already on the decline in Seattle—creating an undependable funding mechanism for important programs.

“While the intention of improving education and health outcomes for the city is important to the Chamber and our members, this tax proposal does not provide a clear and effective solution for achieving those goals, and has a disproportionate impact on small businesses.” said Seattle Metro Chamber President and CEO Maud Daudon.

Meanwhile, on May 17, Teamsters Local 174 presented a Resolution before the Martin Luther King County Labor Council urging them to “Beware of the Beverage Tax: It is not what it seems.” The Resolution, which demanded that any beverage tax proposal include measures to address the negative impact on working families, was passed by the Council in a unanimous vote of the delegates.

“In recent years, beverage taxes have become more and more attractive as potential revenue sources for cities and municipalities across the United States, including in the City of Seattle,” said Teamster Joint Council 28 President Rick Hicks. “However, these taxes have been shown time and time again to be destroyers of good jobs in the beverage industry and other related industries. Despite mounting evidence of this, beverage tax proponents have consistently failed to consider the adverse impacts these taxes have on the thousands of Union members who produce, warehouse, and deliver these products.”


The Martin Luther King County Labor Council, AFL-CIO, (MLKCLC) is the central body of labor organizations in King County, Washington. The MLKCLC is affiliated with the national AFL-CIO, the central labor organization in the United States, which represents more than 13 million working people. Over 125 organizations are affiliated with the MLKCLC, and more than 75,000 working men and women belong to Council-affiliated organizations. Not only does the MLKCLC support labor organizations, but it acts as a voice for the interests and needs of the working people in King County, WA. For more information, visit


The Seattle Metropolitan (Seattle Metro) Chamber of Commerce engages the innovation and entrepreneurship of its 2,200 members to advance economic prosperity, advocate for a vital business environment, and build sustainable and healthy communities in the Seattle region. Founded in 1882 by local business leaders, the Chamber today is an independent organization representing a regional workforce of approximately 700,000 people. For more information visit


  • L. King County Labor Council – Jamie Fleming, Teamsters Local #174, (206) 441-6060
  • Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce – Alicia Teel, (206) 389-7262