Cook County soda tax called payback for union backing
The Cook County soda tax that took effect Aug. 2 was County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's way of paying back her union supporters, according to the Illinois Republican Party.
In a press release, the GOP points to a report from Crain’s Chicago Business linking Teamsters Union Local 700 to Preckwinkle's tax via a memo on the union's new contract with the county. The union supported the new tax, which charges 1 cent per ounce of sweetened beverage, as an initiative that would promote job security for Cook County employees. The union is also a significant campaign donor to Preckwinkle, having given her campaign fund at least $68,000 over the past three and a half years, according to Crain's.
The Teamster memo noted several favorable factors in the contract, which will require final approval by the County Board. Specifically, the union highlighted payments for attending roll call, the removal of a personal time cap, a $1,200-per-person signing bonus and no increases to health care premiums. Crain’s does note that the union issued the memo to build support for the contract, potentially engendering exaggeration.
"It’s now been confirmed – Toni Preckwinkle’s punitive, universally derided soda tax was never about making the public safer or plugging a budget gap," Illinois GOP spokesman Steven Yaffe said in the press release. "It was about giving out government benefits to political supporters."