Extra Fizz: Unions Sue to Block Liquor Law

By Erica C. Barnett December 6, 2011

Learn to trust the Fizz: Confirming a rumor we reported on last week, two unions---the United Food and Commercial Workers local 21 and the Teamsters local 174, who represent the 900-plus state liquor store and distribution workers who will lose their jobs under I-1183, the Costco-backed liquor-privatization measure---have filed suit the initiative, arguing that it violates the "single subject rule" in the state constitution. That rule, aimed at preventing lawmakers and initiative sponsors from hiding new laws inside completely unrelated legislation, stipulates that legislation must only cover one subject.

The crux of the unions' argument is that 1183 includes "many other fundamental provisions" besides to privatizing liquor sales in Washington State. Specifically, they argue that the initiative also changed the law for wine and liquor distribution, set up a private system for distribution of wine and booze, changed the ability of the state Liquor Control Board to regulate alcohol advertising; and created new franchise protections for spirits distributors.

In a statement, UFCW spokesman Tom Geiger said, “Costco"---which spent $22 million promoting 1183---"did it this way to hide the fact of these other provisions. And that is in essence the reason why the single subject rule exists. To limit the deceitfulness, it requires the advocates for an initiative to be truthful about what is and is not in the initiative.”

We have a call out to Geiger for more details on the lawsuit.

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