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Soda Execs and Teamsters Protest NY Tax

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Executives from Coke and Pepsi are joining Teamsters and grocery store owners to oppose a proposed New York soda tax.

Bill Wilson, of Pepsi, demonstrated on the steps of City Hall yesterday against the so-called "obesity tax." He called it "the ultimate veiled money grab."

"And we've always felt that to answer the consumer's social needs, it made a hell of a lot more sense to innovate versus tax the people," Wilson said.

The Teamsters are also opposed to the tax. The union, which represents bottling and distribution workers, fears the tax would discourage people from drinking soda and therefore destroy their members' livelihoods.

"I mean, how could you put another tax on people that are out of work?" said Victor Ryder, who also attended the City Hall rally yesterday. Ryder is the foreman at a Coke bottling plant in College Point Queens.

Healthcare workers support the proposed tax, saying it will raise revenue and save hospital jobs. New York's governor, David Paterson, believes the tax could bring in half a billion dollars this fiscal year, and twice that much next year. Paterson also says that it would make New York healthier.

The New York State Senate and Assembly have not included the soda tax in their budget plans. But opponents fear it could come back during budget negotiations.