Point Austin: Beside the Point
Although the council postponed action on most major items, last Thursday's meeting was not without moments of drama. A proposed five-year, sole-supplier contract with Pepsi for city buildings was pulled from the consent agenda, for several reasons, but mostly because the Central Labor Council wanted to speak against the local bottler's handling of two years of ongoing labor negotiations with drivers who want a union contract. CLC President Louis Malfaro told the council that the National Labor Relations Board had confirmed seven complaints of unfair labor practices against the local company; Pepsi sales manager Jim Head responded that the company has treated the workers well but negotiations are deadlocked on a few issues. In sum, Malfaro said, "We're not asking you to spike the deal. What we are concerned about is this: We don't want our tax dollars being offered to a company in an exclusive arrangement, a company who is dealing in bad faith with Austin workers and with Austin citizens." In the end, the council agreed to a six-week delay for the parties to continue negotiating while council continues its contract review. The high point of the discussion came not over the labor question, but after Mayor Wynn asked a company rep about Pepsi's local market share and was greeted instead with a sales pitch. Wynn told him brusquely to sit down, adding, "And our citizens don't get fit by drinking a lot of Dr Peppers, Cokes, or Pepsis!" That's telling 'em, Your Healthiest.