Thank God California Teamsters Are Here to Save Us!

What is happening with the California Teamsters, are they finding religion on DTC shipping for spirits producers! Roughly three weeks ago, the Teamster had one of its members write a passionate plea about the ills of DTC spirits shipping, everything from the small retailer getting hurt to increased underage access for minors. They just couldn’t stomach the societal pain of DTC shipping and would need to defeat it. We were all so lucky that the Teamsters’ impassioned pleas were defending society from the evil devil’s rum getting DTC shipped to consumers.

But wow how times have changed in a short period. Exactly three weeks after the impassioned plea warning the California public about the evils of DTC shipping, the California Teamsters are doing an about face and now are tweeting their support for SB 620, which would allow DTC shipping for distilleries.

On January 31, 2021 their tweet read:

“Thank you to @BenAllenCA and @BillDoddCA for accepting SB 620 amendments that address all of our concerns. When the amendments go into print, we will be supporting the bill.”

Another tweet read:

“As amended, SB 620 will create a narrow direct-to-consumer privilege for craft distillers only. The bill will also require delivery by a common carrier utilizing an employee to make the delivery. Employee status is essential for compliance and safety.”

One must ask what has happened during that three-week time? And why are the Teamsters now supporting SB 620 and its amendments? Aren’t they concerned about the issues they wrote about in their impassioned plea, mainly that DTC shipping would threaten jobs and ignore real public health and safety concerns such as underage access to alcohol? And they seem all the sudden to be going from savior to letting us down!

But not to worry everyone the Teamsters are still on the side of good, because it seems like the Teamsters utilized their political muscle to narrow the scope of the bill. Instead of opening up the DTC market and allowing greater consumer choice, the Teamsters have done enough to limit the law to small craft distillers. And by limiting DTC to small craft distillers, they saved California citizens from the Leviathan large liquor producers, who through DTC shipping would cause moral upheaval and threaten everyone’s jobs!

I guess my question is this to the Teamsters, so did all of society’s ills become solved now through their new but yet to be unveiled amendments?

Are small mom and pop retailers not going to be hurt because the state allows only craft distillers to DTC ship, and will underage access issues stop because only craft distillers can ship?

I commend the Teamsters for moving out of their hard position, well maybe they were forced to and this is the best compromise they can get. But maybe they have a reason for excluding larger producers and limiting DTC shipping only to the craft distilleries. So let’s see what they say:

“Large liquor companies don’t have families or children here, and they aren’t concerned with preventing underage drinking the same way local community members are. SB 620 directly increases the likelihood of underage access, with little to no age verification. When direct-to-consumer sales do try to verify age, they are only successful half of the time.”

Okay, understood, they are right, large companies may not have families in California and out-of-state craft distilleries may not have families either in the state. So is it a family in the state issue, if so, I am not so sure the Teamsters limiting amendments will have any effect on underage drinking!

Let’s tackle the increases in likelihood of underage access from larger producers. The Teamsters believe that DTC shipping increases the likelihood of underage sales. But what is most interesting is that the largest failure rate for underage compliance was uber eats deliveries, which flunked at an 80% rate. [1] Again, we shouldn’t worry as all these sales went through the three-tier system.

Sorry, let’s focus on the Teamsters’ words, to paraphrase large companies shipping will lead to an increase in underage access.

Did the Teamsters provide evidence that the larger the company, the more they are likely to ship to underage consumers?

So, again I will ask the Teamsters, does imposing these Amendments into the law and limiting DTC to small producers cure your evils of underage access?

In the end, the Teamsters’ position from the start was never about protecting minors and small businesses, it was about protecting an economic interest through limiting competition. By opening up the markets to increased competition and a greater variety of products in the marketplace, society is not getting damaged. Wine has been shipped for over 17 years across the U.S. and the supposed evils of DTC have not caused a mass layoff of jobs and significantly increased underage drinking.

Thanks for playing savior Teamsters, just explain to us how exactly your saving us works?