Satisfying America’s ‘thirst’ for work

By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Aug. 31, 2013

HAYWARD, California – The soda industry has a bad reputation when it comes to America’s health. It has been blamed for the country’s obesity epidemic. In 2012 alone, 32 beverage tax measures were proposed in the country though none passed. Last year, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed to ban large sugary drinks. On Tuesday, it was rejected by a state appeals court.

“They concluded, all of them, that blaming sugar-sweetened beverages for the obesity crisis was way off the mark,” said Chuck Finnie, spokesperson for the American Beverage Association.

The American Beverage Association and its member, PepsiCo, met with the Asian and Pacific Islander community at the PepsiCo facility in Hayward, to say that beyond the bad rep, the soda industry is actually doing America a lot of good, as it gives people stable jobs that are very much-needed in today’s tough economy.

“The wages paid annually in the state of California, coming from this industry, are $2.27 billion. The taxes that we pay to the state of California are $2.3 billion, and to the federal government, over $3.5 billion. The total economic impact in the state is over $16 billion,” added Finnie.

Pepsico has about 11,000 employees working in 62 facilities all over California. In this facility alone, there are more than 370 employees, 20% of whom are Filipino.

Manila-born Jeremy Yu began working at PepsiCo two years ago as a production supervisor. In eight months, he was promoted to maintenance supervisor.

“I feel lucky that I work with an industry that’s needed in the community. Food and beverage are not going to go away. So here at PepsiCo, you can find Filipinos working as operators, mechanics, engineers. You can see that in this company, there are a lot of opportunities given to everybody,” said Yu.

Johanna Macol, who’s also from Manila, works in the administration department at PepsiCo. She’s been part of the company for 13 years.

“I used to work for the government and I decided to change career paths and work for a private company. I’m thankful I have this job because I know it’s really tough out there. Here, we have good benefits and they treat us well. So I’m really blessed,” said Macol.

“These jobs are very solid career jobs and you’re going to find that people are very proud of our products,” added Greg Haskin, senior director of government affairs at PepsiCo.

But not everyone in America is happy with the current job situation. To address this, President Barack Obama has told lawmakers to cut corporate taxes in exchange for programs that create jobs that would not only provide decent wages, but allow workers like these to be happy and proud of where they work.

For more information, you may contact Henni Espinosa at henni_espinosa@abs-cbn.com

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