The workers decided they wanted to withdraw as a group from Pepsi’s health plan, so Martucci began shopping for a new one. A dozen insurers were interested in the Teamsters’ business, but they wouldn’t provide quotes without seeing a history of employee health claims to get a sense of the costs they could expect. Martucci says Pepsi-Co failed to turn over everything the Teamsters requested, citing health-care privacy laws. “We have always been willing to provide the unions with as much information as possible,” says Dave DeCecco, a PepsiCo spokesman. Martucci filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board last fall alleging that the company violated its contract with the Teamsters. A spokesman for the NLRB says it’s trying to negotiate a settlement.
PepsiCo opposes so-called sin taxes when it comes to levying them on its own products—an idea Congress floated in 2009 as a way to pay for health-care reform. Thirty states introduced legislation for soda taxes meant to improve residents’ health and close budget gaps. PepsiCo spent at least $17 million on lobbying and advertising to battle the proposals from 2009 to 2011, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington advocacy group. In the end, none of the taxes passed. “Most rational people understand that one product is not the cause of obesity,” says DeCecco. “It’s caused by a multitude of factors.”