Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Wal-Mart outsourcing security issue could make Democrats ‘natural allies’ in whiskey and Wheaties fight

in Peter/Top Headlines by

Chinese philosopher-general Sun Tzu once wrote: “Know your enemy and know yourself, and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.”

This could also be valuable advice for Florida unions and Democrats — pick your battles wisely.

The recent dust-up between unions and Wal-Mart over outsourcing security in Florida could impact another upcoming fight in the 2017 Legislative Session – the effort to tear down the wall of separation between groceries and liquor stores.

Recently, the Tampa Bay Times estimated law enforcement in four Florida counties logged nearly 17,000 calls to the retailing giant in a single year. In the Indiana town of Beach Grove, city officials declared Wal-Mart a public nuisance after more than 1,000 police calls were made in the last two years.

As union representatives protest Wal-Mart’s offshore and security costs, tying it to the fight for a $15 minimum wage, the campaign could become a natural fit with the effort in Tallahassee to keep grocery stores and liquor sales separate.

Florida Businesses Unite is an alliance of retailers like ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, Publix and the Florida Independent Spirits Association. The organization believes there is no need (or desire) to tear down the wall of separation, and, if passed, could negatively impact Florida businesses.

Those union activists seeking to influence one of their No. 1 priorities is essentially a food fight without a constituency calling for it.

But if that should happen, Democrats could become natural allies in the effort to block SB 106, the proposed “whiskey and Wheaties” legislation to repeal a state law requiring grocery chains and big-box retailers like Wal-Mart to have separate stores to sell liquor.

With this constituency rising to fight them, if they catch wind of their priority in Tallahassee, do they take this fight to Tallahassee?”

Florida Businesses Unite likely feels the effort to repeal the wall of separation between groceries and liquor – much like Wal-Mart’s leaning on local law enforcement for its security – is just another example of out-of-state retailers attempting to influence Florida law.

And then fight against both issues could be a battle Democrats and unions would be wise to take up.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

Latest from Peter

Go to Top