SEATTLE – Councilmember Kshama Sawant (District 3, Central Seattle) congratulated the Tax Amazon movement in Seattle for having put decisive pressure on the City Council and the Mayor’s office with the demand to tax big businesses like Amazon to fund affordable housing and homeless services and address the unprecedented housing crisis in Seattle.
“Our Tax Amazon campaign this year, building on the Housing for All, Affordable Housing Alliance, and People’s Budget struggles last fall, has already demonstrated how a fighting movement can wrest victories from the political establishment. During her election campaign last year, Mayor Durkan openly opposed the Employee Hours Tax (EHT), while Amazon gave her campaign $350,000. But earlier this week, in a letter leaked to the media, Durkan has tacitly supported the EHT. Councilmember Gonzalez, who voted no on a similar bill just last November, under pressure from our movement is now co-sponsoring this legislation,” Councilmember Sawant said.
“While our fight is far from over, the introduction of this ordinance is itself a major victory for the Tax Amazon struggle and the affordable housing movement. This is only half of the $150 million/year demanded by our movement, but it would nonetheless be a historic achievement if passed. But we must be clear, big business remains fiercely opposed to the EHT, and will be looking for weaknesses in our movement to undermine the bill in any way possible, from dramatically reducing the tax down from $75 million, to cutting big loopholes in the substance of the legislation,” Sawant added.
The Councilmember continued, “It will be absolutely essential to continue building our Affordable Housing Alliance to exert pressure on the City Council over the coming months and ensure the passage of the strongest EHT we can win. That is why it is critical that hundreds of us come to the rally and public hearing on Monday April 23 at City Hall Plaza at 5:00PM,” she urged.
“While we celebrate this major step forward, there is still one month left before the legislation will be voted on. Already this legislation is only half what our movement is demanding! We will continue fighting for a $150M EHT, because that is what is needed to begin addressing the scale of the housing crisis in our city, and because big businesses can certainly afford to pay – it is pocket change to Amazon.
“I congratulate our movement on pushing the needle so far on this issue in such a short amount of time – just last fall, the majority of the City Council had no intention of passing a tax on big business. In a matter of months, an organized campaign of hundreds of activists has managed to force it into the spotlight, and now we appear to be poised to win the biggest concrete housing victory in Seattle in decades,” Sawant said.
“Not only would the likely passage of an EHT in Seattle allow us to build hundreds of units of affordable housing per year and raise the confidence of the local left and housing movement, it could very well have a ripple effect to other cities, like our victory on the $15/hour minimum wage. Already, our struggle has caught the attention of working people in the cities that have been “short-listed” for Amazon’s HQ2. The housing crisis is a national phenomenon, and the bold socialist policies we are fighting for here in Seattle will be of great interest to housing activists nationwide,” the Councilmember added.