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Solidarity letter from Councilmember Sawant to City workers: Let’s organize and fight Durkan’s austerity program!

June 25, 2020

Dear fellow City of Seattle workers: 

Democratic establishment Mayor Jenny Durkan’s administration has just revealed that they are doubling down on their COVID austerity plan, demanding more cuts in City services and and thrusting the burden on City workers, all while protecting Amazon and other big businesses from taxation. 

On Wednesday, Mayor Jenny Durkan’s budget director said massive layoffs and concessions by city workers are “unavoidable.”

That is absolutely dishonest and unconscionable. In a city as wealthy as Seattle, there is no excuse for the cost of the recession to be forced on working people and those who are in most need of public services.

As an elected representative of Seattle’s working people, a rank-and-file public-sector union member, and a member of Socialist Alternative, I want you to know that my Council office stands with you in the fight against budget cuts. Public workers are on the frontlines of the COVID crisis, and the last thing you deserve is to be told by Mayor Durkan to sacrifice more – while big business continues to skate free. Working with you and our People’s Budget and Tax Amazon movements, we will fight for services for Seattle’s working people, and for protection of our jobs and standards. 

Most immediately, I urge you to join us at an organizing meeting of public-sector workers July 8 at 6PM, where we will discuss steps to fight the mayor’s austerity policy.

On Wednesday, City Budget Office director Ben Noble revealed what we suspected all along: In this COVID crisis, Mayor Durkan wants working people, including City workers, to sacrifice yet more, while maintaining a tax haven in our city for Amazon and other big businesses.

Noble said that this year, the City of Seattle is facing a $300 million shortfall in revenue, and in 2021 expects a shortfall of $293 million. (You can see his full presentation here.

The mayor’s solution to this budget problem?

  • No taxes on big businesses, even though Amazon and other corporations have become pandemic profiteers in this crisis. 
  • Deep cuts in services to working people.
  • Postponement or cancellation of urgently-needed infrastructure projects.
  • Hiring freezes and departmental cuts – everything from reduced training and supplies to hours cuts.
  • Layoffs and other massive concessions from city workers, which Durkan’s budget director called “unavoidable.”

This is the cruel logic of capitalism and those who defend this system: Protect the profits of big business while demanding never-ending sacrifices by working people. 

We know we have to organize in order to fight back against Durkan’s shameful austerity plan. Austerity is not “unavoidable.” We can fight back – and win. But we will have to organize.

Join me at the community meeting at 9AM on July 1st as our movement demands that City Council:

  • immediately pass our Amazon tax, but with an increased tax rate on big business to provide sufficient funds to protect city programs and jobs;
  • cut in half the bloated $409 million Seattle Police Department budget, which has ballooned a staggering 42% in just the last six years, and redirect the money toward human services, restorative justice, counseling, youth recreation, and other community-building programs.

The choice is clear: Seattle can continue on the path of austerity, which will only deepen the suffering of working people, or fund human needs by taxing big business and redirecting the police budget toward community services.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office, kshama.sawant@seattle.gov, with your ideas about how we can fight back and join with me at July 1st at 9AM and then at the public-sector workers’ organizing meeting on July 8th at 6PM.

In solidarity,

Councilmember Kshama Sawant

Member, AFT Local 1789

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