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Councilmember Sawant Celebrates Historic Victory of the Tax Amazon Movement

“Jeff Bezos, we are coming for you, for you and your billionaire friends, here and everywhere.”

Councilmember Kshama Sawant (District 3, Central Seattle), chair of the Council’s Sustainability and Renters Rights Committee, today issued the following statement in celebration of the victory of the Tax Amazon movement, and her office, in their success in passing Tax Amazon legislation.

“Today’s vote to pass an Amazon Tax in Seattle is a historic victory for working people. We should be clear, the only reason an Amazon tax was passed today in this budget committee is because of the strength of our movement, a movement that wouldn’t give up and that was willing to smash all obstacles from big business.

“The Tax Amazon movement marched, rallied, and held mass democratic organizing conferences where hundreds of volunteers voted on our strategy, and created the credible threat of a $300 million Amazon Tax ballot initiative, forcing the city establishment to act.”

“The legitimacy of the status quo has been utterly smashed by the nationwide protest movement, the pandemic, and the deepening crisis of capitalism. In Seattle, Tax Amazon was widely taken up at the Justice for George Floyd protests with more than 20,000 protestors signing in 20 days in support of Tax Amazon. And Tax Amazon volunteers, without paid signature gatherers, have now gathered a total of 27000 signatures in just one month to put a $300 million Amazon Tax on the ballot, proving the massive public support.

“The Tax Amazon movement didn’t relent when Bezos bullied the City Council in 2018 leading to the shameful repeal of that Amazon Tax by the majority of the Council. We didn’t back down when Bezos attempted a hostile takeover of our City Council last year, and handed him a massive defeat. We didn’t relent when corporate Democrats in the State Legislature attempted to create a ban on big business taxes in cities to block our movement, and didn’t relent when the corporate media went on an all out assault against our Tax Amazon movement. Our movement didn’t slow down when the pandemic and recession hit in full force and made face-to-face activity almost impossible for many weeks. We did not stop when we faced unfounded delays in this City Council.

“This victory had everything to do with the huge sacrifices of thousands of people, of their time and energy over these past months, and indeed years, in this fight to begin to end Seattle’s corporate tax haven and make big business pay, not working people. This victory had everything to do with working-class solidarity against racism, against oppression, and against economic injustice. It is because of the unity of workers, the oppressed, labor organizations, progressive community organizations, and socialist organizations in this fight. While we did not win everything that we need – this Amazon Tax is less than half of the $500 million our movement is fighting for – today’s victory is the greatest progressive big business tax measure to fund our communities in recent Seattle history. 

“As we have seen again and again since I was first elected in 2013, what is won or not won in the Seattle City Council is based entirely on the strength of our movements – on the balance of power between the working class and the ruling class. 

“We will do everything we can to spread our movement. Our rallying cry everywhere must be: ‘No to austerity under this pandemic and recession! Tax Amazon and big business, not working people!’ We must build on this rebellion against the ruling class as we did with the victory on the $15 minimum wage, to make it a national and global fight.

“Jeff Bezos, we are coming for you, for you and your billionaire friends, here and everywhere.

“In this struggle, we were clear-eyed about naming the real power pulling the strings in Seattle, Amazon.  Many argued that we should not ‘antagonize’ big business and instead try to broker a deal, but we know that our power comes from the self organization of the working class, not from negotiation with the elite.

“We are coming to dismantle this deeply oppressive, racist, sexist, utterly bankrupt system of capitalism. We cannot and will not stop until it is dismantled, and we replace it with a socialist world, based on solidarity, genuine democracy, and equality.”

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