One day after an open letter from more than 100 Seattle area business leader to the Seattle City Council in opposition to the proposed head tax was published, a group of several local unions has sent a letter in support of the legislation.
Read the full letter below, and learn more about the proposed tax on businesses to fund affordable housing and homelessness services here.
Re: Support for Progressive Tax on Business
We write today in strong support of the proposed progressive tax on businesses to address thehomelessness crisis in our city.
This is a moral imperative: Seattle is the third-ranked city for number of citizens experiencing homelessness in the country. We have watched councilmembers grapple with this issue for several years, and are heartened to see our leaders prepared to put serious new resources toward dealing with this increasing problem. We need new housing, and we need new workforce investments so the frontline professionals can move beyond inadequate wages as they support our city’s efforts to house and address the underlying causes of this crisis.
Addressing homelessness is important for all residents of this city. It is an unfathomable trauma for those experiencing it and it takes a toll on our public health and safety services as well as our civic identity. But there is a vital second importance to this proposal.
Last fall the Seattle City Council made a commitment that it would pursue a progressive new revenue stream for this issue—this leadership is critically important to our collective memberships. Our members have supported, endorsed, and most importantly paid for taxes on themselves for infrastructure, transit, housing, education, public safety, and more. But we cannot continue to have our members and working families like ours be the only option to provide for the common good. As the most regressive taxation system in the country, we should have ample room to work toward shared responsibility by ensuring corporations and the wealthy also participate in our civic life in the most fundamental of ways: paying appropriate taxes.
We applaud the council members and task force participants who pursued this work seriously over the course of many months, knowing that big corporate interests would come in at the last moment with threats not backed by facts or civicminded values but that played to fear.
As leaders of the labor movement, we support you. Across multiple industries we know how successful partnership can be with employers when they understand that the shared good is in their interest, too. But we also know the difference between a partner and an adversary. In Seattle in particular we have seen the adversarial side of our business community as we have worked on proposals that address the imbalance of economic opportunity and voice at work. We saw them again and again attempt to put up roadblocks as Seattle led the nation in efforts to address paid sick and safe leave, the minimum wage, protecting hotel workers, and secure scheduling—these measures have helped restore a toehold for struggling families and despite warnings here and in other locales that followed our lead the sky has not fallen. In fact, we have actually experienced growing employment and improved working conditions.
We know that bending to threats one by one only serves to reinforce the prioritization of corporate profits over people in crisis and working families. We find it unconscionable that one of the most profitable and largest corporations in the world would now try to threaten you as you seek smart approaches to bring our neighbors in from the elements and trauma of life in encampments, storefronts, and under and alongside our highways and bridges. Thank you for standing strong and showing our city what compassionate and common sense leadership looks like.
We remain in support, and call on you to pass your proposed legislation on May 14th.
MLK Central Labor Council
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW
Unite Here! Local 8