'No head tax!!' Hard hats shout down Sawant at noisy conference outside Amazon
SEATTLE - Construction workers shouted down Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant on Thursday as she attempted to speak in favor of Seattle 's proposed new "head tax" at an open-air news conference.
The construction workers shouted "No head tax!" each time Sawant tried to speak in favor of the measure, which would charge Amazon and other large Seattle employers 26 cents per hour per employee to fund a homeless initiative.
The conference, held outside Amazon's Spheres, was intended to show support for the head tax and opposition to Amazon's announcement of a construction pause on a massive downtown construction project.
But the group of about 20 contruction workers showed up and drowned out Sawant's message.
Here is how the hard hat explained why he opposes the head tax.
Sawant showed evident frustration at the workers and eventually handed the microphone over to one of the construction workers, who praised Amazon for providing well-paying jobs to thousands of Seattle-area residents.
"They have provided more than 1 million man-hours in the last year alone to provide family wage jobs for people in and around this community," the worker said. "Homelessness is an enormous issue - not just an Amazon issue. It needs to have a regional approach that is fair and reasonable."
The head tax proposal would raise an estimated $75 million per year. Amazon would pay more than $20 million of that total under the proposal.
The workers eventually walked away, allowing Sawant and other pro-head tax speakers to take the microphone.
Sawant maintains that Amazon could easily afford to pay that amount. She also says that Amazon helped create the homeless problem by contributing to income inequality and the increasing unaffordability of housing in the region.
The noisy news conference followed a boisterous town hall meeting the night before, in which Seattle council members faced heated and emotional questions about the head tax plan.
Watch The Thursday Press Conference: