by Ronnie Estoque
“If we don’t get it, shut it down!” was among the shouts that rang through the streets of downtown Seattle yesterday as Christian Smalls led a Black Friday protest against Amazon. Smalls, a five-year employee of the Seattle-based online retail giant, was fired in March of this year for speaking out about workers contracting COVID-19 at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York.
Smalls, who since has become an outspoken critic of Amazon’s labor practices, formed his own organization called The Congress of Essential Workers (T.C.O.E.W.) to raise awareness about Amazon’s widely reported labor practices. During the pandemic he led a protest of about 50 Amazon workers to urge the company to close down the Staten Island facility after positive cases of COVID-19 were made public. He was then fired by Amazon following the protest, and on November 12, decided to file a class action lawsuit against the company for a termination he views as unjustified.
“They [Amazon] took away the hazard pay back in June; they took away the unlimited paid time off, and people are still contracting this virus,” Smalls said. “They [Amazon workers] deserve a pay increase; essential workers should be paid as a necessity.”
Continue reading Fired NY Amazon Employee Leads Black Friday Protests at Seattle Amazon HQ
by Wesley Stewart
Five years ago, I was living in San Francisco as a homeless young adult. My experiences being homeless are formational to the person I am today.
I currently work at The Mockingbird Society as a veteran of homelessness, fighting to uplift the voices of homeless youth and young adults, and advocate for legislation to end homelessness altogether. Although we do not provide direct services to our homeless neighbors, my work has me engaging with the community, service providers, and officials at the city, county, and state level.
Continue reading OPINION: COVID-19 Has Escalated Seattle’s Problems. It’s the Responsibility of Our Institutions to Escalate Their Response. Tax Amazon!
by Chetanya Robinson
Seattle City Council President Lorena González suspended future discussion of a proposed big business tax until at least the end of May, casting uncertainty on the future of the legislation, which the City Council pondered for over a month.
González, who sets the agenda for Council meetings where votes are taken, wrote in a memo to the City Council that future discussion of the big business tax should end, out of concern that the legislation is not sufficiently related to the COVID-19 crisis.
Continue reading Council President González Suspends Big Business Tax Discussions, Citing Governor’s Proclamation
by Chetanya Robinson
Seattle City Councilmembers Tammy Morales (District 2: South Seattle and Chinatown-International District) and Kshama Sawant (District 3: Central Area) say their proposed tax on two percent of the largest businesses in Seattle is intended to address a triple emergency facing the city: homelessness, housing affordability, and now the COVID-19 pandemic, which threatens to bring about an economic depression.
“I don’t think any of us have the luxury of not knowing somebody who’s deeply impacted by this crisis,” Morales said in an interview Wednesday. “It’s visceral and it is affecting our neighbors and our friends and our families, and the point of this bill is to try to address some of that suffering.”
Continue reading City Council Weighs Funding Sources for Big Business Tax