Seattle, Wash. – May 8, 2018 – Iron Workers District Council of the Pacific Northwest and the Northwest Iron Workers Employer’s Association are strongly opposed to the proposed City of Seattle head tax on employees of a few select “big” companies including Amazon, said Steve Pendergrass, President of the District Council and spokesperson for union iron workers.
“The employee head tax proposed by a number of our elected officials, will put many jobs and our community’s long-term economic viability at risk,” Pendergrass remarked. “Since the 1971, ‘Will the last person leaving Seattle, turn out the lights.’ billboard appeared, our community (business, labor, government and education) has been hard at work making sure those conditions don’t exist again. So, here we are today, enjoying the economic success of our collaborative labors over the past 47 years, and now the Seattle City Council wants to turn out the lights again.”
The tax will halt the current construction cycle and impact working families
In remarks to union members, Pendergrass noted that the Seattle economy is booming. “That means jobs, and a lot of them, for a lot of people, including the construction trades and the many suppliers supporting this massive building cycle,” he said. “Members of the Iron Workers Unions throughout the Northwest have been the recipients of good jobs, good pay, good benefits, and good lives.” But now, Pendergrass believes union jobs are in jeopardy, because of what he characterizes as an ill-conceived head tax on the very companies who fueled our growth.
The tax is an unfair burden on the local business community and will result in fewer jobs
The effects of Seattle’s economic boom have surfaced numerous local problems including transportation, rising housing costs and most importantly homelessness Pendergrass says. But he believes that the City’s attempt is to raise $75 million a year to fix the homeless problem will have little impact. “As a matter of fact,” he said, “if the proposed tax slows the economy down, which many believe it will, the homelessness population is bound to increase since many workers will be out of work.”
The tax without accountability and a viable strategy will do more harm than good
Pendergrass said that the union and its workers are supportive of the City and County’s attempts to deal with the homeless crisis, but will not support a financing initiative that has no detailed plan, guaranteed outcomes and is burdened with administrative costs. “We urge the Mayor and the entire City Council to take another look at dealing with the homeless crisis, including a holistic approach to social services that addresses dependency issues and recidivism, that doesn’t mean a loss of union jobs,” he emphasized.