Union group: Amazon should be prosecuted for threatening to pull jobs over per-worker tax

A “union-backed activist group says Amazon should be charged with a crime for its threat to roll back job growth” if the Seattle City Council follows through with a controversial tax idea to assess larger firms a new per-employee tax. “The group, Working Washington, is asking Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson to charge Amazon with a Class B felony: ‘intimidating a public servant,’ citing the company’s move to pause some construction and leasing in the city pending the outcome of the vote on the so-called ‘head tax.’…Former state Attorney General Rob McKenna called the group’s prosecution demand absurd, saying the law in question is aimed at protecting individual public employees from personal threat, particularly of physical force.” [Jim Brunner, Seattle Times] More: John Sexton.

Commenter @Living4Winter on Twitter: “It’s so fricken weird when Ayn Rand comes true.” On Monday the Seattle city council voted 5-4 to approve the tax; a final vote will come later and Mayor Jenny Durkan has signaled that she may veto the measure. [KOMO] Update: the council unanimously adopts a tax set lower, at $275 rather than $500 per worker. [Matt Day and Daniel Beekman, Seattle Times]

More: Eugene Volokh with a more thorough First Amendment legal analysis (Working Washington’s theory “would criminalize a vast range of ordinary political action” including “an advocacy group’s threatening to boycott a city if the city council doesn’t change some law that the threatener thinks unjust.”)


  • The devil is in the details. In the Day — Beekman article at the bottom, towards the bottom of their article, it is revealed how the money will actually be spent. Only 2/3 will be spent on the homeless. The rest will be spent on undefined emergency services, pay raises, and administration expenses. In other words to create a pot of pork.

  • Hello, Amazon.

    Your sunk cost in Seattle is noted. It’s not too late to leave – run, while you still can. Your second HQ, if not in an equally insane city (cough, cough – don’t choose one in a hard blue areas) will be happy to have the work. Slap Seattle down now, before they go full Detroit – they can still be saved, buy only by the tough love of seeing your back as you walk away. Else, they’ll destroy Boeing as well.

    Amazon, If you want to stay in the Puget Sound area, I hear there’s office space in Bellevue, just across Lake Washington and with an infinitely more sane city leadership. Tacoma would be happy with you and not view you as a milk cow for their social agenda. Note – avoid Everett, they’re following the same fools path as Seattle. Or come north to Lynnwood – it’s not in King County, home of the Seattle whack jobs. The old Sears at Alderwood Mall is vacant and could be turned into office space right quick. Plus the Toys-aren’t-Us across the street from that is closing – a quick demolition and combination with the adjoining former medical office building site would make for a fine office tower spot. Then there’s the large lot between the Costco and the mall – more office space could be dropped in there. I’m sure Lynnwood would be happy to expedite the permits for all that work. Heck….you’re going to put everyone there at Alderwood Mall out of business anyways….may as well just take it all over as they go one by one. 😉

  • Let me guess, union jobs are exempt from this tax.