Five years ago today, we made Seattle the first major city in the country to win a $15 minimum wage! We built the 15 Now campaign by bringing together a coalition of unions, community organizations, Socialist Alternative, and my City Council office. Since that historic victory, the fight for $15 has spread around the country, with workers winning in city after city and in 7 entire states!
We won because we took the fundamentally different approach of basing ourselves on the power of working people, not on negotiating backroom deals and settling for what was acceptable to big business. We won by having a movement — and an elected representative in City Hall — which understood that fighting for working people, communities of color, and the LGBTQ community means standing up to big business and the billionaire class, and being unafraid to make powerful enemies.
A key lesson from our victory was that you can’t serve two bosses. You cannot be accountable to big business and to working people at the same time.
As Seattle increasingly becomes a playground for the rich, what’s at stake this year is who runs Seattle — Amazon and big business or working people. Winning rent control for Seattle will take standing up to the wealthy developers raking in record profits off sky-high rents and price gouging. Taxing Amazon and big business to fund tens of thousands of new affordable homes every year will require building powerful movements.
Already, corporate PACs have amassed an unprecedented warchest of a million dollars, with $200,000 from Amazon alone. This year, our enemies have made it clear that they want ‘anybody but Kshama Sawant’ for District 3. Why? Because they know that my office has not only been unshakably accountable to working people — we’ve been incredibly effective.
Let’s continue to fight for historic victories. A crucial part of that will be defending our seat for working people on the City Council this year. Can you chip in $15, $50, or $150 today to our re-election campaign?
Making Things Happen
Since 2013, we have built powerful movements and won historic victories for working people.Read more
Thank you to the 150+ people who came out to last week’s fabulous drag show and to everyone who helped make the event a success: the amazing drag queens and LGBTQ performers Atasha Manila, Thadayus & The Electrofunks, DonnaTella Howe and Mizz Honey Bucket; Left At London and DJ Reverend Dollars for amazing music, and Chop Suey for the venue. In addition, thank you to Donnatella Howe and Mizz Honey Bucket for generously donating their tips to our election campaign!
We were honored to have trans rights activist and martial arts champion Mac McGregor emceeing. Mac emphasized that the LGBTQ community needs elected officials who won’t just say nice words, but who will actually stand up for our rights: “Just because you’re gay, or queer, if you’ve sold out to corporate interests you haven’t got my support.”
In her 5 years in Seattle City Hall, Kshama has used her office to win important victories for the LGBTQ community. In 2015, in response to a surge in hate crimes and discrimination in Capitol Hill, she hosted a public forum which brought out hundreds to share our experiences and strategies to defeat anti-LBGTQ hate and violence. In 2016, City Council unanimously passed the proclamation Kshama pushed for declaring June 24 Trans Pride Day. Her office has helped to win crucial funding for LGBTQ services, including funding for a senior LGBTQ center & welfare center and funding for a health and wellness center at Nova High School.
At the same time, we know that the historic victory of the $15 minimum wage, which Kshama led the way on when she was first elected, was a huge victory for queer people, trans people, women, and people of color, who are more exploited under capitalism and are disproportionately employed in lower-wage jobs.
Shirley Henderson, the owner of Squirrel Chops, an “unapologetically political queer-ass coffee shop in the Central District,” explained how the fight for rent control — both for renters as well as for small businesses — is of vital importance: “Small businesses are being economically evicted from the Central District and from all over Seattle. Kshama has been the only Councilmember fighting for rent control, affordable housing, commercial rent control…she’s the only one giving a voice to working people in City Hall. She’s the only one putting the 'public' in public meetings.”
Another of our speakers, Quinn, a young activist who grew up in the Central District and organized a walkout from Franklin High School to resist Trump on his inauguration day explained: “I recognized Kshama Sawant as someone prepared to not only fight back against Trump’s attacks on queer and trans people but someone with a clear vision of how we win positive victories for LGBTQ community too.”
This year, Kshama Sawant is fighting to:
🌈 Win rent control and tax big business to fund a massive expansion of affordable social housing
🌈 Fully Fund LGBTQ Services
🌈 End Harassment and Fight Hate Crimes
Trump’s election has emboldened the right wing. His reactionary administration is pushing transphobic attacks, like HUD’s move to allow shelters to discriminate against trans people, and hate crimes have escalated nationwide, including in Seattle. It’s more important than ever to go all out this year to re-elect Kshama Sawant, who stands unambiguously with the LGBTQ community and all working and oppressed people.
As Kshama explained when she spoke, we are up against nearly a million dollars in corporate PAC money, $200,000 from Amazon alone. We can’t let big business buy this election. Please donate and save the date to march with #KshamaSquad at this year’s Pride Parade!
Corporate PACs are on track to spend an unprecedented amount of corporate money in this year’s City Council elections. News just broke that Tim Burgess, a former longtime conservative Seattle City Councilmember, has joined with business leaders and Republicans to form a new corporate PAC. In only 5 days, they’ve amassed over $100,000!
Combined with other dark money, predominantly from the Chamber of Commerce and Amazon’s CASE PAC, we now face a war chest of one million dollars, all with the #1 priority of electing “anybody but Kshama.”
During his 10 years on City Council and brief stint as Seattle’s interim mayor, Tim Burgess (nicknamed “Seattle’s Tywin Lannister” by The Stranger) had a long record of fighting against our movements and defending corporate interests, including leading the charge in blocking a proposal for universal child care brought forward by SEIU 925. Interestingly, one of our opponents recently named Burgess as one of “Seattle’s best mayors” in response to a question at a candidate forum (see here and here), as well as the Amazon-bought current mayor, Jenny Durkan.
In further corporate PAC news, a third PAC with the deceptively friendly name “Seattle Hospitality for Progress,” which also spent big to elect Jenny Durkan in 2017, now has almost $100,000. The PAC is funded by many of the restaurant groups which fought tooth-and-nail against our movement for $15/hr.
Our campaign is not for sale. We’re proud that instead of seeking endorsements from corporate PACs, we already have a clear lead with our support from working people, including early endorsements from nine labor unions in Seattle.
Big business is taking a savvy approach this year, recognizing that people in Seattle are angry at the corrosive influence of corporate cash in our city, so they are trying to carefully conceal their intentions. But a recent article in The Stranger exposed what’s really going on, citing Marilyn Strickland, director of the Chamber of Commerce’s corporate PAC:
Here’s the strategy: CASE hopes to avoid politically charged labels like 'business' or 'conservative' in favor of themes such as 'inclusiveness' and 'openness'— as in, 'we want a council that has an open mind, that is willing to listen to all sides of the conversation, and isn’t driven solely by ideology,' as Strickland explained.
Corporate interests like to hide behind this kind of progressive-sounding rhetoric, even claiming that our movements are ineffective. Yet this begs the question: why did big business spend a record-breaking flood of cash against us in our last re-election campaign? Why have they already raised a million dollars to spend on “anybody but Kshama?”
The answer is simple. They recognize the power of working people and oppressed communities moving into struggle to fight for their rights, empowered with the support of their own consistent fighter on the City Council dias. And they are preparing to go all out this year to stop us. Corporate PAC money is only just getting started, and they will unleash floods of attack mail and potentially even tv ads attacking Kshama Sawant.
We may not be able to match them dollar for dollar. But we will build the biggest grassroots campaign Seattle has ever seen, to talk to tens of thousands of voters in the district about our movements to win rent control, tax amazon and big business to fund affordable housing, and win a Green New Deal.
But we will only be able to do this if thousands of working people dig deep and sacrifice their valuable time and money to defend our seat for working people in Seattle City Hall. Please donate today and join #KshamaSquad this Saturday morning for our doorknocking kick off.
Last week, in another big victory for Councilmember Sawant, grassroots members of the Democratic Party’s 37th Legislative District voted against endorsing any of the candidates running against her!
Kshama Sawant is a proud member of Socialist Alternative, independent of the Democratic Party. Because of this, she was not eligible for formal endorsement from the 37th LD Democrats. But as supporters who fought for this non-endorsement explained, many progressive Democrats strongly support Kshama and are opposed to Jeff Bezos’ bullying and the Chamber of Commerce’s attempts to buy this election.
Kshama has used her seat to win historic victories for working people, from 15 Now to Indigenous Peoples’ Day to landmark renters’ rights victories. It’s because of this that Seattle’s most powerful business leaders are hellbent on driving her, and the movements she’s helped lead, out of City Hall.
Amazon has already donated $200,000 to the Chamber of Commerce’s PAC, which has now amassed a war chest of over $700,000. Their top priority this election cycle will be to elect “anybody but Kshama,” because they know her office is unshakably accountable to working people. They also know the other candidates will base themselves on what's acceptable to big business and would fit right into the cozy club of corporate politicians at City Hall.
When Kshama Sawant was first elected to City Hall in 2013, she brought together a powerful coalition with labor unions, 15 Now, Socialist Alternative, community organizations, and grassroots activists to fight for a $15 minimum wage. But making Seattle the first major city in the country to win $15 not only required taking on big business, but also standing up to the corporate Democratic Party establishment which has run Seattle for decades. Many progressive rank-and-file Democrats see that Kshama has played a vital role in winning historic victories and pushing Seattle in a progressive direction, and wish there were more elected representatives like her, here and nationally.
Since we won $15 in Seattle, the movement for 15 Now has swept the country. Under pressure from below, the Democratic Party adopted support for a $15 minimum wage into their official party platform in 2016. Yet even since then, leading corporate Democrats have used their authority to block, delay, and dilute proposals to raise the minimum wage, even in one-party cities like Minneapolis, Baltimore and Chicago.
Across the country, rank-and-file Democrats are standing up to the corrupting influence of corporate PACs and wealthy donors. As our supporters argued at this week’s 37th LD forum, Democrats should do the same here in Seattle. We were proud that, back in our 2015 re-election campaign, both the 37th and 43rd LD Democrats stood with Kshama Sawant by voting for "no endorsement."
Policies like taxing the rich, Medicare for All, and a Green New Deal are overwhelmingly popular among Democrats (as well as many independents and even rank-and-file Republicans). Yet the Democratic establishment refuses to accept these demands or even to accept politicians within their own party who advocate for them, such as AOC and Bernie Sanders (earlier this year, for instance, word broke that corporate Democrats were already discussing “primarying” AOC next election cycle). We must stand with AOC and Bernie against attacks by the Democratic establishment. But Kshama Sawant and Socialist Alternative also believe we need to build a new party for working people, rooted in social justice movements, dedicated to socialist policies, and completely free from corporate cash.
We’re also very excited to announce that, in addition to our important victory with the support of 37th LD Democrats, we have a clear lead with early endorsements. We’re proud to already have nine union endorsements, from SEIU 1199 NW, Laborers 239, Unite Here! 8, UAW 4121, Operating Engineers Local 609, WFSE 1488, WFSE 3488, the Greater Seattle Area APWU (postal workers’ union), and WFSE 304, in addition to endorsements from the National Women’s Political Caucus and the Democratic Socialists of America Seattle Chapter.
In a year with a record-breaking 56 candidates filing for Seattle’s City Council elections, we’re proud to announce that ours was the only campaign in the entire city to qualify for office by collecting signatures! With 3,500 signatures from voters in District 3, we collected almost 3 times the required number in 3 weeks time.
Some of our volunteers holding our stack of 3,500 filing petition signatures
To file for office, candidates in King County must either pay 1% of the elected position’s annual salary or collect a similar number of signatures from residents in their district. Most candidates pay the fee to run for office, but Kshama Sawant has always done so by collecting petition signatures. As an entirely grassroots campaign, we see collecting signatures as huge opportunity to talk to thousands of people in our district about how we can fight for the city working people in Seattle need.
Seattle’s City Councilmembers pay themselves $130,000/year, the second highest of any city in the country, while our city is increasingly becoming a playground for the rich. To stay accountable to working people in Seattle, Kshama Sawant accepts only an average worker’s wage, donating the rest of my salary to grassroots social movements.
Over 100 volunteers knocked on doors, canvassed on busy streets across Capitol Hill, and talked to our neighbors at parks in our District. But it was an easy task, because there is a deep hunger amongst working people in Seattle for the kinds of bold policies that Kshama champions, such as rent control and a tax on Amazon and big business to create thousands of affordable, socially-owned homes.
In April, Councilwoman Kshama Sawant introduced two measures for renters’ rights: 1) A comprehensive, citywide rent control ordinance without corporate loopholes; and 2) An economic evictions assistance ordinance, which is needed to immediately protect tenants against huge rent increases.
In addition to the 3,500 people our re-election campaign have already talked to about rent control to address Seattle’s sky high housing costs, Kshama’s Council Office staff have quickly collected another 1,500 signatures from people who have signed her petition for rent control. We plan to use this election year to launch an all out fight to pass rent control in Seattle and to overturn the state’s undemocratic ban.
While the real-estate lobby will try to whip up fears about rent control, just as big business spread propaganda against the $15 minimum wage, to many of the thousands of renters who signed up to get Kshama on the ballot rent control is a no-brainer. Greyson, one of our field organizers, reported how while doorknocking in the Central District wearing a “Re-Elect Kshama Sawant” t-shirt, someone ran up to ask how they could join the fight for rent control, because they’d heard about it from their friends. One supporter had a difficult time signing the filing fee petition, because they had been economically evicted and forced to move 3 times in the past year. When asked if they supported rent control for Seattle, they responded, “duh!” Others had questions about what kind of rent control we were fighting for, and enthusiastically signed to support our call for citywide policy without “vacancy decontrol” or other corporate loopholes.
Already, the Chamber’s corporate PAC (CASE) has amassed a war chest of over $700,000, $200,000 of that from Amazon alone. Like always, Kshama Sawant is not for sale: she doesn’t accept donations from business lobbyists, big developers, CEOs, or corporations. We need your help to stop Amazon and big business from buying this election. Please join our volunteer team and donate today.
Democrats Stand with Kshama Against the Chamber of Commerce PAC
Signed by the following members of the 37th LD Democratic Party:
Amy Hagopian | Claude Burfect | Janice Van Cleve | Hassan Diis | Kevin Allen | Joanna Cullen | Katherine Yasi | Abby Lawlor | David Loud | Gabe Meyer | Jonathan Rosenblum | Nancy Raiken | Mona Lee | Ellie Menzies | David West | Harvey Sadis | Harriett Cody | David Rader | Emma Chase | Justin Roll | Charles Davis
On Sunday the Seattle Times ran a feature article headlined Seattle’s Business Lobby Sees Opportunity to Unseat the City Council’s Progressive Majority. The article outlines the aggressive plans of Jeff Bezos and the Chamber of Commerce to unseat Kshama Sawant and Lisa Herbold, and win a City Council majority for big business.
Amazon has already donated $200,000 to the Chamber’s PAC, a corporate war chest now at $702,277 and expected to grow substantially in the weeks ahead. The article suggests Jeff Bezos is prepared to spend substantially more to expand his already outsized influence over City Hall.
We are concerned members of the Democratic Party’s 37th Legislative District, which will decide this coming Monday (May 20th, 2019) whom to support in the District 3 election. While Kshama is not a member of the Democratic Party herself (she’s with Socialist Alternative), we feel strongly that the 37th LD should stand in solidarity with her against Bezos’s bullying and the Chamber’s attempts to buy this election. As Kshama has emphasized from the beginning, what’s at stake in this election is who runs Seattle - Amazon and big business, or working people.
Sawant is trained as an economist and taught at Seattle University and SCC before winning a seat on city council in 2013. She has been at the forefront of building effective grassroots campaigns to push Seattle politics in a more progressive direction, benefitting working people, students, and seniors - of all political stripes. She’s helped to win a host of bread and butter victories for those normally at the margins of city politics, including the historic $15/hour minimum wage.
Her office worked with the indigenous community to end Columbus Day, and usher in the Indigenous People’s Day. Fighting alongside tenants, Kshama prevented 400% rent hikes at the Seattle Housing Authority, and won legislation mandating voter registration cards be included in tenant information packets by all landlords. The People’s Budget movement, in part initiated by her office, has won millions of dollars for affordable housing and social services. Throughout her five years in office, she and her staff have stood up for countless workers and renters facing abuse from corporate landlords and bosses.
While all this has been great news for most of us Seattleites, it’s made Kshama the target of a ferocious right-wing hate campaign. It’s exactly because Kshama has been so effective at winning progressive change that Seattle’s most powerful business leaders are so determined to drive her, and the movements she’s helped organize, out of City Hall.
To give one example, in 2016 Kshama’s office led the way to winning two landmark renters rights laws — a limit on move-in fees and a ban on rent increases in buildings with code violations. She also played an important role helping to win a law to curb widespread discriminatory practices in rental housing. This was despite the big landlord lobby group RHA spending $52,000 to oppose these vital protections for Seattle renters.
Referring to their failed efforts, now-retired RHA lobbyist Jamie Durkan (yes, he’s the Mayor’s brother) bitterly complained that, “Anybody who spends a dollar lobbying the Seattle City Council is wasting a dollar.” Durkan said other Councilmembers would “say all the right things in their offices, then they get out of the podium and it all goes south.” The lobbyist chalks up his failure to “Sawant’s army,” referring to the organized renters, working people, and community members who worked with Kshama’s office to finally have their voices heard and rights respected in City Hall.
Kshama also works hard on local, community issues. Just in recent months, Kshama has worked with seniors to save their homes at Halcyon Mobile Home Park from corporate developers, brought the Central District community together to demand a new Post Office, and organized hearings in City Hall with seniors and community activists to demand permanent community protection for the Central Area Senior Center and Byrd Barr Place, two vital institutions in our city. Kshama has been working to save small, immigrant-owned businesses in central Seattle, like Saba Ethiopian Cuisine, and has begun strategizing with small business owners on how to combat their displacement by fighting for commercial rent control.
Across the country, grassroots Democrats are standing up to the corrupting influence of corporate PACs and wealthy donors, over our Party and our democracy. We need to do the same here in Seattle. We did the right thing backing Kshama's 2015 re-election primary campaign, when both the 37th and 43rd LD Democrats voted for "no endorsement" (given that our rules don’t allow formally endorsing candidates who are not members of the Democratic Party).
Since we cannot endorse a candidate who is not part of the Democratic Party, please join us in voting “no endorsement” at the 37th District endorsement meeting on May 20. Thank you.
Solidarity with the over 7,500 (and growing) Amazon workers who have signed a letter standing up to Jeff Bezos and demanding a comprehensive climate change plan for the economy!
The letter is a response to Amazon’s “Shipment Zero” plan, which proposes a target to make half of Amazon’s shipments net zero by 2030 (and, unlike what the name implies, sets no date for reaching net zero climate emissions).
As the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned last year in their special report, we need to drastically reduce carbon emissions by 2030 in order to avert major climate change. As workers are exposing, Amazon’s plan doesn’t go nearly far enough. In fact, given Amazon’s rate of growth, reaching 50% net zero shipments by 2030 would actually translate to an increase in climate emissions!
The urgent action needed to address our looming climate crisis cannot be achieved on the basis of for-profit capitalism. We need a rapid shift away from fossil fuels, bringing the big U.S. energy corporations into democratic public ownership and retooling them for clean energy. That’s why Kshama Sawant is fighting for Seattle to be a real climate leader by becoming 100% renewable by 2030 through a Green New Deal for working people: tax big business and the rich to massively expand mass transit, making it free and fully electric, and create thousands of living wage union jobs through a major program for wind and solar energy and retrofitting homes to the highest energy standards.
Can you chip in $15 to join #TeamKshama in the fight for a Green New Deal in Seattle?
Across the country, tech workers are beginning to organize for workplace and social justice. Last year, 20,000 Google workers walked out internationally against sexual harassment after a report that company leadership had given a $90 million payout to a top executive pushed out over sexual misconduct. Through #TechWontBuildIt struggles, thousands of tech workers at Amazon, Google, and Microsoft have protested their companies’ use of their labor to strengthen the military and prison industrial complexes, including Google’s development of military drones, Amazon’s selling of facial recognition software to the police, and Microsoft's contracting with ICE. These struggles all point to the massive power that tech workers and all working people can unleash if they get organized and fight back.
Amazon warehouse workers have been getting organized to push for a union. Over the past few years, as Amazon’s workforce has more than doubled, workers across the country have exposed the horrific conditions for Amazon warehouse workers, including restricted bathroom breaks that have led to workers urinating in bottles, poverty wages forcing workers to rely on food stamps, and new, mandatory technological devices to closely track workplace movements.
We should be clear: Amazon’s decision last year to raise the minimum wage to $15 for all their workers last was not due to Jeff Bezos having a sudden benevolent change of heart. It was a concession to Amazon workers getting organized and to the momentum of movements like the nationwide fight for $15/hour and Seattle’s Tax Amazon struggle, led by hundreds of activists and Councilmember Sawant. Kshama Sawant strongly supports the right of all workers organizing to form a union. Unionized workplaces have higher wages and better working conditions than non-unionized workplaces, and unionization has been shown to be the most effective way to address gender and racial pay gaps.
Kshama Sawant has fearlessly fought against Jeff Bezos’ control of Seattle, while at the same time standing unwaveringly with Amazon workers. We’re proud that many tech workers are on #TeamKshama, joining us to fight for policies like rent control and a Green New Deal for Seattle.
Do you work in the tech industry? Join tech workers supporting Kshama Sawant this Saturday:
Tech Workers for Sawant: House Party & Meet and Greet
Saturday, 5/18 - 7pm
At Erik’s home in Capitol Hill - please RSVP to email@example.com for details.
Follow Tech Workers for Kshama Sawant on twitter for updates from tech workers supporting Kshama Sawant.
As a rank-and-file member of AFT 1789, Councilmember Kshama Sawant stands with the Seattle Education Association and all educators against the ongoing attempts by some Democratic state Legislators to undermine collective bargaining, force teacher pay cuts, and siphon public money away from our unionized district schools and towards non-union charter schools. Below is her letter to union members and allies.
Monday, April 22, 2019
Dear Seattle Educators:
As an educator, a rank-and-file union member of AFT Local 1789, a member of Socialist Alternative, and a Seattle City Councilmember, I stand with you in urging the state Legislature to restore democratic flexibility for local school levies. Educators are the best experts on what our schools need, and unions like the Seattle Education Association must have every opportunity to negotiate with school districts to fund additional teachers to reduce class sizes, and to fund other student needs such as librarians, school nurses, early learning, music, and art.
Shamefully, Legislators in Olympia, are going after educators and our unions, as part of the ongoing onslaught on public education. Earlier this month, the Senate Ways and Means Committee, under majority control of Democrats, inserted two poison pills into a school funding bill that would undermine collective bargaining, force pay cuts, and siphon public money away from our unionized district schools and towards non-union charter schools.
Charter Schools are being used as a way to defund district schools, and undermine the organized voice of educators, with the real goal of privatizing public education as a whole. If Washington state has charter schools, they should be unionized, and put under the democratic public control.
Rather than blaming public school teachers, and attempting to undermine union rights, the state Legislature should be taxing big business and the wealthy to fully fund public education.
I am disappointed, but not surprised, to see that the Washington Association of School Administrators and the Washington State School Directors Association (the statewide body representing school boards) have joined in support of these anti-worker, anti-public-education measures. The administrators and school board members behind this are simply following the Betsy DeVos playbook of starving public schools and attacking educators and their unions.
Unfortunately, the Seattle Public Schools administration and the Seattle School Board have completely failed to speak in opposition to what their state organizations are advocating.
For the last few years, we’ve heard establishment Democratic politicians ask voters to help them win a majority in Olympia. They claimed that once in the majority, they would stand with workers, students, and communities.
Now that the Democratic establishment controls the state House, Senate, and the Governor’s mansion, they have no excuse for failing to fight for the interests of working people and for public education. Unfortunately, as the WEA correctly pointed out,
“Now that our salaries are starting to catch up, some legislators are pointing fingers, and administrators are threatening layoffs. Instead, we believe they need to focus on a solution: removing legislative restrictions on local school levies.
Starting with the mighty strike action in West Virginia last year, followed by strikes in Arizona, Los Angeles, Denver, and Oakland, educators and our unions have demonstrated again and again that we have the power to defeat attacks on public education through independent grassroots organizing, working class politics, direct action and strikes.
Public education is under grave threat from Republicans and the Trump administration, but we have also seen a decades-long assault on public education by both Republicans and the right wing, and pro-privatization, anti-union establishment Democrats as well. I stand with you in the fight for full public school funding and local levy flexibility.
Olympia needs independent elected representatives who are truly accountable to working people and oppressed communities, not politicians from both major parties that claim to support us, but once in office, shamefully work with big business to undermine the needs of ordinary people, collective bargaining, and public education.
Seattle’s affordable housing crisis is among the worst in the entire country. 1 in 10 units sit vacant, while working people, small businesses, people of color, and LGBTQ people are being rapidly gentrified out of our city. With rent averaging over two thousand dollars a month, Seattle urgently needs rent control to stop Seattle’s out-of-control rent hikes!
That’s why this week, Councilwoman Kshama Sawant introduced two measures: 1) A comprehensive, citywide rent control ordinance without corporate loopholes; and 2) An economic evictions assistance ordinance, which is needed to immediately protect tenants against huge rent increases.
The movement for rent control is growing across the country. Earlier this year, working people and tenant’s rights activists won a major victory in Oregon, becoming the first state in the country to enact statewide rent control, and a rent control bill is now moving forward in Colorado. Under Oregon’s new law, it’s now illegal for a landlord to increase a tenant’s rent by more than 7% a year. The law also sets limits on how much rent can be increased between leases, removing the incentive to evict tenants in order to jack up rents.
This victory would not have been possible without tireless organizing from renters and tenant’s rights organizations, who have been fighting for rent control for years. It shows that when we fight, we can win.
Here in Seattle, and across the country, the for-profit housing market has failed us. Our city has been the national leader in the number of construction cranes three years running, yet sky-high housing costs and weak tenant’s rights laws have combined to lead to an epidemic of gentrification and evictions. On average, one of our neighbors in District 3 is evicted every other day.
In Washington state, rent control measures were blocked at the state legislature in response to grassroots tenant organizing in the 1980’s. The real estate lobby succeeded in passing a law in Olympia that banned cities like Seattle from doing anything to regulate skyrocketing rents.
But as Kshama said at this week’s press conference: “We have two choices. One, just sit on our hands and expect that some day, in the distant future, the Democratic establishment will gather the courage to break from the real estate lobby and finally stand with us. We’ve done that kind of waiting for 40 years. Or we can begin the fight here.”
Passing a comprehensive, citywide rent control ordinance in Seattle would create huge pressure for the state legislature to finally lift the undemocratic state ban on rent regulation. Democrats now control the State House, State Senate and governor’s mansion. There is no excuse for further inaction. The time to for rent control is now.
Just this week, news broke that Amazon has already dumped $200,000 to the Chamber of Commerce’s corporate PAC, CASE. The PAC now sits on a war chest of over $500,000. These big business interests have fought tooth-and-nail against all of our movements, from the $15 minimum wage to last year’s Tax Amazon struggle. We know that corporate interests like these and the real-estate lobby will spend big this year to try to defeat Kshama Sawant and our movement to make Seattle affordable for all.
Corporate politicians make lots of big promises to try to win votes, but you can’t serve two bosses: big business and working people. We can’t address rampant inequality without standing up to Amazon, which has paid no taxes for the past two years and is headed up by Jeff Bezos, the richest man in human history. And we can’t address Seattle’s out-of-control rent costs without standing up to the big landlords and wealthy developers who are raking in record profits.
We will only win rent control with your help. Please chip in today to build the movement to win.
What’s at stake in this year’s elections is who runs Seattle: Amazon and big business, or working people. And already, Amazon has begun to weigh in. The Seattle Times reported this week that Amazon dumped a whopping $200,000 into the Chamber of Commerce’s corporate PAC, CASE.
The Chamber of Commerce’s corporate PAC now has a war chest of almost $500,000. But this is just a start. “It’s a big deal contribution, let’s not sugarcoat it,” said one Seattle political insider quoted in the Seattle Times. “When a company like Amazon makes a statement like that, other businesses peg the amount they give to that, which bodes well for CASE.”
We can expect a relentless corporate onslaught this year against Kshama Sawant, who has been fighting fearlessly to Tax Amazon and has spearheaded a series of major victories for working people in Seattle which have angered big business.
Can you chip in $15 today to beat back the corporate PAC?
As CASE’s Executive Director, Markham McIntyre, explained: “They’re the city’s largest employer...they’re really focused on supporting candidates who are accountable.” Of course what big business means by this is candidates and politicians who are “accountable” to them. Councilmember Kshama Sawant has proven over and over that you can’t serve two bosses: elected officials cannot be accountable to working people and to corporate giants like Amazon at the same time.
Last year, Jeff Bezos threatened 7,000 jobs to try to defeat the Amazon Tax, then applied intensive backroom pressure to force its repeal a month after it was unanimously passed by the City Council — and just a few weeks ago, he announced that he’s moving the jobs anyway! We need more, not fewer, working-class representatives like Kshama who will stand up to corporate bullying. But to stop Amazon and big business from buying this year’s elections, we need your help.
Corporate executives can flood hundreds of thousands of dollars into a corporate PAC overnight. Even $200,000 is just a drop in the bucket for Amazon: Jeff Bezos alone makes that back in less than 2 minutes! As always, Kshama Sawant is not for sale to big business, corporate lobbyists, and CEOs. This campaign is funded entirely on tremendous sacrifice from lots of working people, and we’re proud to say that over 1,000 people have already chipped in.
Every donation, from $5 to $500, adds up. Please dig deep today and donate to re-elect Kshama Sawant.