The money will raise almost $50 million to help the city address its affordability and homeless problem. Starbucks accuses the city council of continuous spending and failing with no accountability.
"If they can not provide a warm meal and safe bed to a 5-year-old child, no one believes they will be able to make housing affordable or address opiate addiction", said John Kelly, Starbucks' senior vice president of global public affairs and social impact.
The new tax targets companies grossing more than $20 million per year and works out to roughly 14 cents per full-time employ per hour worked.
"People are dying on the doorsteps of prosperity".
"We are disappointed by today's city council decision to introduce a tax on jobs".
But as the big Seattle companies, which are among the biggest in the US and the world, are criticizing the legislation, supporters of the law, such as workers unions and church groups, said the tax would help the critical housing situation of the city, as the income gap increases and makes it more hard for the working class to pay rent.
Councilmember Lisa Herbold, a bill sponsor, said the revenue will not be enough to fully address the problem given the city's needs but said it was "the strongest proposal" possible given the veto threat.
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"Now, more than ever, we want the people who hear the business community say "no" on the head tax to also hear, even more loudly and clearly, what we'd say "yes" to", Kelman writes. Last week Amazon threatened to halt expansion plans in the city should the proposal be passed. However the problem has only deteriorated with the number of homeless students attending public schools in the city tripling to close to 4,300 in the last school year. The tax will provide additional revenue.
On Monday, about 40 elected officials from across the United States, some representing local governments in the running to host Amazon's second headquarters, published an open letter to Seattle in support of the head tax and expressing concern that Amazon opposed the measure.
Given that there is hot competition from other American cities to become home to Amazon's second headquarters, this stated apprehension about the Seattle's business climate, should give Seattle's City Council pause. Amazon, with 45,000 workers, would take the biggest hit.
Amazon criticized the new tax in a blistering statement from vice president Drew Herdener.
"The battle lines on this issue were more starkly drawn than they have been on numerous other progressive issues that the Seattle city council has pushed in recent years", Nelson told TheDCNF, adding the head tax drew opposition from many divergent interests in the city.
It replaces what had been a proposed $500-per-head tax. "There's no away I can afford to live in Seattle".
"I think you are seeing folks in Seattle who are not conservative by any stretch finally starting to question just how far left the city council has gone", Nelson said. "I'm confused about why the city of Seattle is fostering an adversarial relationship with businesses in this city".