The Seattle City Council is picking a big fight with an even bigger opponent: one of its best-known corporate residents, Amazon.
The city says it needs to raise millions of dollars to fight homelessness, and last week it became the first in the U.S. to force companies making more than $20 million a year to pay a tax of $500 per employee.
Nearly 600 companies will be affected in all, but over the course of several city council meetings, the common theme was anger toward Amazon, which some local leaders blame for driving inequality in the city by attracting workers and squeezing Seattle’s rental market.
On Friday, a group of businesses began collecting signatures for a ballot measure opposing the new tax, laying the groundwork for a second phase of this fight intertwined with the November elections. But Amazon was Seattle’s first major business to take on the city council, announcing several weeks ago that it would halt construction on a new downtown office tower.
Cities all over the country have offered Amazon massive incentives to host the company’s second headquarters, but Seattle appears to have shown it has leverage as long as Amazon makes its home there. After the vote, Amazon announced that although it was unhappy with the result, it would resume construction of its office tower.
This segment originally aired May 14, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.