Today, more than 500 people will converge at the Seattle Art Museum’s Hammering Man for a major “fair share” protest outside Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting.
While Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and other corporate executives plan to use the shareholder meeting to celebrate their financial success, the 99% have something different planned. More than five hundred will rally under the Hammering Man — right outside the room where the meeting is taking place — to send a loud and clear fair share message: it’s time for the giant retailer to share their success with the 99% by paying their fair share of taxes, treating workers with respect, and ending support for the extreme right-wing organization known as ALEC:
- Tax dodging: Recent figures from the tax policy research group Citizens for Tax Justice reveal that Amazon paid an effective Federal income tax rate last year of only 2.6%. They drove their rate so low primarily by taking advantage of a loophole that gives them a $1 tax deduction for every $1 in stock options they give to executives. This continues a downward trend where their tax rate falls every year — from an 11.5% rate in 2008 to a 9.1% rate in 2009 and a 5.5% rate in 2010, despite solid profits. The corporate tax rate set in law is 35%. Corporate tax dodgers report from Citizens for Tax Justice is available online:
- Worker mistreatment: Two former workers recently spoke out at the company’s headquarters about harsh conditions in Amazon’s warehouses, including indoor temperatures that rose above 100 degrees. When workers collapsed from exhaustion, the company’s initial response was not to improve ventilation or install air conditioning, but simply to station paramedics outside.
- Support for ALEC: Amazon is known to have been a “Director Level” sponsor of ALEC, the shadowy and extreme right-wing organization. In the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting, ALEC has become notorious for its role in passing “Stand your ground” laws, as well as efforts to create tax loopholes, undermine workers rights, and make it harder for young people & people of color to vote. Now that the group has come under increased scrutiny, many large corporations — including McDonald’s, Kraft, and others — have publicly dropped support for ALEC. However, Amazon has so far refused to do the same.
As hundreds rally outside the shareholder meeting, the voices of the 99% will be raised inside the shareholder meeting as well. Several shareholders will be there at the meeting to bring our fair share issues directly before the executives and decision-makers who have chosen to take Amazon down a path of tax-dodging, worker mistreatment, and support for the infamous and extreme right-wing policy group known as ALEC. Interviews with shareholders can be arranged.