Amazon.com could face some scrutiny tonight as City of Seattle design officials consider the company’s planned expansion near downtown. The pro-labor group Working Washington – a critic of the conditions in Amazon.com’s fulfillment centers as well as the company’s stance on taxes — said it plans to raise issues at the meeting about the company’s tactics.

“If Amazon.com designed a headquarters campus that reflects the hidden truth of their corporate behavior, they would be proposing a design that reveals some inconvenient truths they’d rather keep secret,” the organization writes on its Web site.

It then offers some unflattering answers to questions that Amazon will be facing at the design commission meeting, including whether the new facilities will have room for ambulance and car campers. Working Washington writes:

Will there be reserved parking for ambulances & car campers?

“Working conditions were so rough at Amazon’s Pennsylvania warehouse that they stationed paramedics outside to treat workers who collapsed from heat exhaustion. Their Nevada warehouse is staffed by temporary migrant workers, some of whom camp in the desert during the holiday season. Is this what can we expect to be going on behind the scenes of their glossy corporate headquarters — or are these kinds of conditions only good enough for warehouse workers?

(Design Review Guideline D-4: “Provide appropriate signage”. If Amazon’s corporate behavior requires parking outside their facilities for ambulances, they should be marked that way for all to see.)

A spokeswoman for Amazon.com declined to comment when contacted by GeekWire about Working Washington’s claims.

Amazon.com has taken several hits over the past year as it relates to its treatment of warehouse workers, not to mention bad publicity over its stance on collecting sales taxes in some states.

Plans for Amazon's new Seattle campus

Meanwhile, the company also has been rapidly expanding in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. The online retailer’s arrival in the neighborhood has not always been welcomed. Yellow flyers began appearing around the neighborhood earlier this year pointing out what some believed was the annoying behavior of workers at the tech giant. The company’s lack of support of community arts and culture organizations also has been criticized over the year, with The Stranger penning this headline last December: Does Amazon.com care about Seattle?

Sage Wilson of Working Washington tells GeekWire that members of the organization plan to raise awareness of “some lesser-known corporate practices of Amazon.com, especially with regard to tax-dodging and treatment of warehouse workers.”

He said it won’t be a “protest in a traditional sense” since they have no intention of disrupting the meeting and don’t have a position on the planned campus expansion, which happens to be the reason for the meeting.

“We support the idea of more good jobs in Seattle — we just also support the idea of good jobs in warehouses, and the idea that major corporations should pay their fair share of taxes, not the 5.5 percent effective federal income tax rate Amazon paid last year,” Wilson said. “This is the first major public event in a months-long campaign we’re launching in Seattle to hold Amazon accountable for its tax dodging, bad employment practices, and other policies.”

He said that Working Washington — a coalition of individuals, community groups, labor unions and faith organizations — plans to host more community forums and events related to Amazon.com in the coming weeks.

Comments

  • Guest

    What does Working Washington think of the car dealership, the concert venue, and the motel currently on these land parcels?

    • Anonymous

      Well, those are “main street” businesses-andf therefore worthy based on the far left’s litmus tests.  The far left only goes after non-union, high profile businesses run by “evil” billionaires.

      • Guest

        Toyota is non-union.

  • Anonymous

    What a joke.  the union “movement” has deteriorated into nothing but a bunch of whiners who want to raise taxes, know nothing about business or job creation and are about as relevant as the “occupiers” (one in the same I guesss).  Working WA talks about “good jobs with benefits” (i.e. I am entitled, the world owes me living) but knows nothing.

    How convenient that these clowns overlook the thousands of jobs Amazon has created locally and in other places the last couple years. With benefits and other perks I imagine.

    In regards to Amazon’s tough stance on taxes.  Amazon has rightfully resisted being a tax collector for states where they have no presence.  Too many states won’t do anything to enforce their use tax rules, instead demanding that out of state retailers do their dirty work.  Working WA should go to Cupertino with Mike Daisey and wave signs at Apple.  Or maybe they should learn something useful in today’s economy instead of whining.

    • http://www.workingwa.org/ Sage, Working Washington

      Amazon pays an effective Federal income tax rate of only 5.5% — far less than the statutory rate of 35% and much less than what even competitors like Walmart pay. (And likely less than you all pay too.) They drive their rate so low because when they give stock options to executives, they get to deduct it from their taxes — so the tax code subsidizes the rich getting richer and the rest of us getting budget cuts.

      We want to see more good jobs in Seattle. We also want the company to pay their fair share of taxes, and we want to make sure Amazon’s army of warehouse workers also get decent jobs with safe conditions, fair pay, and rights on the job.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gina-Peterson/100002826153919 Gina Peterson

    Working Washington multi-racial,cultural,religious and age coalition of working, under employed and unemployed people, many of who are part of several other social or political organizations. Our mission is to create good jobs by organizing to educate ourselves and the people in our communities about why our economy is broken and then what we can do to fix it. Right now, the tax laws allow Amazon and giant corporations like them to strip massive profit from our state and federal economies, thought tax loop holes. And these profits don’t trickle down to there employes. While Jeff Bassos, the CEO multiplies his personal billions, he forces publishers out of business, he undercuts local business by offering a phone app. which allows people to walk into small business, take a picture of an item, and then get it cheaper at Amazon. Sounds good until, you realize too, late, that you local stores are all going out business in your neighborhood. ALL these jobs are lost. Crime in your neighborhood goes up. Foreclosures, go up. More people rely on the state for unemployment, healthcare and food stipends. Now, you realize that your home value has gone down. Nobody wants to live in a dead, crime ridden neighborhood. Now you’re upside  down on your mortgage. What happened? NOW, that’s the real trickle down effect of Amazon on our economy. 

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