More than 100 protesters gathered outside of Amazon’s annual meeting in Seattle this morning to call on executives to address issues including affordable housing and workers’ rights amid the company’s massive growth in the city.
“You don’t just extract profit without caring about the heart and soul of the city,” said Seattle councilmember Bruce Harrell, who showed up to the protests. “Sometimes you have to be angry to shake things up.”
“Amazon is changing our city and in many ways it’s not doing it for the better,” Wilson said.
Other visible signs included “Seattle isn’t only for software engineers,” and “Amazon: deliver opportunities for workers.”
There were also animal rights activists angry with the fact that Amazon sells foie gras on its marketplace. Foie gras is controversial due to the manner by which some duck and geese are force fed in order to fatten their livers. “Foie Gras: Too Cruel to Swallow,” read one sign.
As the speakers concluded, two unmarked SUVs delivered Amazon board members Bing Gordon and Jon Rubinstein to the front door of the Seattle Repertory Theater, prompting jeers from protesters about them driving on the sidewalk.
Amazon’s appetite for office space has ballooned in Seattle over the past several years, changing the dynamic of the South Lake Union and Denny Triangle areas, just north of downtown. The company is currently constructing a 3.3 million square-foot project that has been dubbed the largest construction project of its kind in the city.
Amazon also plans to build one 24-story tower and another 6-story building on the block between Seventh and Eighth avenues, and Bell and Blanchard streets, adding another 778,000 square feet of space. That area is now home to the Hurricane Cafe, a Budget Car Rental office and a Cornish College of the Arts residence hall.
By 2019, Amazon — which does not disclose its Seattle workforce numbers and did not disclose its total real estate holdings in the city — could have enough office space to house about 70,000 workers in the city. Amazon currently employs more than 20,000 people in Seattle, but the company won’t specify an exact number.
GeekWire’s Todd Bishop and Tricia Duryee are covering the annual meeting — stay tuned for more coverage from inside the meeting later this morning on GeekWire.