The city of Seattle is hiring "social justice" advocates to staff its administrative offices—and unlike private sector jobs, these positions aren’t subject to the city’s new tax on six-figure salaries.
Library administrators, public utilities employees, and city auditors are just some of the positions Seattle is hiring for that have prerequisites of advancing "racial and social justice equality," according to city job postings.
The job postings illustrate how left-leaning cities like Seattle are adapting to cultural shifts and allegations of systemic racism that have shaken local governments, newsrooms, and businesses across the country in the wake of the George Floyd protests.
Seattle's public library is hiring a "director of Administrative Services" who is "responsible for directing and overseeing all of the financial activities for the organization."
Candidates for the finance position—which pays between $110,393 and $182,155 annually—must be "knowledgeable in the area of race and social justice, and developing policies with stakeholder involvement for better community and staff equity," according to the job listing.
Seattle Public Utilities is recruiting a "Deputy Director of People, Culture and Community." The job, which pays up to $215,000 annually, will help "to embed race and social justice and service equity policies and practices across the utility, by positioning equity at the core of decision-making at Seattle Public Utilities."
In addition, the city of Seattle is "recruiting for a compassionate, collaborative leader committed to equity and social justice to lead the Office of Labor Standards," which pays up to $182,115.
To qualify, the applicant’s "work must be centered in racial, social, and economic justice," according to the job listing.
A job opening for a policy analyst for the Office of the Inspector General requires "an understanding and appreciation of the intersection of policing and race and social justice." An operations adviser role at the Department of Human Services asks that candidates "conduct all work with a race and social equity lens, ensuring all projects incorporate an equity lens throughout all aspects of the work."
Government positions are not subject to the tax law passed by the Seattle City Council earlier this month, which will require businesses with payroll expenses over $7 million to pay an additional 0.7 percent tax on employees who earn more than $150,000 per year. Larger companies, such as Amazon, will be required to pay up to a 2.4 percent tax on salaries for employees who earn over $400,000 per year.
City council members expect the tax—known as the "JumpStart Seattle" initiative—to bring in an additional $200 million per year, which they have pledged to use for coronavirus relief, expanded social services, and subsidized housing programs.
"We are winning because of the determination of workers and socialists to smash all obstacles and find a path to victory," said city council representative Kshama Sawant, a member of the Socialist Alternative Party who backed the bill, after the law passed with a veto-proof 7-2 majority.
Critics of the initiative argue that it will push businesses out of Seattle when it goes into effect next year, noting that around 800 companies will face higher taxes under the plan. They claim it could also negatively impact the city’s economy, which is already struggling with a 14 percent unemployment rate and depleted tourism industry due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"Job taxes are counterproductive to job creation and have a history in Seattle of being enacted and then later repealed," said Downtown Seattle Association president Jon Scholes in a statement after the vote. "This tax should follow that fate."
A similar business tax passed the Seattle City Council in 2018, but it was repealed by voters before it could be implemented.