SEATTLE, WA — The city of Seattle has passed a resolution that permits city workers time off to attend anti-Trump protests.
The resolution, which passed unanimously this week (https://seattle.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=3029606&GUID=632BC851-1321-4A05-865F-48335990330C&Options=Advanced&Search=&FullText=1), declares May 1 a “Day of Action” in which all city employees are encouraged to attend a series of anti-Trump protests instead of reporting to work.
Drafted by Council member Kshama Sawant, a member of the Socialist Alternative party, the mandate orders supervisors of city government departments to remind city workers that they can utilize the two days they receive per year for “days of faith and conscience,” to attend the planned event.
A statement released by Sawant’s office just before the vote read:
“I urge council members to approve this May Day resolution, which explicitly recognizes the right of city workers to take the day off and provides protection to city workers who may otherwise worry about retaliation. May Day has historically been an important day of action for worker and immigrant rights. It’s especially significant this year, with immigrants, working people, labor unions, women, and the LGBTQ community under attack from Donald Trump. If Seattle is truly a Sanctuary City that supports immigrants and working people, then it should lead the way by enabling City employees to stand in solidarity with immigrants and all workers on May 1.
Further, I call on everyone who opposes Trump’s bigoted, anti-worker agenda to participate in peaceful May Day activities, particularly the official May 1 Action Coalition march. Join our growing Resist Trump Coalition to actively organize and build the fightback against the billionaire class. Without workers’ mental and physical labor no business can make profits and none of the productive forces of the world can be harnessed.”
“It’s clear when we organize, mobilize and fight, and when we strike together we can win,” Sawant told her fellow members of city council just before voting took place.
“If we truly want to build a summer of resistance against Trump and the billionaire class,” Sawant told Seattle’s King5, an NBC affiliate, “then we will need disruptive action like shutting down airports, and shutting down highways.”
When reached for comment, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said he supports the idea of Seattle city workers attending the May Day protests, but criticized Sawant’s calls to “fight”.
“I think it would be unfortunate and perhaps even tragic for an elected official to encourage people to confront and engage in confrontation with the police department,” Murray said of Sawant’s comments during a press conference.
Washington State Patrol Captain Ron Mead took it a step further, calling Sawant’s rhetoric “reckless and irresponsible.”
“It’s unsafe for both protesters and motorists alike, and we are simply not going to tolerate that unlawful behavior of trying to shut down the interstate or state highway systems,” he told local radio station KIRO.
While all city employees are eligible for the day off and encouraged to attend, the time taken off for the event will reportedly be unpaid. When asked who will cover the needs of the city as employees attend the protest, a spokesperson for city council replied, “no comment”.