Small business owners in Seattle say they are targeted for opposing head tax

SEATTLE -- Some small Seattle business owners say they are being targeted and threatened with a boycott because they don’t support the city’s head tax.

On Tuesday, Elise Lindborg walked down the sidewalk near her business, asking neighbors to sign a petition to get the Seattle employee head tax removed.

“I feel like we need to hold the City Council accountable. They have mismanaged funds; they’ve overspent and spent,” said Lindborg.

Lindborg is the owner of Zippy Dogs, a business she started 18 years ago in Seattle. Her business would not have to pay the head tax, but the companies she works with will. She says that is concerning.

“If you start encouraging businesses to not grow and leave the city, then it’s not going to be very good for small businesses,” she said.

Lindborg says because she is openly in opposition to the city’s head tax, she is now being targeted. She says a list is circulating online asking people to boycott her company and several of her neighbor's businesses.

“I didn’t sleep much Sunday night when I started seeing this,” said Dan Austin.

Austin owns Peel and Press, about block down the street from Lindborg.

He says a post he published on Facebook in support of removing the head tax is what led to his business and Lindborg’s business being targeted for a boycott.

“That’s just unfair targeting of people,” said Austin.

Lindborg and Austin say it may be unfair, but it’s not a new tactic. They saw similar boycotting during the $15 minimum wage debate.

Q13 News did some research and could not find any official boycott list.

However, we did find Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant published several different Facebook posts referencing the boycott.

Q13 News reached out to Sawant for comment. However, city officials said she was not available. They gave no reason why.

Q13 News also reached out to the entire City Council for comment on if they’ve heard of the boycott and where they stand.

Lisa Herbold is the only council member who responded.

In a statement she said:

“I am not participating in, nor have I seen, a list of business to boycott.  I have seen names of businesses supporting the referendum but I have not seen a call to boycott them, and again if there was such a call, it is not a boycott in which I would participate.”

On Wednesday, Seattle City officials followed up with our request with this statement on behalf of Councilmembers Lorena Gonzalez, Teresa Mosqueda, Lisa Herbold and Mike O’Brien:

“Small businesses and their workers are the backbone of our local economy. We are not aware of any organized efforts to boycott local businesses who are opposed to the Employee Hours Tax (EHT). If such efforts were to manifest, we would not endorse that approach. As demonstrated by our commitment to passing a reasonable tax ordinance that exempts all small and medium sized businesses earning under $20 million a year, we are committed to preserving the vitality of our neighborhoods’ local economies and supporting the ability of our Main Street businesses to thrive. We fundamentally hope we can move beyond arguing and begin the hard work of healing our city, housing our homeless, and by doing so promoting the health of our local economy and the health of our community.”