San Francisco Supervisors John Avalos and David Campos joined San Francisco city workers today in a protest outside Twitter’s Market Street headquarters calling for an end to corporate tax breaks.
The raucous lunchtime protest, organized by the Service Employees International Union Local 1021, featured a marching band and a flock of cupids offering valentines to “techies.”
Organizers called for an end to a payroll tax break approved in 2011 intended to encourage companies such as Twitter to keep their headquarters in San Francisco and help revitalize the mid-Market and Tenderloin neighborhoods.
SEIU officials said the tax break cost the city around $55 million last year for Twitter alone, and argued the lost tax revenues had a negative impact on the funds available for city employee healthcare benefits and essential city services.
“As the city claims a deficit, corporations continue to get a free pass while services are being affected and unjustified healthcare costs are passed on to public and family budgets,” said Larry Bradshaw, vice president for SEIU Local 1021.
Avalos and Campos were among those who voted against the payroll tax break in 2011.
Avalos today decried a city government that he said is “all too often is giving away the store to major corporations” while local service providers are forced to leave the area due to rising rents.
Campos led the crowd in a chant, asking “Whose city? Our city!”
“I’m not here to vilify Twitter,” Campos said, arguing that city policies should prioritize workers and the middle class. “We want Twitter to pay its fair share.”
Few Twitter employees were around during the protest but more than two-dozen police officers were on hand, reflecting the current high level of tension surrounding tech companies and issues of gentrification in San Francisco.
The protest ended peacefully, however, the crowd dissipating rapidly as the lunch hour ended.