Local 25 Testimony on QHTC Tax Incentives

Good afternoon. My name is Samuel Epps and I am the Political Director of UNITE HERE Local 25, a union representing over 7,500 hospitality workers in the D.C. region.

We support Councilmember Nadaeu’s amendment to scale back the ineffective QHTC incentives. The District’s Chief Financial Officer himself concluded in 2018 that QHTC had a minimal impact on creating jobs and revenue for the District. There’s simply no reason to hand out money to companies that aren’t investing in our residents, or providing meaningful benefits to our workers.

We agree with Councilmember Nadaeu and our partners who testified here today: This money would be far better spent on programs like Birth-to-Three and helping end chronic homelessness.

We support these issues because we stand in solidarity with marginalized people throughout the District. Our city as a whole is experiencing a crisis of income inequality. If D.C. were a state, it would be the most unequal in the nation. We are the second most unequal city in the country, behind only Atlanta. The average white family has 81 times as much wealth as the average black family.

We cannot fix this terrible state of affairs by giving out money to wealthy corporations while demanding so little in return.

Reckless spending on tax abatements also has a direct impact on our members. District workers have long had to pay the price for incentives and tax abatements that don’t provide the city with a meaningful return on investment. Even after the Line Hotel misrepresented the number of District workers it hired in its construction phase and contracted with a company notorious for committing wage theft, DOES still tried to find a way to give them their $46 million tax break. And the Line Hotel is just one of hundreds of D.C. subsidized projects cheating workers and taxpayers with impunity.

We need to start clawing back tax incentives when they’re not working. We need to reinvest that revenue in programs that benefit D.C.’s residents and workers. Councilmember Nadeau’s QHTC amendment is a critical start.