46 VTU members and guests attended our August general meeting which took place on August 20th over zoom. Here is a summarized version of the minutes.
Item 1 - Land Acknowledgement and Community Agreements (15 mins)
Item 2 - Chapter Updates
- Recently did an info session which was well attended with new members
- Lots of Landlord use evictions reported in the are
- Planning to do a BBQ in September
- Next chapter meeting is August 28th at 7pm
- Continuing to organize 4 buildings with the same building manager. They’re doing a letter writing campaign.
- Will be at car-free day on Sept 9th on Commercial Drive
- Won a big campaign in Kier’s building to stop a wrongful eviction. Mt P members organized a majority in the building to send a letter to the landlord, then sent a delegation to DeeCorp’s office and held a rally. Later this week DeeCorp dropped the eviction!! Lots of media coverage and success in raising the issues surrounding the eviction.
- A building fire near Kingsgate Mall. Landlord is notorious (news coverage in the Tyee revealed this is the third time this happened with this landlord). 70 tenants displaced. Chapter members are keeping an eye on the situation.
- One member having big noise issue in one of the buildings. Looking into doing collective action because it takes a major toll on the tenants who live there.
- Planning to table at Car Free Day on Sept 24. Will be focused on landlord use evictions, landlords using “mutual agreements to end tenancy” to get around the switch to month to month (tenants are being forced to sign these agreements at the start of their tenancy, and then being offered to continue tenancy at a higher rate than permitted or move out), and other ways landlords are using loopholes to get around rent control (and we will use it as a discussion point / petition / action regarding real rent control).
Item 3 - Autonomous Tenants Union Network West Coast Convention Delegate Report back
The planned workshop won’t be the same on Zoom - do we want to do the exercise in breakout rooms?
- Members in attendance voted not to do the exercise on Zoom - tabled to another time
- In April 2023, VTU members voted to send Tintin and Ben to ATUN’s West Coast Meet up in Oakland, CA. About a dozen different tenant unions attended from across Turtle Island.
- Afterwards, Tintin and Ben also went to visit the Los Angeles Tenants Union (LATU). Attended a LATU organized action almost every day they were there.
- The report closely outlines lessons learned from the LATU as well as the Tenant And Neighbourhood Council (TANC) in the San Francisco Bay Area.
- [Delegates Ben and Tintin give an overview of the report]
Questions and Answers
Q: We have the eviction self defense guide, wondering if the third recommendation is about updating this, or making something new?
- This is about training organizers to know the legal processes and how to use those processes in organizing defence. For example, using RTB timelines to buy time and organize rather than just waiting for an eviction hearing.
- Comment: In my opinion, we should still maintain the centralization we have in VTU because I think's important to ensure that we have an overall direction and that we can potentially organize actions at a city-wide and hopefully eventually nation-wide level
Q: What are the dues charges of other unions?
- LATU is a monthly dues structure, but it’s a pay what you can
- SLAM just passes a hat a general meetings with no dues structure
Q: I wonder about if you saw local businesses participating in mutual aid in any examples like that in California
- All the delegates saw was tenant-to-tenant mutual aid stuff.
Q: Seems like there are lots of tensions between hierarchy and autonomy, but that it’s okay to have those tensions. I have a question about how we address the recommendations. I am not agreeing with all of them, but are we voting on them today?
- We wanted to reflect on the recommendations as part of the breakout groups/workshop. Members are not voting to accept those recommendations today.
- Q: We have the eviction self defense guide, wondering if the third recommendation is about updating this, or making something new?
Item 4 - Community Announcements:
International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31
- Celebrate and honour the struggle for people fighting the drug war
Calling for volunteers to help run the event. Starts at 12pm noon at VANDU office. Marching at 1pm from VANDU to Oppenheimer park
Mt Pleasant chapter members are organizing with the tenants who lost their apartment building due to fire. Landlord is a slumlord - history of fire code violations and harassing tenants. Tenants want to be compensated for losing everything. The tenants organized at the courthouse to protest the landlord. Tenants want to hire their own investigator on what happened, but the quoted cost is ~$5000. The tenants ask if VTU could potentially help with fundraising efforts Hoping to vote on VTU supporting in this way
- Q: Does this need to be voted on at a General Meeting? Does VTU need to hold the money or are we just publicizing?
Q: Do they have a particular investigator in mind?
- Yes they have already been in talks with someone
Q: Could VTU do a go fund me for the tenants who were burnt out?
- Tenants are not asking for this
Q: Can the tenants come to a Mt pleasant meeting?
- We can look into that
BIRT VTU help publicize the fundraising efforts of fire victims of 414 E 10th for their fire investigation.
East Side organizing update - Tenants in a new building have amenity spaces - which are required by the city bylaws to give space to tenants in small to host events since their studio apartments are tiny. At first the company was denying tenants access, but now they are trying to charge residents $200 for 4 hour bookings. Tenants are meeting with East side chapter members to get organized around the issue
Mt Pleasant members flagged that this is an issue in some buildings they are in as well
- Mt Pleasant members flagged that this is an issue in some buildings they are in as well
- Next Membership Organizing and Tenant Solidarity MOATS on Wednesday Aug 23rd. Keep your eye out on Slack for meeting links
Live minutes are recorded at each GM and condensed for the website. For more detailed minutes any member may contact us: [email protected]