41 VTU members and guests attended our March general meeting which took place on March 5th in-person and over zoom. Here is a summarized version of the minutes.
Item 1 - Land Acknowledgement and Community Agreements
Item 2 - Chapter & Building Committee Updates
East side chapter:
- Public hearing for a building up for demoviction taking place on Thursday, March 9th, where a rally at city hall will take place.
Working on organizing 4 more buildings run by the same building manager.
- Have been doorknocking and had a first building committee meeting at the beginning of the year.
- Organizing efforts continue, including drafting a letter and meeting with building leads.
- Found out that a building and the one next door is up for sale as part of the Broadway plan.
- Aiming to develop a tenants union in the building itself.
- Want to continue trying to organize other buildings in the neighborhood.
Building was organized during covid, many tenants had to leave because of how bad the conditions were. Building was sold to someone who is somehow even worse. New landlord wants to tear it down in 2 years.
- Voted to form a collective and are doing a letter signing campaign to get the building manager fired - he sexually harassed tenants, entered suites without permission in the early morning and brought his kids to ask tenants to take care of them.
- Did a letter campaign before which shut down illegal suites and scared the property manager enough that he doesn’t come around.
Building owned by one of the largest landlords in Canada voted to form a collective.
- Building management tore out the hallway to the fire escape, it was an open construction pit with asbestos, black mold and sewage. Impacted accessibility for pregnant and people with disabilities.
- Started a letter writing campaign that 85% of the building signed.
Building was for sale, but pressing issues around heat. In general, it wasn’t working well for everyone. One tenant in the building didn’t have heat for 7 years, another tenant for a year and a half.
- 90% of tenants signed a letter - heat was fixed permanently within 3 days.
- Listing isn’t posted anymore due to interest rate spikes, and buildings sell slower when tenants are organized.
- Focused on community building and taking up space.
- Building was organized during covid, many tenants had to leave because of how bad the conditions were. Building was sold to someone who is somehow even worse. New landlord wants to tear it down in 2 years.
Portland Tenants Union
- Supportive housing building in DTES owned by Portland Hotel Society.
- Elevator went down, with about half of the tenants living with disabilities. Since September 8th, 8 people have died from being trapped in their units, overdoses and from heart conditions directly related to having to climb up 9 flights of stairs.
Called for a meeting at a pub, 30-40 tenants attended, packing the venue.
- Came up with a list of demands with the elevator being most urgent.
- List included porta potties in the back outdoor space, cleaning of the courtyard and powerwashing of the stairwell.
- Tenants decided to do an action and sent a delegation who went to deliver a letter in-person to the PHS office.
- The very next day, they fixed the elevator and it’s still working - but the elevator needs to be replaced. Tenants are going to organize to make sure it can be fixed permanently, including other demands such as allowing displaced tenants to return and stopping evictions.
Item 3 - Steering Committee Updates
- Report-back on 2023 strategy (link)
2023 union-wide budget proposal & discussion
- Endeavored for a full union budget for a while and it’s finally completed.
- Unable to re-apply for the CBTIF grant received last year, as the federal government pulled the plug on funding.
- VTU income has been relatively stable YoY for the last 3 years.
10% has been allocated for a bookkeeper, covered by CBTIF grant.
- One-time expense and will likely not be required going forward.
- Holding onto the office space, as it’s unlikely to find another office space as affordable.
Be it resolved that the general membership of the VTU accept the 2023 budget as presented and amended
Motion passes unanimously in favour (no abstentions, no opposition)
Item 4 - Community Announcements
- Looking at restarting the West End chapter.
- Rent Strike Bargain is trying to collect signatures for tenants collective bargaining rights. They are holding workshops Thursday nights. (link)
- Defend Broadway Working Group is looking to get people involved in organizing buildings along the Broadway corridor. Contact Liam/Nolan on slack to get involved.
- Lillian and friends are looking to start an organizing reading group. First meeting will be March 19th and a post will be made in #general slack. If you are interested, contact Lillian.
- Gabriela BC is holding an event to celebrate working women Saturday March 11th, 2pm at the Burnaby Civic Square.
- City Hall rally for Rebecca’s building on Thursday March 9th at 6pm.
Live minutes are recorded at each GM and condensed for the website. For more detailed minutes any member may contact us: [email protected]