Montreal tenants stand along a picket line surrounding the offices of the Cucurulls, landlords who run the companies Topo Immobilier and Immopolis
The Montreal Autonomous Tenants' Union (MATU) is facing state and corporate repression and needs international support. A large Montreal landlord attacked a Montreal tenant during a petition delivery and held another tenant hostage at knife point, threatening to cut them into "a million pieces." The landlord was caught on video smiling waving their knife through their window while the tenant was trapped inside.
A powerful French journalistic investigation has exposed many of the company's practices in large detail, including their harassment, injunction proceedings, and lawsuit used to try and silence the union. The union is strong and resilient despite the repression.
We have copied an excerpt from the GoFundMe – donate if you can – written by SLAM, explaining their current situation in their mobilization against the Cucurull real estate family:
After beating a court injunction, our union is calling for renewed solidarity in organizing against the Cucurull family, a group of major local landlords. Our tenants’ union initially called for support after a delivery of a petition to the offices of the Cucurulls turned sour. The Cucurulls have spent tens of thousands of dollars to secure injunctions stopping our union from publically releasing information on their actions. All public information on the company was ordered to be taken down, picket lines could not move forward, and our legal fundraiser was taken off of public pages.
A recent victory over parts of the injunction allows union members to once again speak publicly about the company. Not only have the Cucurulls still not provided an action plan for tenants’ demands listed in their petition, but a $380,000 lawsuit targetting the union has been initiated by the real estate family. Tenants request compensation for the Cucurulls’ actions during the petition delivery at their office, and an action plan for repairs, respect, and smaller rent increases.
The Cucurulls run as many as 29 buildings and up to 446 units. The real estate family has been involved in hundreds of cases in the housing tribunal in the past two decades. In 2019, their offices were subject to an occupation by tenants condemning long-time residents being evicted so the companies could raise rents. The family attempted to use injunction proceedings to secure the de facto eviction of one tenant who participated in the recent petition delivery, but failed.
This legal and solidarity fund has been set up to assist tenants in the union facing court proceedings initiated by the Cucurulls.
Join our regular Friday picket lines outside of their offices at 5301 Parc, donate what you can, and organize tenants in your building to build tenant power on our streets and in our neighbourhoods! A better city will grow from solidarity and community! Solidarity in each and every struggle with landlords!
Donate! Share! Unionize your building!
An open letter was signed by about 20 local, national, and international organizations. It published by the collective Premiere Ligne, called “La justice fait taire les locataires! – Communiqué.” The letter explores the reprehensible actions of the landlords, Ian Cucurull & Martha Cucurull, against members of the SLAM delivering an innocent petition. Hair was pulled, a SLAM member was choked, a tenant of the landlord was trapped in the landlord’s office as the landlord, on video, smiled out their window, waving a knife.
The police, not charging the landlords, have chosen to target tenants involved in the petition delivery with such charges as extortion (for organizing for demands), harassment (for generating continued public pressure against the landlord) and breaking and entering (for visiting the landlord’s office collectively). Other details on the later court injunction, which included a failed attempt at a “de facto” eviction of a tenant, are explored above in the Gofundme text.
As for some reflections on the need for a movement response and continued solidarity with Montreal’s tenant union:
1) Tenant unions are new in Montreal. The state and landlord’s response today to tenants organizing on a basis of collective action will determine their future responses. If tenants organizing together and taking action together using pretty traditional tactics is criminal or worthy of court injunctions, and we allow that to go uncontested, we lose one of our most useful strategies to confront the housing crisis. Essentially, tenants’ right to organize publicly is being challenged here. Will that challenge succeed?
2) Relatedly, we can only assume that landlord organizations like CORPIQ and other landlords may be watching these situations and taking key lessons. Will this intensive repression – including a $380,000 lawsuit, court injunctions, thousands in legal fees, criminal charges and police investigation – lead to defeat or victory?
3) An opportunity has presented itself for organizing against a major local landlord. This is a public campaign at a moment of intensifying public concern with housing relations and the relationship of power between renters and landlords. As a popular movement, let’s organize where the class tensions and antagonisms, the failures of our courts and police, are clearest to people outside of our movement. Anyone knows when learning about this situation that a serious injustice is being committed.
4) Finally, these strategies of repression should never be tolerated by our movement, against any of our members. Solidarity, today, is a call to action against the Cucurulls and their companies: Immopolis and Topo Immobilier!
Here is where you can find more information on keeping up with SLAM’s activities or find their events.
Note: The above message is a sign of solidarity, that was not done with the permission or knowledge of SLAM.