The Worcester Tenants Union is an organization of tenants and workers in the Worcester area, united to empower tenants and bring housing under the control of the people who live in it. We see the wave of high rents expanding out from Boston and development in the city as a threat to working-class tenants in Worcester, who are caught between displacement and living under slumlords who profit by neglecting repairs and maintenance.
We believe in building a mass movement of tenants and working-class people with the power to de-commodify housing. We define a tenant as anyone who does not have control over their housing. By building relationships with our neighbors, we can organize to become collectively strong enough to pressure landlords to lower rents, make repairs, and stop evictions.
Base Building and Direct Action
By helping people win their basic needs and getting them involved, we can build a mass movement to house everyone. Through direct action like collective demand letters, calling/letter campaigns, eviction defense and support, we can stop people from losing their homes and make exploitation against tenants not profitable anymore.
Building-Wide Tenant councils
Alone, our demands are weak. If we organize together and make collective demands with the threat of collective action, we can force the hand of our landlords into making repairs, stopping evictions, and even giving up or negotiating ownership.
A City-Wide Alliance, Towards Dual Power
WTU is building connections and solidarity between tenants in the Worcester area. Landlords have the state on their side, but tenants outnumber landlords. Together, tenants can build the power to take on landlords and the state and end the exploitative practice of rent entirely!
We are not a Non-Profit, we are Anti-Profit.
WTU is an autonomous tenant and worker led movement for tenant power. We are not a non-profit, beholden to state and capital funders. We are anti-profit. WTU is a member of the Autonomous Tenants Union Network (ATUN-RSIA).
Points Of Unity:
We follow the Points of Unity laid out by the Autonomous Tenants Union, to which we belong. Additionally, WTU organizes under points 13-16 which are in bold and have been created by WTU members.
- We are organizations run by and for our members. We are not under the direction of paid staff, boards of directors, or state agencies, and we are funded primarily by our members rather than by grants or major donors.
- We define a tenant as anyone who does not have control over their housing. For us, “tenants” includes unhoused tenants, tenants who are squatting, tenants inside the carceral punishment system, tenants in nursing homes, in university housing, and in state institutions.
- We fight for tenants, not for housing. We recognize that this is a crisis of tenancy, a crisis of our place in the overall system of social reproduction. Calling this a housing crisis benefits those who design, build, and profit from housing, not the people who live in it. Tenants are full political subjects who will not be liberated by secure housing alone.
- We are not service organizations; we are movement organizations. As such we practice and build solidarityーnot charityーacross buildings, neighborhoods, borders, and language barriers.
- We assert that the interests of landlords and tenants are fundamentally irreconcilable, and we reject any policy that attempts to paper over this conflict. While we do not rule out on principle the possibility of temporary truces and agreements between landlord and tenant, we advocate for a strategy of class struggle. Our overall political orientation consists of opposing strategies that encourage collaboration between class enemies.
- We fight gentrification so that tenants can remain in their longtime communities and support networks. We define gentrification as “the displacement and replacement of the poor for profit,” and we understand that it is purposeful and produced. Because Black and brown communities are specifically targeted for displacement, we view the fight against gentrification as one component of the larger struggle against systemic racism. Those who benefit from gentrification, including landlords, developers, and lenders, and those who manage it, including the police and politicians, are highly organized and need to be met with an organized, militant tenant movement.
- We stand in solidarity with tenants in struggle around the world. We insist that tenants share interests across borders and we seek to build tenant power accordingly. We strive to adhere to an internationalist and anti-imperialist orientation in words and deeds.
- We support demands for Land Back by Indigenous peoples. Indigenous communities are some of the most deeply affected by the tenant crisis. The system of capitalism and private land ownership in “North America” is dependent on the ongoing theft of Indigenous lands and genocide of Indigenous peoples. Indigenous communities bring cultural knowledge necessary to our movement regarding kinship, community, and our relationship to land and place.
- We support demands for reparations for descendants of enslaved Black people. We recognize that slavery and ensuing racist practices across centuries shape the conditions that tenants experience in the present.
- We support fighting for anti-discrimination in housing practices for those who identify as LGBTQIA2S+.
- We are committed to language justice and aspire to create fully language-accessible spaces. We believe everyone has the right to understand and be understood in the language in which they are most comfortable and that language justice is everyone’s responsibility.
- We organize democratically and we are committed to fighting oppressive behavior and systems in and outside our ranks. We seek a membership and leadership that reflects the people most impacted by the crisis. We are engaged in an active struggle against the forces of systemic oppression within our communities which restrict access to resources, education, healthcare, and housing for marginalized groups of people. Within our unions we commit to learning how to deconstruct oppression and oppressive ways of working. We are bringing tenants together across lines of race, class, gender, gender identity, orientation, ability, age, etc.
- We envision a world without police, prisons and borders, which are violent tools of the state and enforce rent, private property, antiBlackness, racism, and colonialism. Tenant unionism is an abolitionist practice.
- We are opposed to the nonprofit industrial complex: it upholds the systems that creates inequality and oppression by working within their bounds instead of challenging them altogether.
- We believe victims of landlord abuse, racism, sexism and other harms, both within the housing movement and outside of housing issues
- We believe that the strength of our movements is in working class organizations independent of elections and politicians. To that end, we are independent of any political group or candidate, and we will not endorse any candidate for political office.