Michelle is a mother with two young kids. She moved into a house managed by World Property Realty in February. Finding housing was a challenge because she had a previous eviction so she was willing to pay a double security deposit in order to move in. The realtor said they were still fixing some things on the house and they could finish once she moved in—without many other choices, she accepted. Once she moved in the management company stopped responding to her calls and her texts. Over the course of several weeks they did not respond to her call for repairs—two windows were broken, the door handle was not attached correctly to the door, and the heat did not work well. None of these fixes were complicated or expensive, but they were vitally important because anyone could break into her house.
Despite this, the management company kept dodging her calls. She called the Department of Neighborhood Services. When an Inspector came out they noted the issues and notified the property management company. A few days thereafter she received a 30 day notice to vacate. They did not give a reason for the notice, but it appeared to be in response to her calling DNS. Michelle contacted the IWW Solidarity Network and they decided to fight a campaign together to stop the informal eviction and get the repairs made. Michelle and the group began the campaign by delivering a demand letter. They escalated by leaving a voicemail for the owner’s parents. When the owner called her back he instantly said he was contacting the property managers to get all of this fixed. They ended the notice to vacate and fixed everything that week.
The Milwaukee IWW Solidarity Network is a group of workers and tenants who fight campaigns against landlords and bosses in the Milwaukee area. The Solidarity Network seeks to be a community response to specific injustices committed by people with power. They fight campaigns with tenants who live in houses with broken windows and no heat, who deal with landlords who attempt to evict them as retaliation for seeking livable housing. They fight campaigns with workers who can’t pay bills because their employer doesn’t pay them owed wages. All campaigns have specific, winnable demands. Through winning back security deposits, stopping evictions, and winning owed wages the group demonstrates that people have power and can challenge the status quo.
The Solidarity Network wins campaigns through direct action. Instead of relying on courts and mediators, we use our collective power as poor and working class people. We choose to organize ourselves as a community rather than hire lawyers or beg for assistance. The group generally begins a campaign by delivering a demand letter to the business. The letter states that if the landlord or boss does not correct the injustice against their tenant or worker within a specific timeframe the group will take further action. Once the time frame has passed, the group takes further action through pickets, postering embarrassing information about the business, door knocking, phone blasts, and other tactics. Not all campaigns are won as easily as Michelle’s campaign. Through escalating the intensity of the tactics as a campaign progresses, bosses fear the next action and eventually decide it is easier to do the right thing and meet the demand.
Interested in getting involved?
Come to an action! Contact us at 414-436-9627 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the phone tree. A member of the Solidarity Network will call you when there is a picket, postering, or other action.
Come to an organizing meeting! Most planning and organizing for campaigns happen on Fridays at 7 pm at Casa Maria (1131 N. 21st St). You can ring the doorbell and the person who answers will show you to the meeting, or you can call Colleen at 414-640-8418 for more details.