Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info
The views expressed within this text are not those of the Montreal Autonomous Tenants’ Union (SLAM). The following is an account and analysis by one union member. SLAM is built on anarcho-syndicalist principles but is not an explicitly anarchist organization and contains many (if not mostly) non-anarchist militants. Working together has not been a question of compromising our principles, but of growing our strength based on tactical agreement.
This article provides an update to a previous article published by another member of SLAM. Read for more context here.
On Saturday, November 26, dozens of banners were dropped from the balconies of 3605 St-Urbain, painted with slogans such as “SOLIDARITÉ ENTRE LOCATAIRES” and “WE NEED HEAT!”. SLAM members danced to union tunes and handed out flyers at the street corner.
Fourteen tenants remain in the 130-unit building, holding out against a large-scale renoviction by notorious landlord George Gantcheff, owner of Cromwell Management Inc. Quebec. These last few tenants live scattered throughout a dangerous and distressing construction site. Recently they have joined forces with the Montreal Autonomous Tenants Union (SLAM), fighting for compensation, rent reductions, heating, transparent and consensual construction work, and that the renovated units remain affordable. The banner drop is the most recent escalation in their campaign, following several ignored attempts at “playing nice.” When tenants sat down for a good faith negotiation with the management company a few days before the banner drop, Cromwell’s representatives walked out after less than ten minutes of discussion.
On Saturday, union members joined tenants across the street from the newly decorated building. They played music, talked, and handed out over 200 flyers to curious passersby. Neighbours and community members expressed outrage, distress, sympathy and solidarity.
Cromwell aims to profit as much of they can off their property, regardless of the human consequences. So long as housing is bought, sold, and rented on the basis of profit and not need, Cromwell is a prime study of companies acting intelligently in a competitive market. As profit-oriented corporations seize larger portions of the market, Cromwell is an example – not an outlier. With a tenant class increasingly unable to afford housing, more and more people are organizing with their neighbours to take matters into their own hands. Oft-used pressure tactics serve short term goals, demonstrate power, and win concessions.
These actions lay the basis for a tenant movement capable of revolutionary change. Through the practice of pushing systemic boundaries and wielding our collective power, we make immediate improvements to our lives while preparing for a larger fight.
Check out the union’s Kolektiva account for an upcoming mini-doc on the banner drop.
More information is coming out soon on other anti-eviction actions from the month of November, including a tenant union demo against the eviction of the Ville Marie expressway encampment and rallied in and outside the Quebec Housing Tribunal to stop an eviction by landlord Satish mantha. Stay tuned to learn more!