Pic Source: Sacramento Business Journal
Collective Bargaining is a legal negotiation tool in which community groups and neighborhood residents collectively band together as tenants to negotiate with developers and landlords to improve building conditions, fight gentrification, and displacement. Typically, collective bargaining have been used by trade unions to negotiate agreements that can function as labor contracts between employers and the union. Across the country, tenants have organized similarly through Tenant Unions or Community Development Corporations against displacement and for affordable housing.
For example, City Life/Vida Urbana has helped tenants in the Boston area to employ a collective bargaining strategy on a building-by-building basis to negotiate specific agreements with landlords who have proposed large rent increases. Through "affordability agreements," this group was able to win housing subsidies and limits on rent increases in more than 40 buildings. At the core, a comprehensive collective bargaining strategy allows community groups to negotiate neighborhood-wide contracts between landlords and tenants that would regulate future rent increases, codify standards on repairs and renovations, guarantee automatic lease renewals and protect tenants from harassment.
In Pittsburgh, Homes for All, a recently-formed grassroots group that works for housing justice and affordable housing on a city-wide basis, represents the voice of tenant unions across the city. Part of their demands have been a national rent freeze, a freeze on all unjust evictions, community control over land and housing, and the right for all tenants to organize and bargain collectively with landlords.
The Yale Law Journal | Tenant Unions: Collective Bargaining and the Low-Income Tenant
Shelterforce | Fighting Gentrification Through Collective Bargaining
Policy Link | Community Controlled Housing for Massachusetts: Securing Affordability for the Long Term
Homes for All PGH | Homes for All Demand Cards
National Housing Institute | Thinking Collectively: In Boston, labor and community groups are using their shared values to collaborate and win victories
Regional Labor Review | New Union Initiatives on Job Creation and Affordable Housing: A Conversation with the AFL-CIO's Roger Clayman