Other Group

Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union

Website:

matunion.org/

Founded:

1985

Type:

Other Group

The Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union is an anti-capitalist organization that works with people who have problems with their landlords in Milwaukee.

The Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union states that it connects renters to rental information and legal resources. The group sends out mailers to people who appear on the Milwaukee County courthouse eviction docket with resources for renters. [1] It maintains on its website a “Landlord Wall of Shame” opposing what it characterizes as slumlords in the Milwaukee area. [2]

Background

The Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union was started 2019 and is part of the Autonomous Tenants Union Network. The Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union is one of 24 affiliates belonging to the national umbrella organization. [3]

Activities

The Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union states that it connects renters to rental information and legal resources. The tenants union stated it sends out mailers to people who appear on the Milwaukee County courthouse eviction docket with resources for renters. [4]

The Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union staged a protest with picketers standing outside a landlord’s office building in February 2021. [5] The tenants union also organizes protests outside the private residences of landlords. In a September 2022 protest, picketers held up a sign outside the driveway at a landlord’s residence that stated, “Slumlord lives here.” [6]

The Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union has called for the federal government and banks to pay off all overdue rent that has accumulated during the COVID-19 pandemic and the “economic crisis.” [7]

The Tenants Union tweeted that the solution to landlord price gouging was “housing being owned by the public and moving away from capitalism.” [8]

The Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union maintains a Wall of Shame on its website that highlights what it calls “Milwaukee’s top evicting landlords.” [9] The entries have summaries of legal action and fines taken against the specified landlords as well as media stories written about specific landlords. [10]

Social Media Posts

On September 27, 2022, the Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union tweeted that the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University “reinforce capitalism and white supremacy.” [11] The Tenants Union made the claim because the universities were near an affordable housing complex that wanted to evict its tenants so it could end its contract with the federal government and sell the property. [12]

On October 28, 2022, the Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union said that landlords do not provide housing. “They hoard it and ransom it back to you for more than it’s worth,” it stated on its Facebook page. [13]

Leadership

The Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union does not list any names of organizers or officers on its website. [14]

Media reports list people as leaders. The online website “Urban Milwaukee” described Robert Penner as an “organizer” with the Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union. [15] Penner is an activist in Milwaukee who also the coordinator of the Clean Water for Pregnant People program. [16]

Jay Lucien is an organizer with the Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union as well as an organizer for Industrial Workers of the World and Democratic Socialists of America’s “Libertarian Socialist Caucus.” [17]

Amara Lang was identified as an organizer of the Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union. [18]

References

  1. Cream City Social. A Milwaukee DSA Podcast. April 11, 2022. Accessed Nov. 14, 2022. https://creamcitysocial.libsyn.com/the-fight-for-renters-rights-in-milwaukee ^
  2. Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union. Wall Of Shame. Accessed Nov. 14, 2022. https://matunion.org/wall-of-shame/ ^
  3. Autonomous Tenants Union Network. Accessed Nov. 14, 2022. https://atun-rsia.org/tenants-unions ^
  4.  Cream City Social. A Milwaukee DSA Podcast. April 11, 2022. Accessed Nov. 14, 2022. https://creamcitysocial.libsyn.com/the-fight-for-renters-rights-in-milwaukee ^
  5. Isiah Holmes. “City Activists Call For Rent Cancellation”; Wisconsin Examiner. Feb. 8, 2021. Accessed Nov. 14, 2022. https://urbanmilwaukee.com/2021/02/08/city-activists-call-for-rent-cancellation/ ^
  6. Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union. Twitter. Sept. 21, 2022. Accessed Nov. 14, 2022. https://twitter.com/MKEMATU/status/1572706717254971392 ^
  7. Isiah Holmes. “City Activists Call For Rent Cancellation”; Wisconsin Examiner. Feb. 8, 2021. Accessed Nov. 14, 2022. https://urbanmilwaukee.com/2021/02/08/city-activists-call-for-rent-cancellation/ ^
  8. Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union. Twitter. Nov. 10, 2022. Accessed Nov. 14, 2022. https://twitter.com/MKEMATU/status/1590830657638641666 ^
  9. Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union. Wall Of Shame. Accessed Nov. 14, 2022. https://matunion.org/wall-of-shame/ ^
  10. Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union. Wall Of Shame. Accessed Nov. 14, 2022. https://matunion.org/wall-of-shame/ ^
  11. Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union. Twitter. Sept. 27, 2022. Accessed Nov. 14, 2022. https://twitter.com/MKEMATU/status/1574898572335542272 ^
  12. Brian A. Saunders. “University City Townhome Residents Get Third Affordable Housing Extension As Eviction Looms”; Sept. 26, 2022. Accessed Nov. 14, 2022. https://www.phillyvoice.com/university-city-townhomes-affordable-housing-extension-hud-philadelphia/ ^
  13. Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union Facebook page. Oct. 27, 2022. Accessed Nov. 14, 2022. https://www.facebook.com/mkematu/posts/pfbid0kLQo2CQVDT3Zu3SUXYzn8a7JmWCgU7iFuyerWkUxh98vFnFmo9rxmQYtgxfhjUZol ^
  14. Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union. Accessed Nov. 14, 2022. https://matunion.org/ ^
  15. Urban Milwaukee. Personnel File. Robert Penner. Accessed Nov. 14, 2022. https://urbanmilwaukee.com/people/robert-penner/ ^
  16. [1] Connect MKE YouTube channel. “Robert Penner – Clean Water For Pregnant People”; April 9, 2022. Accessed Nov. 14, 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKEJxQUSSAw ^
  17. [1] Jay Lucien. Varlam Akrat. “Tenants’ Unions: Building Dual Power In The Neighborhood”; Roar. Issue 9. Accessed Nov. 14, 2022. https://roarmag.org/magazine/tenant-unions-dual-power/ ^
  18. Ben Slowey. “Shelter Is A Human Right”; Shepherd Express. Sept. 22, 2021. Accessed Nov. 14, 2022. https://shepherdexpress.com/news/features/shelter-is-a-human-right/ ^
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