Category Archives: Featured

Multi-city campaign forces Greystar to return tenants’ stolen money

Longtime SeaSol member Neftali and his husband Yusdel met with some fellow SeaSol members after moving out of the Corinthian Apartments in Seatac. During their yearlong tenancy (April 2014-May 2015), Neftali and Yusdel suffered horrible living conditions, largely related to the plumbing in their building.

For about two weeks they did not have a functioning bathroom. Greystar’s compensation offer? A pair of free movie tickets. The issues with their plumbing were so extensive that contractors had to tear down an outer wall of their apartment in October. Rather than relocate Neftali and his family, Greystar forced them to live in an apartment with a missing wall for over a week, leaving their unit exposed to the street. Meanwhile water rained down from ceilings and raw sewage bubbled up from drains, damaging rugs & paint before the leaks were finally fixed. When Neftali and Yusdel moved out, Greystar charged them for the damage. When Neftali asked that the bogus charges be removed, the landlord arrogantly told him to go take Greystar to court. Neftali refused, saying, “The judge is your friend. I’m going to talk to my friends.”

Initial research revealed that hazardously neglectful management and wanton theft of tenants’ money is business as usual for Greystar, the largest apartment manager in the U.S.

A few highlights from other Greystar tenants’ online reviews:

  • “A closet door broke right off of a rotting wall and collapsed on me!” (yelp)
  • “I’d rather be shot in the face than to live in that apartment again!” (
  • “All over the apartment is mold and my kids are so sick… The lady who was our neighbor died in her apartment and [Greystar] left her there for a month…” (
  • “We had asked that the second floor balcony be secured better because our toddler could slip through the railings. Greystar’s eviction attorney came to our home and asked me to hold my toddler out through the railings to prove that he could fit” (yelp)

You get the idea. Greystar’s CEO, Bob Faith, explains his business model here:

(“Many times we take over an asset that was managed by a smaller organization that hadn’t been focused on the bottom line, and we can drive dramatic savings out of the expense side of the equation”)
In other words, they boost profits by dramatically cutting back on maintenance and allowing thousands of peoples’ homes to decay and fall apart.

Usually they get away with it all, but when they ripped off Neftali, they messed with the wrong guy. Neftali and Seasol formed a nine-person fight committee and voted to take on Greystar. On July 21, Neftali, Yusdel, and 22 others marched into the Seattle office of Greystar to deliver our demand of $575.01. We gave this large company a week to meet our demands, vowing to take further action after the 28th of July.

After a week had passed, SeaSol utilized connections with solidarity networks in other cities to launch a multi-city postering campaign against Greystar buildings. This coordinated effort got Greystar’s attention, and regional manager Garett Randall met with Neftali and SeaSolers, offering to pay approximately half of the demand. During the meeting, as he heard about Neftali and Yusdel’s experience, Randall laughed uncomfortably and said “I wouldn’t have lived there” multiple times. This manager also mentioned that Greystar would not pay back any money unless Neftali signed a confidentiality agreement restricting his legal rights. Neftali and Yusdel refused to accept, and fought on to win their entire demand.

Neftali, Yusdel, and SeaSol worked tirelessly to put up posters at Greystar buildings around Seattle. We held a poster-wearing action in front of a large downtown building that attracted a lot of negative attention for an incensed property manager there who followed Neftali around, tearing down posters as he put them up. We set up a website highlighting the shameful business practices of Greystar and encouraging prospective tenants not to rent from them. Meanwhile, postering continued across the country.

At a second meeting with Garett Randall on August 19, Neftali refused again to sign the ridiculous legal document and was walking away from the table when Randall ran up to him and shoved a check for $575.01 into his hands, preferring to give in to Neftali, Yusdel and SeaSol’s demands rather than face continued widespread direct action against Greystar.

A victory party was held in Seattle on August 22. We are very pleased with this victory after a well-organized collaboration with other solidarity networks. Thanks to comrades in Seattle, Oakland, Santa Rosa, Boston, Philadelphia, and many other cities, for acting in solidarity with Neftali and Yusdel.

Direct action makes Chase bank pay

When longtime SeaSol member Neftali needed Canadian money for a trip to visit family, he went to a downtown Chase bank branch, near his work.  There, what should have been a simple transaction turned into a nightmare. Although he came prepared with his Chase debit card and PIN, his valid temporary driver’s license, and his expired license, none of it was enough.  He was hassled, questioned aggressively, and told he needed to go home and bring in his passport to prove his identity – or perhaps it was his immigration status? Neftali, who is a dual U.S./Mexican citizen, was furious at this treatment and demanded to speak to the manager.  Finally, they allowed him to complete the transaction. He took the Canadian cash and left for his vacation, thinking the whole awful Chase experience was behind him. But it was just beginning. He soon realized, to his shock, that the stack of bills Chase had given him contained $1,000 less than it was supposed to.

Once back in Seattle, Neftali confronted Chase management about the missing money. They wouldn’t believe him. He asked to see the surveillance video of the transaction, but they refused to let him see it, despite admitting that it existed and that the teller had broken bank policy in the way the money had been handled.

So on May 31st, Neftali marched back into the bank together with thirty other SeaSol members. Our demand: either give Neftali his missing $1,000, or else show the video footage to prove their claim that they’d handed him the correct amount.

After two weeks went by with no response from Chase, we started turning on the pressure. We covered the area around the branch with posters warning customers, “Banking with Chase? Count it twice!”. Chase kept ripping them down, so we kept reposting them continually over the next three months. Meanwhile we picketed the branch twice, then expanded our pickets to cover four other downtown Chase branches. The posters began featuring a large photo of the branch manager’s face. Chase still wouldn’t yield, so we began looking for ways to pressure higher-level company officials. When the Chamber of Commerce invited Chase’s northwest regional CEO to address a “Young Professionals” event, SeaSol’ers were there leafleting the crowd while wearing mocking signs with her face printed on them.

Finally, after one more noisy multi-bank-branch picket, Chase’s District Manager arranged a meeting with Neftali to discuss resolving the dispute. The manager wanted to meet with him one-on-one behind closed doors, but Neftali insisted on bringing two other SeaSol members to back him up.  At the meeting, the district manager delivered a lecture about how upset he and his colleagues were about this conflict and our tactics, and about how Chase admitted no wrongdoing. Then he handed Neftali a check for $1,000.
Thanks to everyone who took part in the actions that brought about this victory! We proved that when we’re united and determined, even enemies as gigantic as JPMorgan Chase are not invulnerable.

Three month fight puts thieving restaurant out of business

Here is the story of our latest fight, in Becky’s words:

For the entire month of September I worked for Ciro D’Onofrio at his Italian Restaurant in Renton, Bella Napoli. During this time, Ciro was verbally abusive towards his employees and even customers. He would throw temper tantrums in front of tables and claim we were out of things on the menu simply because he did not feel like making them. He would also hire different people to come in and help out on a weekend night with no prior experience and without training. This proved to be difficult, as I was the only server, bartender, hostess, food runner, and busser.

I still had to pay rent so I continued to work for Ciro. Things got hairy when I had $110 of my bank “disappear” one night when only he and I were working. Also, I needed my check and Ciro claimed that he only paid his employees at the end of every month. I thought this was strange, especially after I had seen him give a check to the cook, but I dismissed it. What was he going to do, not pay me? As you might have guessed by now, that’s exactly what happened. Ciro has made up every excuse in the book as to why he refuses to pay me the balance of $478, from a missing bottle of wine to incorrect invoices. It is clear that he never intended to pay me.

That was when I decided to call Seasol. After meeting with them we decided to inform Ciro that he had 14 days to pay up or we would start fighting back. Then for two and a half months we peacefully fliered, postered, and picketed. Meanwhile Ciro’s response was consistently violent: shouting profanity, spitting at us, assaulting us, throwing water and picket signs at us and more. We went down every weekend, twice a weekend recently, keeping his restaurant empty (or nearly) for any given dinner rush we desired. And through it all our numbers grew, with fifty picketers at a recent action on December 19th.

Conversely Ciro broke down week by week. Despite sending in faulty documentation Ciro was forced to pay Labor and Industries a portion of my wages, although he still refused to pay the entire amount. His business dwindled, while our numbers and dedication grew. Finally last week, in a matter of days Ciro spent a night in jail (with assault charges pending) for attacking a group of Seasolers while they were postering; Seasol and my fight received some much deserved radio attention on KCBS 91.3’s One World Report; and most importantly, Bella Napoli Closed!!!

The day we delivered my demand letter was one of the happiest days of my life, I felt so supported and strong. With our strength and persistence we have shown, and will continue to show bosses like Ciro that they can’t get away with abusing their workers. And if they resist we are ready, willing, and able to shut them down so that they can never again commit such a despicable crime against the working class. There is power in numbers and support out there if you have a similar situation. Solidarity Forever!

Victory! Lorig drops lawsuit, pays $22,000 to fired worker

After thirteen months of aggressive actions, we have finally won our fight against developer Lorig Associates. The have granted our “final offer” demands, dropping their lawsuit against us and paying fired secretary Patricia $22,000 in back-pay compensation (though they won’t call it that).

This fight has been longer and harder than any of us ever imagined it would be. The company brought in a major nationwide union-busting law firm to try and crush us with lawsuits against both our organization and three individual brothers and sisters: Emily, Andrew, and Patricia. They tried to get an injunction banning us from picketing, on pain of arrest. They promised they would never give in to our demands.

Still we stood our ground and managed to keep up a never-ending series of aggressive actions against the company. We repeatedly picketed many of Lorig’s for-rent and for-sale properties. We continually posted “Don’t Rent Here” flyers. We brought our message to Lorig-sponsored “open house” events, industry events, and even charity events. We picketed and addressed three different city councils who were considering hiring Lorig for city developments. We contacted the owner’s neighbors. We brought Lorig’s troubles to the attention of their financial backers at Bank of America. The cost to Lorig in lost business, reputation, and legal expenses has been huge. Now finally, after a full year of pressure, they’ve had enough.

The strength to stick it out and win came from the unwavering solidarity of a ton of SeaSol members, supporters, and allies. When Lorig started suing people, no one ducked for cover – instead, more people stepped up. To everyone who participated in the Lorig fight: THANK YOU! This is your victory.

Thanks also to the lawyers Brendan Donckers and Keith Scully of Gendler & Mann LLP, as well as to Dmitri Iglitzen and Jennifer Robbins of, who took a stand for freedom of speech by defending us for free when Lorig tried to shut us down with a lawsuit.

For more background, check out our past articles and updates from this fight:

Victory in Nelson fight–Time to celebrate!

The fight against Nelson Properties is now over! For the past five weeks we have postered every week around Nelson’s properties warning potential renters about the company. We also began a tenants’ rights investigation at their buildings, delivered letters to the owner’s neighbors informing them that there was a slumlord in their midst, and held two small pickets in front of Nelson’s offices to warn potential tenants not to do business with them.

Last Thursday we found out that property management boss Lisza Darling’s reign of terror is over–she is no longer an employee of Nelson Properties. Then this Monday, June 21, Maria received her $500 deposit plus a letter agreeing that all issues from her tenancy (i.e. bogus bills) are now settled!

Let’s celebrate–come to High Point Park at 6 pm this Sunday (6/27/2010) for a victory potluck!