Category Archives: Fight Update

Community fight evicts scumbag manager

Kai (real name redacted) and her kid were happy living at the Helene Apartments in Greenlake, until the new manager, Arnold, arrived. At first he was friendly. Then he was too friendly. After his unwelcome advances were rejected, he started acting hostile. But things only got really bad after Arnold locked the fire exits, and then Kai forgot her keys and became trapped with her daughter in the parking garage.

Someone outside eventually heard their calls for help, and firefighters rescued them, citing Arnold for having illegally locked the fire exits. Furious at Kai, Arnold yelled abuse at her in front of her daughter, who from that day on became scared whenever she saw him in the halls. Arnold developed a deep, all-consuming hatred for Kai and her daughter. His obsessive desire to punish them, combined with the petty authority of being the landlord’s sole representative in the building, made life increasingly hellish for the young family.

Arnold made up pretexts to try to evict them. When the first eviction attempt failed, quashed by the City of Seattle due to the obviously bogus nature of the supposed “lease violations”, he did not give up. He tried again. And again. Eight times Kai had to deal with his attempts to evict them on false pretenses, eventually getting each of the evictions thrown out. But that wasn’t all: when Kai’s daughter made a jack-o-lantern at a Halloween event in the building, Arnold smashed it, then laughed about it to her face. When she planted a small garden, he tore it up. He stalked Kai via the security cameras he controlled, monitoring her movements and then taunting her about knowing where she had been and what she had been doing.

Unfortunately for Arnold, Kai was not a helpless victim. First she reported him to the Seattle Office of Civil Rights, which started an investigation, but ultimately did nothing. Then she joined SeaSol. We agreed to fight alongside her against the landlord, with one simple demand: Arnold must be removed from the Helene Apartments.

We normally bring a crowd of supporters into the boss or landlord’s office to stand with the worker or tenant as they deliver the demands. However, mid-pandemic, with people not yet vaccinated, we had to find another way to show community support for Kai. So instead, 80 SeaSol members and supporters submitted selfies with their own home-made “Stop Harassing Kai” signs, and we sent them all to the owners of the Helene Apartments, together with the demand letter calling for Arnold’s removal from the building. We soon received a response from Arnold’s boss, Chris: he wanted to “address our concerns”, but Arnold wasn’t going anywhere.

With the issue unresolved, we started gradually escalating the campaign. First we sent postcards to all tenants at the Helene Apartments, letting them know about the dispute and encouraging them to enforce their rights as tenants, especially given the Covid-19 eviction moratorium. We then started putting up posters around the building, warning potential renters what they’d be getting into if they signed a lease with Arnold. Arnold, of course, continually ripped these down, so we continually put them up again. After a while, we started putting up warning posters around the owners’ other buildings as well. We also created a website about the landlords, hosted at our very own domain name, “slumlordwarning.com”.

When none of this was enough to get rid of the abusive manager, we started a calling campaign targeting the two owners’ cell phones. Rather than do the traditional big one-day phone blast, we decided to drag it out and have a handful of people call each week, so that instead of one overwhelming day of calls that would soon be over, the calls just kept coming and coming, week after week, month after month. One owner’s voicemail was soon disabled, but the other owner used his cell as the main number for his real estate appraisal business, so he didn’t have the option of just shutting it down or ignoring it.

Next, we started going after the owner’s real estate appraisal business. The company made bids for contracts with local governments and public agencies, so we started sending emails and letters to city council members, county commissioners, and agency heads, asking them not to do business with this abusive landlord. Each week we sent another batch of these, bcc’ing the landlord on the emails. One of the agencies was Sound Transit, which had the landlord on their contractor list. When Sound Transit ignored our messages, we held a noise picket at their headquarters, then included a photo of that action in the letters that we continued sending to more and more agencies and municipalities each week.

At this point, the landlords made a more serious attempt to get us off their backs. They still weren’t going to remove Arnold, but if Kai agreed to move out instead, they would offer her up to $12,000 dollars in rental assistance. We tried to see if they would go higher, but they wouldn’t. $12k was a tempting offer for a low-income single mother, but ultimately Kai decided, with SeaSol’s full support, that it wasn’t good enough. She had not gone into this seeking money, that was not what we had demanded, and she should not have to move.

The actions continued. We made a flyer with a photo of Arnold and started distributing it in the area around the Helene Apartments, canvassing neighborhood people and business to let them know about the scumbag manager in their midst. Arnold retaliated by moving into the apartment directly above Kai and then stomping loudly in the middle of the night to prevent her and her daughter from sleeping.

We found out that Arnold, in addition to being a wannabe DJ, was also a wannabe dance instructor. A local dance studio had him scheduled to lead an event at Alki Beach. We contacted the studio and asked them to cease working with Arnold. We started preparing to show up to the Alki event.

We also finally started escalating more personally against the owners and the head of the management company, distributing letters to all houses on the blocks where they lived, as well as posting them on telephone poles. The letters said that one of their neighbors was an abusive landlord, and although we didn’t yet name who it was, we promised to visit soon in person to address the issue fully. We began getting ready to canvas the neighbors. Next on the list after that: street pickets in front of their houses.

Before going ahead with all this, we received a new message from Arnold’s boss. They had had enough. Arnold was on his way out.

We were a bit concerned that this message might just be a trick to stall our actions, but a couple weeks later we had the proof we needed: Arnold was gone, and the Helene Apartments had a new manager. Finally, Kai and her daughter could feel safe in their home.

To everyone who took part, thank you. This wasn’t an easy fight or a quick one, but it was worth doing.

Published by , in Uncategorized.

Victory: solidarity makes slumlord drop bogus fees

Seattle Solidarity Network had a busy 2020, and it was wonderful to cap the year off with a win. At the end of last year, we were approached by a young family who had been living in an apartment in White Center. They had recently moved out but were told by the property manager that they would owe several thousand dollars of bogus fees in excess of their security deposit. About a year ago, we delivered our demand that these fees get dropped.

We had other fights going on at the time, and we still do, but what we didn’t anticipate would be the impact Covid-19 would have on all of our fights. Just as we were preparing to move from postering and tenant outreach into physical protests at the landlord’s offices, virus restrictions made that next to impossible. Though there was a short period of little action as we adapted to new realities, we are happy to announce that after some months of creative new strategies we have succeeded and the fees are rescinded!

The landlord in question was also the owner of the property management company, which owns a couple dozen large apartment buildings in Washington, Oregon, and California. The landlord and his family live near San Jose, with only some leasing offices in the local area. We planned initially to follow up our posters at different apartment buildings with demonstrations at leasing offices, but Covid made this impractical. Thus, we found ways to put pressure directly on the owners.

We expanded our postering a bit, then we began a “slow-roll” phone zap. Every week a couple organizers contacted their phone tree list to encourage texts and calls towards the owner’s cell phone asking them to drop the fees. This was repeated week after week, with a rotating handful of members being asked each time. After some time, we prepared to put pressure on the owner’s gated community neighborhood, sending letters to neighbors exposing the situation. This was planned to be followed by posters and, pending contacts in the area, more actions in that neighborhood. However, soon after the letters were sent, we received word that the landlord had enough.

When we have each other’s backs and put up a smart, sustained fight, we win!

Published by , in Uncategorized.

Purple Store Fight Update

Our fight alongside the former staff of the Purple Store has been going for more than a year and half so we want to provide a recap of the fight thus far and where things currently stand.

At the beginning of 2019, a group of workers came to the Seattle Solidarity Network with a long list of grievous issues they were experiencing at the hands of their then-employer, Purple Store owner Adam Sheridan. A demand was delivered on March 3rd of that year for the over $10,000 owed by Adam in unpaid wages or as he termed them, “payroll quirks”. Shortly thereafter, the workers began exploring their options of organizing a union and by March 13th, the entire staff was fired via an email that claimed the business was about to go under and could not make payroll. The employees had reported Adam to Labor & Industries and the Office of Labor Standards as well as to the Washington Attorney General and the FTC for potential fraud violations. They had filed for unionization with the National Labor Relations Board. They had asked politely, and repeatedly, for the money they were owed. The state’s Employment Security Department ruled that employees were fired in retaliation. At the same time as this email was sent, Adam had new job postings up on the job listing website Indeed which made it clear that he was attempting to retaliate against his staff for organizing and intended to hire scabs.

Seattle Solidarity Network takes this kind of escalation and retaliation from a boss with the highest level of seriousness. We quickly assumed a posture of taking picketing action as we were moving into the cruise industry season which brings the Purple Store the lion’s share of their foot traffic. Driven by the massive amount of community support behind the workers, we spent the rest of 2019 relentlessly picketing the Purple Store; at times as frequently as two or three times a week. This represented the biggest test of Seattle Solidarity Network’s capacity as an organization in years and we were truly taken aback by the level of community power we were able to mobilize.

Toward the end of the summer of 2019, Adam attempted to file for a harassment protection order against two of his former employees along with another Seattle Solidarity Network member. This laughable attempt to stifle protected organizing activity was quickly dismissed from court but not before Adam entered into the record of evidence of illegal surveillance recordings from outside his store that included audio recording as well as lying on his initial written complaint. With the cruise season reaching a conclusion and the tactic of in-person pickets thus losing much of its power, we opted to begin pursuing legal recourse against Adam for illegally recording our conversations on the picket line without proper notice. While Seattle Solidarity Network seldom chooses to operate in the realm of the courts due to the fact that we know that is a space which entirely favors bosses and landlords, we felt this was a worthy pursuit since we had willing legal representation and it allowed us to begin working on other campaigns as well. Unfortunately, the courts behaved as predicted and ruled in favor of a boss illegally recording conversations on a public sidewalk in his attempts to shut down worker organizing. Our case was dismissed by the court in late October 2020.

After our lawsuit was initiated, the COVID19 pandemic prompted a cessation of in-person organizing activities for us. In addition to that, it canceled just about the entirety of the 2020 cruise industry and tourist season for our area and thus the effectiveness of in-person actions against the Purple Store. We spent that time redirecting Seattle Solidarity Network’s energies into our RentRelief.net project along with several other fights which we will provide updates about in the coming weeks. We want to express gratitude for the contributions of the former Purple Store employees to those fights. It has been truly inspiring to see them set aside their own fight in order to lend support and solidarity to others in need. Now that the legal tactic we pursued has reached an impasse, we are at a crossroads as to the future of this fight.

With COVID19 cases and deaths surging across the United States, this fight will likely remain static for a while. While Seattle Solidarity Network will continue to initiate and engage in new organizing campaigns, we also remain fully committed to continuing our campaign against the Purple Store until the demand is met. We encourage our supporters to continue to leave comments and reviews on all pertinent sites and social media for the Purple Store demanding he resolve the outstanding demands from the workers he retaliated against for organizing. Our website for the fight www.purplestorewagetheft.com will remain online and we appreciate our supporters who continue to share it any time the Purple Store is mentioned. The workers are still pursuing legal options as the Seattle Office of Labor Standards continues their investigation into this matter. Additionally, once our community is healthy enough to return to each other’s company we will certainly see more pickets and other actions. The fight against Adam Sheridan and the Purple Store for wage theft and retaliation against employees will continue.

This long and grueling fight has only been possible thanks to intense support from our network and the broader community. Seattle Solidarity Network along with the former employees of the Purple Store want to extend our deepest gratitude to everyone who has taken time to support this fight since it kicked off. While this fight has yet to be won, it has already made us all stronger in a myriad of ways and we will continue to build off of it together.

Published by , in Uncategorized.

Unite for Emergency Rent Relief

Most landlords are still charging full rent during the Covid-19 crisis. Tenants all over the world are taking action. We’re doing what we can to help. If you’re in the Puget Sound area and interested in joining with neighbors to fight for emergency rent relief, sign up at https://rentrelief.net.


Published by , in Uncategorized.

SeaSol Backs “Purple Store” Workers

Purple Store Picket

On Saturday March 2nd, around 40 Seattle Solidarity Network members and supporters joined workers from “The Purple Store” at the historic Pike Place Market as they delivered a demand making it clear that they were ready to fight with the community at their back for the over $10,000 owed to them by the store’s owner Adam Sheridan. It was a calm and quick yet impactful action that left the workers feeling empowered and ready to organize towards a resolution that worked for everybody. Unfortunately, Adam chose to almost immediately retaliate against the workers. Within a week, the workers from the store were told the store was in dire financial straits and they were not to return to work. In the meanwhile, Adam appears to have brought in scabs to replace the workers he locked out in an attempt to keep the store open until their peak Summer season. Funny how that works, huh?

Retaliation against workers or tenants organizing is something that we here at Seattle Solidarity Network take with the highest level of seriousness. Displacing workers from their jobs by way of lockout, threatening their ability to make ends meet and provide for themselves and their families, and then bringing in scabs to work in their place is unacceptable. A business that robs and retaliates against workers should not be able to continue to operate.

We are calling upon the broader community to get involved and support the workers in this campaign. Getting involved can look a variety of ways depending on your time and abilities. Whether it is simply spreading word of our fights through your own networks, getting added to our mobilizing list to receive calls and emails about actions, or coming to weekly meetings to get your hands dirty with planning and executing campaigns; we could use your support! You can contact us by call, text, email, or by filling out the form found at http://seasol.net/subscribe-contact/ to get plugged in.

Additionally, we are currently in the process of rebuilding our Strike and Legal Defense Fund which will allow us to provide financial support to these workers and people in our future campaigns should the need arise. If you are able to donate to this, you may do so via Paypal by sending donations to finance@seasol.net.

When we fight, we win!

Published by , in Uncategorized.