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Labor, community celebrate new tenants’ rights in Tacoma

TACOMA (Dec. 11, 2023) — On Friday, organized labor and other community leaders celebrated that Initiative #1 went into effect in the City of Tacoma to protect tenants’ rights. United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 367 hosted a press conference with labor and other local leaders.

“We’re thrilled about this victory for thousands of union members and working families in Tacoma,” said UFCW 367 President Michael Hines. “We set out to bring the strongest tenant protections in Washington state to Tacoma and strengthen the local labor movement, and we are proud that our members backed us in doing exactly that.”

Thanks to voter passage of Initiative #1, landlords in Tacoma are now required to comply with health and safety laws before raising rent or evicting a tenant; limits are set on certain rental fees; landlords must provide two notices to increase rent and offer relocation assistance when the increase is 5% or more; a defense has been created against certain student/school year evictions, evictions between Nov. 1 and April 1; service members, seniors, families and others with protected status get new protections against evictions; and penalties and enforcement mechanisms are provided. (Learn more here.)

April Sims, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO and a proud Tacoma resident (pictured above at the podium), said Initiative #1’s passage indicated a massive shift in tenant rights and how working families think about housing.

“This is a new era for renters’ protections,” Sims said. “Across the state, workers are looking to Tacoma as a model of the most progressive tenant protections in the state. It’s not enough to rest on our wins, however. We need to continue to fight for housing and additional worker protections here in Tacoma and statewide.”

This victory for Tacoma for All’s grassroots coalition comes despite outside landlord and real estate interests spending a record-shattering $365,000 on a disinformation campaign against Initiative #1.

“Although the National Association of Realtors and other corporate groups funded the most expensive political campaign in Tacoma history trying to defeat Initiative #1, voters saw through their lies and chose to make these new protections law,” said Ann Dorn, Co-Chair of Tacoma-Pierce County Democratic Socialists of America, and a leader in Tacoma for All. “With rents rising 43 percent over the last five years, and Pierce County leading the state in the number of evictions, it’s clear that these protections were badly needed.”

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