HOW WE WORK
(AND HOW TO GET MORE INVOLVED!)
The Bellingham Tenants Union is a democratic membership organization. Members vote all the crucial decisions about how our union works and what it does.
HOW WE WORK: SUMMARY
The BTU is an open organization that accommodates member involvement at a variety of levels. Members who want to get more involved can become Stewards, Organizers, and Elected Leadership, working together to carry out BTU campaigns and projects. Members are not limited to one role, often members have multiple roles.
Members have the right to attend and vote at Members Meetings. At these monthly meetings we share reports on what the BTU has been doing, and we make proposals and debate and decide what to do next. Members elect fellow members to become Elected Leadership, who are charged with representing the BTU and making decisions in between Members Meetings. Elected Leadership and Organizers report on their activities at every Members Meeting, and the membership has the power to reverse any of their decisions.
BTU LEVELS OF INVOLVEMENT
Click below to learn more about what each role does and how to SIGN UP FOR IT.
(Or be elected for it.)
Members are the BTU.
- Take action for housing justice
- Determine strategy, platform, and vision
- Vote on priorities
- Elect and hold accountable leadership
- Pay optional dues
- Are tenants or prospective tenants
- Honor the BTU Code of Conduct
- Attend the Annual Membership Meeting
- Ultimate decision makers
Stewards are essential for our union's function and success.
Our union’s strength lies in the relationships between our members, which give us our ability to organize. Every member in the union is supported by point-people, Stewards. Stewards mobilize their members to take action.
To be a Steward, you need three things: a passion for housing justice, a commitment to attend a training, and a commitment to spend around 3 hours a month volunteering.
Welcome New Members
- Build relationships with new members. When a tenant joins the union, a Steward will be connected with them. This member is now supported by a Steward, i.e. ‘under their stewardship’.
- Get to know your members by having a 1 on 1 meetings with them. Ask questions that draw out their experiences and listen to their story.
- Educate your members on what the union does, how it works, and opportunities for them to be involved.
- Continue to build the relationship with your members into the future. Check back with them at least twice a year.
- Be a union point-person for members under your stewardship.
- Listen for any issues, complaints, and tenant rights violations.
- Solve member problems if you can. If you can’t, pass on information to union leadership to solve the problem.
Organize for Action
- Mobilize your members to take action when there’s an critical action alert. Calling and texting are most effective ways to get the word out.
Attend the Annual Steward Assembly
- Once a year, there will be an Annual Steward Assembly held for Stewards to talk with each other, check-in with Organizers and Elected Leadership, share feedback, and be informed on new BTU developments.
Organizers are the engines of the union.
Organizers bring people together to act on their values and make change! This includes:
- Carry out the day to day work of BTU, such as planning events and actions, doing outreach to members, coordinating endorsements, and supporting members.
- Assist with coordination of work groups
- Serve on the Organizing Committee
The position of organizer shall be open to all general members in good standing. Organizers shall attend as many Organizing Committee meetings as possible, and do their best to complete tasks that they volunteer for.
- Spokespeople for union
- Support the Organizers and Stewards
- Lead key work groups
- Two Co-Chairs, a Secretary, an Equity Steward, and a Treasurer
- Serves on the Organizing Committee
Duties and Powers of Elected Leaders are as follows:
- The Co-Chairs are the official spokespeople of the Elected Leadership and of the BTU. In addition, the Co-Chairs shall perform all functions that are legally required of a President and Vice-President. There shall be two Co-Chairs. One Co-Chair shall co-coordinate the Steward and Membership Working Group. One Co-Chair shall coordinate or co-coordinate the Communications Work Group.
- The Secretary shall maintain the official copy of the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, and all currently approved policies and procedures; maintain the voting list and certify the results of elections; record minutes at General Membership Meetings; co-coordinate the Steward and Membership Working Group; ensure new members are receiving a Steward; and record and compile all actions approved by the General Membership and the Organizing Committee.
- The Treasurer shall keep all books of account; conduct financial transactions; file all required tax returns and pay all tax liabilities in a timely manner; and prepare an annual financial report for distribution in writing to the membership.
- The Equity Steward shall lead the BTU’s equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts to ensure they are aligned with its Mission, Vision, Values and Strategic Goals. The Equity Steward shall coordinate or co-coordinate the Equity Work Group.
We appreciate supporters! The housing crisis affects all of us.
- Homeowner allies
- Take action in solidarity with BTU
- Can donate to BTU / pay supporter dues
People can become Supporters on the right-hand side of our Join or Supporter page.
How do all those people coordinate?
GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETINGS
Members meet monthly to discuss the business of the union, make decisions, and share updates/events.
Four of these meetings are Seasonal (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter) Meetings, where there is usually a special presentation/discussion.
The Fall Meeting is the Annual Membership Meeting, where membership elects leadership, updates our platform, and makes other big decisions.
Organizers and the Elected Leadership serve on the Organizing Committee, which is charged with carrying out the day to day work of the BTU.
This work includes planning events, coordinating work group functions, supporting Members and Stewards, monitoring policy development, and responding to emergent issues.
The Organizing Committee meets in the middle of the month. And members are welcome to attend as well!
Work Groups are how BTU organizes itself into areas of interest. They are absolutely critical for our union to function and grow.
Learn more and consider joining a Work Group.
There are six permanent work groups:
Communications & Art
Law, Policy & Research
Community Solidarity & Coalition Building
Outreach & Direct Tenant Organizing
Steward & Membership
Cool. Now I want to…
become a Member! Exciting, we’d be happy to have you. Join the union here.
join a Work Group! Thank you. Click here.
become a Steward! Wonderful. To be a Housing Justice Steward, all you need is a passion for housing justice and a commitment to attend a training. The time commitment is around 3 hours a month. Sign up to be a Steward here.
become an Organizer! Now is the time. Let us know why you want to be an organizer here and the committee will be in touch with you. Click here.
become an Elected Leader! Yay. At least 35 days before the Annual Membership Meeting, you can get on the ballot either by a vote of the Organizing Committee, or by a nomination petition signed by ten voting members. Then you need to win the election!