Omaha Tenants United Points of Unity
Our Points of Unity outlines certain ideological beliefs held by our organization. While we are a multi-tendency organization, we do expect all members to firmly believe in and uphold these points. While it is of course the immediate aim of OTU to organize tenants in order to help them take on their landlords, improve their living conditions, and take greater control over their lives, this is only one small portion of a broader political project. By engaging in tenant struggles, we seek to demonstrate that the masses of the working class do in fact possess power when we act collectively and in turn, grow class consciousness in our communities. We seek to grow and consolidate the working class against the exploitative ruling class so that we may begin to wage a broader range of struggles in different areas relevant to the working class’ interests.
1) We are an anti-capitalist organization.
We believe that capitalism is a fundamentally exploitative system which allows the ruling class to extract wealth from the workers they employ. Capitalism — in its quest for never ending growth — has created environmental disaster, violently subjects the third world to imperial dominance, and concentrates wealth in the hands of the few at the expense of the many.
2) We believe the relationship between tenants and landlords is fundamentally parasitic, and should be done away with entirely.
Landlords extract wealth while producing nothing of value. They charge us from afar to occupy space that they themselves would not otherwise utilize. Landlords’ interests are in direct opposition to those of tenants. The fewer repairs they make, the fewer resources they put into making our homes comfortable and livable — the more money they make at the expense of their tenants. Until this system is abolished, we seek to build a Tenants Union in Omaha capable of keeping landlords in check, and holding them more accountable to their tenants.
3) We believe housing is a human right that should be guaranteed to all.
There are 18.9 million empty homes in the United States while 3.5 million people remain homeless. These homes sit empty not for lack of need, but because their owners are unable to generate profits from them. Homelessness is a problem manufactured by capitalism, the possibility of which is dangled over us as a threat to ensure we continue producing value to be extracted by the ruling class. We need an economy that puts people’s basic needs — such as roofs over their heads — first, and not simply something we are granted if we work hard enough
4) We are an anti-racist organization, and support the struggles of the LGBT community.
People of Oppressed Nations and the LGBT community have long faced discrimination in housing. The former is especially apparent in Omaha, where years of “redlining” effectively segregated the city, making it harder for people of Oppressed Nations — particularly black people — to gain access to quality housing as well as fair mortgages and leases, which in turn systematically hampered these groups chance for economic upward mobility. The effects of these racist policies still haunt the way housing in Omaha is organized and distributed. We therefore recognize that in order to ensure fair, equal, and unconditional access to housing in the future, the systems of white supremacy and heteropatriarchy must also be combatted.
5) Our organization follows the Mass Line: “from the masses, to the masses”
This means we take leadership from the tenants we organize. We seek to identify problems people are facing, work with them to get organized, and find solutions to them. We do not simply do things for tenants as an act of charity, but work with tenants by ensuring they are involved in every step of the process so that they may be empowered to stand up and take more control over their own lives. We do not seek to get ahead of the people we work with by leading them aimlessly into risky situations, nor to we seek to lag behind their initiative and and hold them back when they want to demand more. Through education and organization, we simply act as a cipher through which the masses can express the class power and unlimited potential they already possess.