Heard Around Town

Unions join chorus of ‘good cause’ backers

Over a dozen labor groups are calling on state leaders to include the tenant protections in the budget.

The powerful 1199SEIU union is backing eviction protections.

The powerful 1199SEIU union is backing eviction protections. Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

With just days before the budget deadline, tenant advocates are doubling down on their push for “good cause” eviction. In a new letter to state leaders shared exclusively to City & State, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and the United Federation of Teachers added their voices to the chorus of supporters for the tenant protections. 

The two politically powerful unions – who previously had not weighed in on the legislation – were among over a dozen unions who signed onto the letter. Labor powerhouses including 1199SEIU, District Council 37 and the Hotel and Gaming Trades Council had previously backed the measure and added their names to the new letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul, state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. “You have acknowledged that tenants are at a breaking point and in need of relief now,” the letter reads. “‘Good Cause’ would deliver that relief – with no impact to the budget – and help our members and your constituents remain in their homes.”

Hochul has resisted calls for the tenant protections, excluding them from the housing agenda in her budget proposal and declining to offer her support on multiple occasions when asked about “good cause” eviction. In their one-house budget proposals, both chambers of the state Legislature offered a level of support for the measure. The Senate wrote that it backs “the core principles of good cause eviction,” while the Assembly said it would “explore pathways to protect tenants from arbitrary and capricious rent increases and unreasonable evictions of paying tenants.”

The new letter from unions comes on the heels of a similar letter signed by over 100 landlords from across the state. It represented a break from the norm in the debate as prominent groups representing landlords have lobbied strongly against the measure. The coalition Homeowners for an Affordable New York, which counts the lobbying powerhouse Real Estate Board of New York as a member, has been at the forefront of the opposition. 

Backers of “good cause” have also put additional pressure on state lawmakers after state judges have begun striking down local versions of the tenant protections passed over the last couple of years. In their decisions, judges have repeatedly said that such protections must get approved at the state level.