Worker Cooperatives

Businesses that are owned and democratically controlled by their workers/employees (called "worker-owners").

Let's try to get both a firm grasp and a large perspective on "regional co-operative/solidarity economic development," and what it has to do with “advancing the development of worker co-operatives.”

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Many people, including those in the labor and worker co-op movements, think that unions and co-ops are singularly mismatched.  Logic has it that worker co-ops don’t need to be unionized since workers own and manage their businesses, and that workers in labor unions just naturally aren’t entrepreneurial but rather are used to resisting “the boss.”  In addition, people may be familiar with large agricultural co-ops in the Midwest that fight with unionized workers, or with food co-ops that resist worker unionization.  

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Uber and other so-called sharing economy companies are nothing more than fronts for wealthy capitalists to make money by exploiting workers and avoiding regulations. Worker-owned cooperatives like Madison, WI's Union Cab offer a better alternative that protects workers and customers and helps build wealth within communities.
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Cooperative organizing, development, and technical assistance services are needed in upstate New York.  This void has been slowly—very slowly—shrinking for decades.  It is hoped that the creation and evolution of the New York Cooperative Network between 2011 a

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In order to create a fully cooperative society, co-ops of all varieties need to reach out to other, similarly-aligned groups, such as racial, social and climate justice movements. Groups such as Solidarity NYC and the Southern Grassroots Economies Progect (SGEP) are already working along these lines. Len Krimerman suggests adopting an 8th co-operative principle to address this reality. Keywords: solidarity economy, co-ops, regional development, social development
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In Ferguson and St. Louis, solidarity economy activists are coming together with social justice advocates to create innovative ways of fighting for justice in their communities. Keywords: MORE, Decarcerate St. Louis, cooperatives, poverty, #BlackLivesMatter
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Considers the difference between cooperative economics and economic democracy. The two viewpoints are not the same. The potential for collaboration between cooperators and proponents of economic democracy is explored as are methods for injecting economic democracy into consumer and producer co-ops. Keywords: cooperatives, co-ops, economic democracy, democracy, solidarity economy, governance.
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For the last six months, a coordinated dialog has been taking place among a number of the key worker cooperative development and networking organizations in the Bay Area community, a collective initiative to lift the movement onto a higher scale, and make a truly significant regional impact. The Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives (NoBAWC) has been a participant in this process.

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by Josh Davis

Something struck me as odd while I was looking through the slide presentation of the recent public opinon poll conducted by NCBA and Consumer Federation of America.  The poll looked at knowledge of cooperatives and attitudes about them in the general population.  One of the slides breaks down respondents to the survey by educational attainment level.  Here it is:

This Swedish documentary film on worker-owned cooperatives considers some of the most common criticisms of cooperative businesses and confronts them with real life experiences from worker owners from the US. Worker co-ops, cooperatives, solidarity economy
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Worker Cooperatives – An Alternative for Youth

By Alexander Kolokotronis

Worker cooperatives are rising, and youth are increasingly becoming a part of their success. In the United States youth involvement in cooperativism is taking on two forms: multi-chapter college-campus groups with strong connections to the broader cooperative movement, and youth themselves starting non-university based cooperatives.

 

Campus Student Groups – SODA and Aynah

 

The 2014 Worker Coop Academy helped two existing worker cooperatives to improve their business practices. Mandela Foods Co-op streamlined produce ordering and display, while DIG co-op developed a business plan and mapped out improvements to their by-laws. New Economy, Solidarity Economy, economic development, business education.
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WORKER OWNED: In Their Own Words is a 30 minute documentary about the Linnton Plywood Association. LPA was a worker owned cooperative formed in 1952 to manufacture plywood. With a down payment of $1000 each, about 180 men committed to purchase a share in LPA for $5000. The remaining $4000 for each members share was to be paid over time from their earnings as workers in the new operation. All workers were paid the same hourly rate for whatever job they did.

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By Alexander Kolokotronis

(please take survey at conclusion of this piece)

Cooperativists often posit this: the cooperative movement is a movement of movements. Or, more broadly speaking, the solidarity economy movement is a movement of movements. Many of us believe this is true in the present. In many ways it is.

[Editor's note: this webinar, organized by Project Equity and the Democracy Collaborative, includes presentations from worker-owners at Namaste Solar and Mariposa Gardening and Design, as well as co-op developers from The Cooperative Development Institute and the Democracy Coll

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A documentary film by Dario Azzellini and Oliver Ressler about the factory RiMaflow in Milan, Italy, which has been recovered by the workers after the former owners engaged in a fraudulent bankruptcy. The facility used to make auto parts but is now run as an open factory and is owned and controlled by its workers as a worker cooperative.
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If cooperative and solidarity economy organizers are serious about creating democratic, cooperative culture, they need to focus more on working in middle and high schools.
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