Organized Labor

[Editor's note: the piece below was first published in the print edition of the GEO Newsletter, issue 52, in May of 2002.  While Len's reflections here were sparked by the attacks of 9/11 and their political and social fallout, they speak directly, and clearly to questions which are again being asked by many in the cooperative movement - this time due largely to the results of the 2016 US Presidential elections.  How much should we focus on local economics and how much on national and international

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[Editor's note: Below are four videos from the CommonBound 2016 closing panel "Moving Forward with a Plan to Win."  Makani Themba of Higher Ground Change Strategies sets the stage by asking us to consider what exactly we mean by a "new" economy, and how our New Economy will relate to the old, i.e.

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The US economy is known for its powerful banks and transnational corporations, but behind the scenes an alternative economy based on cooperatives, worker ownership and solidarity is thriving. Laura Flanders, host of a TV show shares stories of this new economy and how the Next System Project is seeking to analyse and learn from these experiences in order to put forward systemic alternative policies that can deliver a more just and sustainable society.

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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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A diversity of kindred approaches to alternative political economics is emerging across the country.  Many of them share a regional focus. This is showing unusual potential for advancing the development of worker co-operatives through inter-cooperative and cross-sector networking.  We are calling this Regional Cooperative/Solidarity Economic Development (C/SE) (Please see the note below on why we are using this unusual phrase, “cooperative/solidarity.”)

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[Editor's Note: later this month, GEO and Level Translation will release an English edition of the most recent report on Argentina's recovered businesses (of which there were 311 in 2013, employing over 13,400 people).  The inspiring successes of the recovered business co-ops in Argentina--their failure rate so far has been less than 5%--no doubt has much to teach us, in the North, about how to successfully transition from capitalist to worker control.]

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This article was first published in GEO Newsletter Vol. 1, Issue 72/73, 2007

The contemporary U.S. worker cooperative movement is somewhat ambiguous about its relationship to capitalism.  Members of our movement today range in perspective from viewing cooperatives as an anti-capitalist tool of struggle, "embodying the world that we seek to build," to seeing them as worker-empowering additions to an economic system believed to be either inevitable or in need of only minor modification.

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[Editor's note: In the opening speech from this year's CommonBound conference, Ed Whitfield, co-managing director of the Fund for Democratic Communities (F4DC), discusses the necessary conditions for creating an economy that provides not only the knowledge, but also the means, for economic security to everyone on an equal basis.  He discusses the intersection of economic and environmental justice, the inherent biases of  our

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[Editor's note: This paper by Luenens, Sanudo and Schweigert appears in the forthcoming electronic release of The Cooperatives’ Power of Innovation: Selected Texts from the International Call for Papers, produced by the International Summit of Cooperatives.  In it, the

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The following is a personal story about corporate cooptation at my food co-op in Northern California, North Coast Cooperative Inc.

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It appears that the new formula for American private sector competitiveness is staring the country in the face.

The debate over who lost Detroit and how to fix it rages on while Politico reports in “Break-up-the-big-banks fever hits the states” that legislators from “at least 18 states have introduced resolutions this year calling on Congress to split up banking giants by putting back in place a wall between commercial banking, taking deposits and making loans, and investment banking, the world of traders and deal-makers.” It turns out that quarantining the banksters and salvag

Memory moves us as surely into the realm of what shall be as it moves us back to what has been: by extracting what is indeterminately lasting from the latter, it allows the former to come to us. --Edward S. Casey1

 

I see economic democracy at three main levels: 1) workers gaining greater control of the workplace and participating in management, 2) collectively controlling investment funds to benefit local and regional economies, and 3) democratically allocating resources through a national investment fund to achieve social goals.
The Union Co-op Model: this country’s largest industrial labor union teamed up with the world’s largest worker-cooperative to present a plan that would put people to work in labor-driven enterprises that build worker power and communities, too.
report from Credit Union National Association
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