Workplace Democracy

The Maker of "Capitalism: a Love Story" has some suggestions for action. They include, among other things, turning your workplace into a cooperative...
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Workers at an elder care home in Jefferson, Wisconsin are considering the conversion of their workplace to a worker-cooperative.
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Factory in the Hands of Workers

Zanon belongs to the people: FASINPAT wins definitive expropriation
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The theme of this issue is worker cooperative replication. It addresses an issue which is central to the growth of the democratic worker cooperative movement. How do we reproduce the success stories we have already achieved? That is, how do we replicate successful worker cooperatives in different locations? Inherent in the challenge of replication is a long standing conundrum of worker cooperative development. Replication is analogous to "franchising" in a capitalist company. Capitalist companies have a compelling motive to replicate successful stores - maximizing profit.

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By Jim Johnson, GEO Collective

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By Joe Marraffino, Arizmendi Development and Support Cooperative

Since the mid-1990s a group of worker cooperative organizers in the San Francisco Bay Area has been developing a new model for cooperative development.  Our organization, the Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives, is a network, incubator, and technical assistance provider that is owned, governed, and funded by the member workplaces it creates and serves.  Our primary activity is to replicate and offer continuing support to new retail bakeries based on a proven cooperative business model.   

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By Joel Schoening

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By Ajowa Nzinga Ifateyo, GEO

For worker cooperatives to be effective, member-owners should look at power relationships within and peform a "critical self-examination" of themselves and their co-op. That was one of the suggestions of the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond to worker-owners at the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives at the third biennial conference in New Orleans.

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Introducing the Green Mountain Spinnery, a worker-owned wool spinnery in Vermont.
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By Lauren Kozol 

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A school with no principals? It's like a shop with no bosses. Introducing "Teacher Cooperatives"!
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Green economics and racial justice
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By Len Krimerman

In 1995, the International Cooperative Alliance adopted seven cooperative principles to define and guide cooperatives throughout the world. Briefly stated, the "traditional seven" include: voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; member economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training and information; cooperation among cooperatives; and concern for community.

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By Lisa Stolarski

Both Hands in the Soil

There is an ethical imperative to shift the balance of economic power away from corporate Capitalism and toward economies that benefit us all. Beginning with this assumption, I will explain how it is possible for unions and worker cooperatives to collaborate strategically to take market share away from absentee-owned and wage labor capitalist enterprises and place control of resources and production in the hands of communities of working people.

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As labor organizers, we struggle in the field every day to improve the lives of workers; we are in search of tools and alternatives for working people that will meet the needs of today's casualized and insecure workforce, with shrinking or negligible benefits. It is in the spirit of innovative leadership that we propose that the labor movement use worker cooperatives, an alternative organizing strategy added to more traditional labor organizing methods, as a means of returning control of their lives to the American working people.
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While empathizing with those who feel a sense of "inevitability" in the face of today's powerful capitalist economy (and disagreeing with those who see it as generally acceptable), I hold firmly to the perspective that a more just and democratic economy is both necessary and possible. And I believe that the greatest chance of increasing and assuring viability for the workplace democracy movement may rest in our ability to keep our "eyes on the prize"; that is, on the long term replacement of capitalism?an economy which socializes costs and privatizes benefits?with an economy of democratic cooperation?in which costs and benefits are democratically and equitably shared throughout society.
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By Mario Osava, www.ipsnews.net
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By John Zippert, Federation of Souther Cooperatives

From August 16-18, 2007, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund will celebrate its fortieth (40th) anniversary and Annual Meeting. Growing from 22 cooperatives and credit unions organized by SNCC, CORE, SCLC and other civil rights organizations in the South in the 1960's, the Federation has worked with thousands of Black farmers and other low income rural folks over the past four decades.

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Interview by Jessica Gordon Nembhard

Shakoor Aljuwani is an organizer with the Home Coming Center in New Orleans. GEO Newsletter's Jessica Gordon Nembhard interviewed him in April 2007 about his work and progress with helping low-income residents return to New Orleans and rebuild their homes and neighborhoods.

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By Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis

On March 19, 2003, we were on the roof of the Zanon ceramic tile factory, filming an interview with Cepillo. He was showing us how the workers fended off eviction by armed police, defending their democratic workplace with slingshots and the little ceramic balls normally used to pound the Patagonian clay into raw material for tiles. His aim was impressive. It was the day the bombs started falling on Baghdad.

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