With the support of the Street Vendors Association, Chicago Community & Worker’s Rights, and the University of Chicago’s Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship, some of those street vendors decided it would be best to open their own shared kitchen as a worker-owned cooperative, managing their space collectively as equals. They’re calling themselves Cocina Compartida de Trabajadores Cooperativistas — Cooperative Workers Shared Kitchen, and they just bought a building.
It might have had something to do with who Chicago’s street vendors are, says Martin Unzueta, founder and director of Chicago Community & Worker’s Rights. His organization has worked with street vendors for more than a decade, and has been working with the street vendors who became CCTC since 2016.
There are an estimated 1,500 street vendors across the city, according to Illinois Policy.
“Ninety-nine percent of [Chicago] street vendors come from Mexico, normally from poor communities, and normally they are very close to organizers of co-ops,” Unzueta says. “In Mexico, it’s called ejidos.”