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Worker Cooperatives:
A Powerful Force for Justice and Democracy

Worker cooperatives have the potential to become a powerful force for building economic justice and democracy in the United States and around the world. Dedicated and creative cooperators challenge the system of competition and greed at its very heart. They demonstrate, contrary to dominant economic wisdom, that businesses without bosses can survive and thrive. They prove that the democratic empowerment of workers can generate increased productivity, efficiency as well as worker health and well-being. They exemplify businesses that are locally-rooted, locally-controlled, and responsible to their communities. But most importantly, these cooperative enterprises spark our imaginations, deepen our beliefs in the power of solidarity, and show us that another economy―and another world―are not just possible, but are already emerging.

 

In this issue of Grassroots Economic Organizing, we have joined together with the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC)formed in 2004 to bring together worker owned and run businesses and their supporters across the U.S to create a collage of articles that highlight the power, creativity and potential of the movement for workplace democracy. The articles of this special issue highlight the upcoming historic gathering of worker cooperatives in New York City, October 13-15, the history and trajectory of the U.S. Federation, and a number of innovative and successful worker cooperatives across the country. In the "Forum" section, we explore the importance of building strong linkages between worker cooperatives and broader movements for social and economic justice. Only through concrete, cross-issue support and solidarity, many writers in this section suggest, can the movement for democratic workplaces succeed in growing into a truly transformative social force. (We invite comments from readers on this forum question, and will be convening a workshop around it at the USFWC Conference in October.) Other articles in the issue explore larger themes of global social movement organizing (Stone and Bowman's article on the World Social Forum) and long-term economic vision and strategy (Krimerman's reviews of books by Gar Alperovitz and David Ellerman).

 

This array of articles can only provide a glimpse into the vast world of workplace democracy and cooperation; for example, there are obstacles to building a fully cooperative economy which are not addressed here. Nonetheless, we hope they will inspire and inform our readers' ongoing work for economic and social justiceand attract many of you to the Federation's NYC Conference. (See www.usworker.coop for details.)

 

Many thanks to Jane Livingston and Melissa Hoover of the USFWC for their hard work assembling material for this issue, as well as to the many other cooperators who contributed ideas, texts and inspirations. We are excited to offer our pages to the USFWC in support of this hopeful and inspiring movement for economic democracy. Building on this collaboration as a model for future publications, GEO hopes to connect with other organizations and networks in the future with whom we might create "cooperative issues" focused on and in support of their work. Contact us at editors@geo.coop if your organization, initiative, or publication is interested in collaborating on a future issue of GEO. Our publication is a resource for change, and we at GEO hope to make these pages as useful as possible for those who are working to build a more just, joyful and democratic future.

In Cooperation & Solidarity,

The GEO Collective

 

 

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