Worker Cooperatives

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

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 Innosanto Nagara


Design Action Collective is a fun, creative, place to work. We provide graphic design and visual communications services to activist, social change and other progressive organizations. We believe that social-change messages need to communicate effectively with their target audiences.

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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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By the Center for Family Life

The Challenge

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Fair work, fair wages, worker's control
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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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by Jim Johnson, GEO Collective

Past issues of GEO have reported on the emergence of a particular type of worker cooperative, the home care cooperative. In the 1980s, the federal government followed the lead of state governments like Wisconsin and acknowledged that elderly and disabled people who need help in day-to-day living are best served by in-home assistance. Medicare and Medicaid funding that would have otherwise been used only for nursing homes would now be applicable to home care services.

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A school with no principals? It's like a shop with no bosses. Introducing "Teacher Cooperatives"!
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A radical cooperative press in Boston, since 1977.
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A solidarity trade organizing effort in Greece
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A Biodiesel Worker Cooperative describes the world of globalized biofuels.
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People's Grocery is making speedy progress from a mobile organic food service cooperative towards developing a worker-owned cooperative grocery store in West Oakland in which local food and sustainable agriculture will be prioritized in a community health model centered on nutrition education for low-income residents of the community. At the same time, the cooperative is taking their business development goal beyond the single cooperative grocery store to a broader community development initiative focused on establishing a commercial and health service complex.
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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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