Worker Cooperatives

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

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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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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The cooperative business model is very popular in Vermont. Why is that? By Stephen Morris.
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For those not familiar with Cooperative Maquiladora Mujeres de Nueva Vida (COMAMNUI) please visit www.jhc-cdca.org.

Dear Friends,

We urgently need your voice NOW! Someone is trying to steal our land, and we need you to write in our support!

We normally don't write this kind of emergency letter, but this time it's critical that you know now, pass the word, and respond. The volume of international response will have a strong effect. There is a sample letter below with an email address.

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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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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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By Robert C. Marshall

As the baby boom ages into the elder explosion in the world's industrial nations, more and more innovative solutions will appear in the effort to provide seniors with the many sorts of care they deserve and to which they are entitled.

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(adapted from stories in the Alexandria Times, and The Examiner -Eds.)

"Alexandria's taxi monopoly has been broken," said Syed Hussain, a driver and president of Alexandria Union Taxicab Company, a cooperative cab service owned and operated by its drivers. The worker-cooperative opened for business earlier this year seven miles south of Washington, D.C. The co-op operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

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By Mary Hoyer, ECWD Lead Organizer

For the first time since its inception in 2002, the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy (ECWD) will be held in the South. The 2007 regional conference will be co-hosted by the Federation of Southern Co-ops/Land Assistance Fund (FSC/LAF) and the Southern Appalachian Center for Cooperative Ownership (SACCO).

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By Robin Hahnel

Worker-owned cooperatives are wonderful alternatives to privately owned, capitalist firms. Workers can decide what they want to produce and how they want to produce it instead of having all that decided by their employers. In other words, workers can take control of their laboring capacities and use them as they see fit. Moreover, whatever benefits come from their efforts belong to them, not to an absentee owner who did none of the work.

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By Maria Trigona

Inside the BAUEN Hotel, one of Argentina's worker-run workplaces, janitors, repairmen, receptionists and maids sit in an assembly with worried but determined faces and sheets of paper in hand. Each of the workers, some of whom have been working at the hotel since it was built in 1978, hold a court ordered eviction notice, a judicial document notifying the workers they must abandon the hotel or police will force them to leave.

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