Workplace Democracy

From grocery stores and bakeries to bike shops and day care centers, worker-owned cooperatives are gaining popularity across the country. How are they faring in the recession? What solutions do co-ops offer for today’s recession/depression? If they gain even more popularity, could they transform the economy and the way we think it should work?

Guests include Dan Thomases, a founding member of Box Dog Bikes co-op, John Kusakabe of the Arizmendi Bakery co-op, and Hilary Abell of Women's Action to Gain Economic Security (WAGES).

 

 


 

 

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I still have a few more posts on the National Worker Cooperative Conference held in Berkeley last week, but this post isn't about the specific workshops, but a general feeling and vibe that I found at the conference (and at other conferences). The work of building a cooperative society isn't quite like other trade associations or business cultures.

We are not going to become the solution any time soon, but I believe that we have the opportunity to achieve a lot, like laying down a foundational strategy and infrastructure open to diverse approaches for the generation to come.
The mascot of the Alvarado Street Bakery (ASB) is an
orange and black cat, with a swinging tail and a sly
grin. Perhaps his feisty smile is the result of good
working conditions.
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A new video interview with Jim Hightower on "unemployment and worker cooperatives."

Watch it here!

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One of the formative questions of the contemporary worker cooperative movement has been that of who the movement is for.  What group of people are included in the movement's organizations, have access the movement's resources, share and shape the movement's values and the campaigns around those values?  

 

I am just going to briefly give my impressions and what seemed to me to be the highlights.  This was the first meeting I have attended, so I lack a lot of perspective.

The Toxic Soil Busters are a youth cooperative. These are "youth" in terms of age. They are located in Worchester, MA. They work to clean the soli of their community of the lead paint that was so heavily used by during the industrial age of this area. Since lead poisoning effects children in a more severe manner than adults (although still dangerous), this coop is essentially young people (non-adults) helping to clean the community of lead to help the generation behind them.

"How do we refashion ourselves as humans and deal with co-workers who either won't or can't refashion themselves."--Rebecca Kemble, Union Cab of Madison Cooperative and Director, US Federation of Worker Cooperatives

David Roach is doing incredibly important work in Oakland with Mo' Better Food, schools, intergenerational learning, farmer's markets, and other things.  He was our incredible improvisational tour guide of Oakland.

Ever run across this:

Lets be professional.  Lets not take it personally.

Most likely you have.  Maybe you see it as one of your better practices.  I woke up this morning gagging on it.

Ever run across this:

Let’s be professional.  Let’s not take it personally.

Most likely you have.  Maybe you see it as one of your better practices.  I woke up this morning gagging on it.

Ever run across this:

Let’s be professional.  Let’s not take it personally.

Most likely you have.  Maybe you see it as one of your better practices.  I woke up this morning gagging on it.

The Association of Cooperative Educators established the John Logue ACE award at its 58th annual conference in Cleveland July27-30, 2010. Ohio Employee Ownership Center staff members, Bill McIntyre and Logue's wife, Olga Klepikova, talk about Logue's work, vision, "moxie" and his impact on Ohio and the U.S. Other ACE awardees for 2010 are also mentioned.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF COOPERATIVES IN THE PITTSBURGH AREA By John Curl At the time of its incorporation in 1817, Pittsburgh was already a manufacturing center, with a population of around 6,000, supplying the western region with artisanal products almost entirely made by home industry. It had become a manufacturing center during the war of 1812, when the supply of British-made goods have been cut off in the region. In 1817 most manufacturing was still done by independent self-employed artisans using hand tools. But their livelihood was already threatened by the growth of a new system that was making their economy obsolete: factories and wage labor.
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Anti-Racism in the Workplace two-day training, August 9th & 10th, 2010, UC Berkeley.

The U.S. Federation for Worker Cooperatives has organized an intensive 2-day workshop as part of the conference.  Here's how conference co-organizer, kiran nigam, bills it:    

Permanent link to this article:  http://geo.coop/node/443

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Equal Exchange, one of the largest and most successful worker co-operatives in the United States, is pioneering a model to provide capital for new co-ops.
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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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