Networking & Collaboration

How do we create a competitive advantage through the worker coop model when we treat ourselves so much better than the workers in our industry and pay for the higher cost of 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.
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.

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.

...we are coming to our national worker co-op conference sounding the theme that worker co-ops are the solution. My worry, however, is...

A striking depiction of one million organizations working for a better world.  By Chris Jordan

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High-Energy Gathering Fires Up A New Generation of Activists in U.S. Left and Social Movements By Carl Davidson Keep On Keepin' On! When 15,000 vibrant and politically engaged people gather in one spot for five days and organize themselves into more than 1000 workshops, dozens of major plenaries and late night parties across five major cultural hot spots, no one article can claim to give a full account and get away with it. But an event on that scale livened up Detroit, Michigan during the week of June 22-26 at the US Social Forum, when Cobo Hall and several nearby universities were buzzing with thousands of people trying to shape a new world. 15,000 Attend Detroit Social Forum I won’t even try to capture it all. I’ll just affirm the common conviction that it was a major happening on the left and a huge success, an inspiration and an affirmation of hope that progress is being made towards a better future. Then I’ll humbly offer my take on it. We’ll start with some highlights and, for those who aren’t familiar with the Social Forum movement, offer a few explanations.
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Permanent link to this article: http://geo.coop/node/440

By Aaron Dawson, Equal Exchange

In reflecting back to the 2009 Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy, what impresses me the most is how much more action it has generated since the meeting! This is exciting to me as I have been to five worker co-op conferences and this is the first time that I feel so much movement is happening on so many levels.

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Permanent link to this article: http://geo.coop/node/410
by Michael Johnson, GEO Collective

Tuesday November 3 marked a milestone for the book project of the Valley Alliance of Worker Cooperatives (VAWC).  Food for Thought Books, a 33-year collective and member of VAWC, hosted an advance book sale for CO-OP VALLEY! THE WORKER COOPERATIVE MOVEMENT IN THE CONNECTICUT RIVER VALLEY.  They organized the event to help finance the writing and publishing of the book.
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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 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 Erbin Crowell

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By Len Krimerman, GEO

I went to the Green Union Coop Development Initiative workshop at the "Democracy at Work" Conference in New Orleans (June, 2008) with very high hopes. Somehow, the Conference organizers had managed to bring together, in a large and over-filled room, committed and inventive practitioners from the labor union, cooperative, and green economy movements. The speakers spoke with clarity and passion about:

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Visions for "simultaneous, co-locative pluralistic systems."
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Several years ago a group fo folks started a GEO group on Yahoo groups. Over the years different people acted as custodians/ownsers of the group. It was passed on to me a couple of years ago.

Since we have this forum, I'd like to delete that one. There has been no activity in a very long time. I will post one message to it suggesting that folks come to this website.

 If I don't hear any objections, I'll delete the Yahoo group in about a month. Please post a reply if you have any thoughts.

 Cheers,

William Cerf

Brooklyn, NY

 

 

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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 brainstorm on strategies for local economic development
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