GEO 73/72 (I)

Worker Coops Unite! Collaborative Double Issue with the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives

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.
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.
Regions: 
Institutions & Structures: 
Movements & Struggles: 
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.

Practices, Tools & Strategies: 
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.

Regions: 
Movements & Struggles: 
Practices, Tools & Strategies: 
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.
Regions: 
Movements & Struggles: 
Practices, Tools & Strategies: 
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.
Regions: 
If in 2001 the World Social Forum was "the birthplace of global civil society"-namely all social groupings between the public realm of the state and the private realm of the family-what should it be when that society grows up a bit? Many feel that a change is needed. Explaining her absence from the 2006 WSF, Arundhati Roy said "[it] has now become very NGO-ized [non-governmental organizations]...it's just become too comfortable a stage. I think it has played a very important role up to now, but now...I think we have to come up with new strategies."
Visions & Models: 
According to its publisher's publicity release, America Beyond Capitalism "offers hope for the future." The evidence offered for this hopeful scenario is two-fold: first, that a vast array of diverse micro-level economic alternatives, consistently ignored by the mass media, is developing throughout every region of this beleaguered land; and second, that these neighborhood-, community- and state-based alternatives are heading us towards a "radical restructuring," a new homegrown all-american macro-system-beyond capitalism, beyond socialism, neither liberal, conservative, red, or blue-which Alperowitz calls a Pluralist Commonwealth (PC).
This is a remarkable book. The author, having worked within the World Bank for a decade, knows whereof he writes. And he tells us that almost all development assistance is self-defeating-misguided at best if not deliberately harmful. And that's just the tip of an enormous iceberg that spans across every helping field. That is, as Ellerman puts it, every field in which some humans ("helpers") try to get others ("doers") to do something: parents/children, teachers/students, managers/workers, medical professionals/patients, counselors/clients, etc.
Subscribe to RSS - GEO 73/72 (I)