Category Archives: CWOP

Community and Worker Ownership Project

Launched in September 2016 the Murphy Institute’s Community and Worker Ownership Project (CWOP) seeks to support undertakings in worker-owned cooperatives, worker participation and control and the development of grassroots leadership in community decision making. Working alongside labor and community organizations and partners in the university the project will develop non-credit courses and new coursework for degree programs and offer public programming and research opportunities — all to advance the thinking and doing of cooperative ownership and shared management practices towards economic democracy.

Video: Reconstructing Economic Development for People and Planet: Stories of Just Economic Democracy

On Friday, May 11th,  in collaboration with Democracy @ Work New York, the Murphy Institute hosted a fascinating panel exploring how progressive local innovations stand to solve long-standing, seemingly intractable issues around poverty and inequality. Panelists included:

  • Michael Menser, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Brooklyn College, Earth and Environmental Science and Environmental Psychology at the CUNY Graduate Center, Chair of the Board of The Participatory Budgeting Project, and author of We Decide! Theories and Cases in Participatory Democracy
  • Gabriela Alvarez, Chef and founder of Liberation Cuisine, a catering company dedicated to preparing meals collectively with sustainable ingredients and practices. Alvarez recently took her passion for healing and organizing with food to Puerto Rico to help with relief and rebuilding efforts
  • Kali Akuno, co-founder and co-director of Cooperation Jackson, a network of cooperatives and worker-owned enterprises and the author of Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Black Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi
  • Yorman Nunez, Program Manager at Community Innovators Lab MIT and coordinator of Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative

Miss the panel or want to experience it again? Watch it here:

In New York City worker cooperatives, participatory budgeting, and community land trusts are on the policy platform of the City Council’s progressive caucus and elected officials in the democratic party are pushing legislation for employee and worker ownership at the state and federal levels. With greater visibility and support from the public sector some believe that these pilots and experiments for neighborhoods to drive wealth creation and capture and create equitable economic opportunities can reach into broad-based and mainstream policy.

There is an opening here to expand the horizon of what is seen as possible for genuine equitable urban economic development, and its relationship to labor, communities and the political economy. In short, we can change the conversation from mostly pushing for greater accountability and transparency in the existing economic development order, to a conversation about what should come next and what policies and institutions would be a part of getting us there.

 

The Scarcity of Worker Cooperatives in the USA: Enquiring into Possible Causes

By Rebecca Lurie

Last year, the Community and Worker Ownership Project and John Mollenkopf at the Center for Urban Research at the CUNY Graduate Center were pleased to host Professor Sofia Arana Landin for research on cooperative economics in New York City. Her work was extensive in building foundational thought for a comparative study of cooperative enterprises’ success and challenges in the US as compared to other countries, especially in the European Union.

Professor Arana teaches taxation law and cooperatives at the public university in San Sebastian, Spain. Arriving to the states shortly after the inauguration of the 45th president for this research, the juxtaposition of opportunities and constraints was almost too much to bear. Nevertheless, she persisted.

Cooperative businesses, being a hybrid of “for profit” and “social” purposes, have a mission broader than that of a traditional business. Continue reading The Scarcity of Worker Cooperatives in the USA: Enquiring into Possible Causes

Dispatch from the Labor Notes Conference

By Rebecca Lurie

This month was the bi-annual Labor Notes Conference of the “International Troublemakers and Boat-Rockers Union.” Those who have never been before can imagine it as the place where grassroots union and worker organizers meet union leadership on their terms, led by those previously left out of leadership in our unions. Youth, women and people of color speak, lead and shine.

At this year’s event in Chicago, Verizon workers and teachers led the day. With 3,000 attendees, the conference had workshops and panels celebrating and teaching the hard-learned ways to organize for deepening democracy and justice at work.    Continue reading Dispatch from the Labor Notes Conference

Comparative Studies in Cooperative Economies – EU and USA

By Rebecca Lurie

María Pilar Alguacil Marí, Professor of Financial and Tax Law at the University of Valencia, recently spent time at the Murphy Institute for Labor and Urban Studies/CUNY, where she has carried out various academic activities and taught two seminars.

The first seminar, “Academic Study of Cooperative Economics,” was held on April 2nd and dealt with the different methodological concepts around social economy and cooperatives, such as the nonprofit, or “third sector” approaches, as well as other emerging concepts: social enterprises, collaborative economy, and more. The relevance that these subjects have in the university studies in Spain and Europe was also explored. The seminar ended with a debate among the attendees, who described the situation around cooperative economic education at CUNY, and expressed the need to increase university training in cooperatives. Continue reading Comparative Studies in Cooperative Economies – EU and USA

Union Coop Council Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary

In 2007, the UnionCo-ops Committee was conceptualized at the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy (ECWD) in Asheville, North Carolina where Lynn Williams (USW) was keynote speaker. The council then became part of the U.S. Federation of Worker Co-ops and has met monthly since, helping building local and national connections between worker co-ops and labor unions.

Watch this 8 minute videos about Union Co-ops and the council’s 10th Anniversary:

See the full video playlist here.

Individual Videos:

  1. Full Version (35 mins)
  2. Anniversary Video (8 minute, fully captioned)
  3. Video Specific to Union Co-op Council (2:30)
  4. Video Union Co-ops in general (6 mins)

Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative Marks 3rd Anniversary

The Murphy Institute is proud to have been affiliated with the great work of the cooperative network of NYC. With the support of the NY City Council, the City’s Small Business Services and the Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative (WCBDI) we celebrate over 180 business entities helped through this initiative. With 13 local community based or business development organizations giving services, the Murphy Institute has become a partner where training is hosted and meetings are held.

Read the third annual report here.