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.
In a burst of entrepreneurial spirit, the workforce development field is showing new enthusiasm for an old idea: creating “social enterprises” to employ low-income jobseekers.
The theory is enormously appealing. We can create good jobs for constituents who have a hard time finding work elsewhere and the profits will help fund our nonprofit organizations. The reality, however, is far more complicated.
He then draws out a series of recommendations for business. I would punctuate one aspect of what he recommends to draw together the best practices of workforce development and business development for a social purpose:
Even more powerful is a ‘systems strategy’ that leverages change, beyond the walls of the enterprise, into the broader labor market.
When we go into the business of a social enterprise for social impact, we are aiming to improve the lives of the workers and the people in the community where the business exists. By systems thinking, we think yet broader than the labor market strategy and pay attention to the community where the industry exists. Continue reading Taking a Systems Approach to Social Impact→
In honor of the birthday of W.E.B. Du Bois, who amidst other great accomplishments authored Economic Co-operation Among Negro Americansin 1907, the Murphy Institute hosted a forum on Friday, February 28th to explore the stories, struggles and successes of workers who have taken control and bettered their lives through the cooperative history of African-American communities, and ask how we can apply those lessons to contemporary struggles locally and around the globe.
Missed the forum, or want to re-watch it? Check out video coverage from the event below:
Black History Month is here — and we must declare Black Lives Matter well beyond any one month.
Dr. Phil Thompson shares some important facts and insights in a recent article in the New Labor Forum, “The Future of Urban Populism: Will Cities Turn the Political Tide?“ He clearly lays out that the generations of inequality and disparate opportunities between the races stems from capitalism and its use of race as a tool to create and maintain the underclass, slavery, disenfranchisement, mass incarceration, poverty, low mortality rates and economic injustice.
Trade unionist Jimmy Reid described alienation as ‘the frustration of ordinary people excluded from the process of decision-making.’ This frustration is endemic in contemporary neoliberalised economies, and according to commentators, including George Monbiot, it contributes to the rise of populist backlashes and disempowerment.
Unions play a vital role in counter-balancing alienation and frustration, responding to organizations imposing alienating practices on their workers. However, neoliberal policies have contributed to a long-term decline of union membership and influence in the Anglosphere and elsewhere.
Please join Melissa Hoover from Democracy at Work Institute and Rebecca Lurie from the Murphy Institute as we gather with workforce training professionals and cooperative developers to discuss, debate and strategize on the efficacy and potential for worker-owned coops to create good jobs and healthy community economic development. Steven Dawson, (visiting Fellow at The Pinkerton Foundation and former president of PHI) and Adria Powell, (Executive Vice President and President-elect of Cooperative Home Care Associates) each have spent years developing this work in the Bronx and in the home care industry. They will help us to dig deep into these approaches that lift the floor for jobs standards and lift the spirit for workers as they become owners and exercise control in their workplace.
Cooperative Home Care Associates is the largest worker-owned business in the nation, with over 2,300 worker-owners in the Bronx. Over 15 years ago they signed a contract with SEIU1199 and are also the largest union represented worker coop in America. While the movement for worker-ownership grows and expands with support from our city government, we will have the chance to ask hard questions, challenge our thinking and together think about the direction this strategy can take towards more just work place and better businesses.
Democracy at Work Institute expands the promise of cooperative business ownership to communities most directly affected by social and economic inequality. The Institute is the only national organization dedicated to building the field of worker cooperative development, with a focus on scale and equity. It meets a growing need for research, coordination of existing resources, development of standards and leaders, critical discussion of models, and advocacy for worker cooperatives as a community economic development strategy.
The Joseph S. Murphy Institute Center for Labor, Community and Policy Studies at the City University of New York serves as a resource center to labor, academic, and community leaders seeking a deeper understanding of labor and urban issues. The Center designs workforce development programs in partnership with unions and their labor-management training funds. The institute has a Bachelor’s degree in Urban and Community Studies and Master’s programs in Labor and Urban Studies. The Community and Worker Ownership Project is designing education and training programs for cooperative ownership and community engagement. RSVP by November 11th.
A conversation about workers, communities and social justice