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.

Photos: Cooperative Events at Murphy

By Rebecca Lurie

This Thursday, the worker-owned cooperative Action OSH hosted their Grand Opening at the Murphy Institute, celebrating the National Day of Workers’ Health and Safety. Along with allies from the Center for Family Life, United Steel Workers, NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives and the Murphy Institute Community and Worker Ownership Project and elsewhere, this group will bring knowledge and power to immigrant workers in our city.  We stand proudly in support of this team of educators and activists

Later in the day, the Murphy Institute Community and Worker Ownership Project joined with Green Worker Cooperatives to welcome Luis Alberto Duenas Casal from Cuba. He is a co-founder of the Cuban worker cooperative SCENIUS and a leader in the Cuban cooperative movement. Following Principles #5 and #7 of the international creed for coops, “Education, Training and Information” and “Concern for the Community,” we learned through conversation and presentation how the economic transformation in Cuba is supporting a redesign of their Social Economy.

Friends and comrades enjoyed a full day of learning and networking!

 

Taking a Systems Approach to Social Impact

By Rebecca Lurie

In a recent paper on the Pinkerton Foundation website, Steve Dawson describes how social purposes business can accomplish business growth and social impact:

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

Video: From Economic Crisis to Economic Democracy

In honor of the birthday of W.E.B. Du Bois, who amidst other great accomplishments authored Economic Co-operation Among Negro Americans in 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:

We invite you keep this conversation going.

Join us at the bi-annual Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy, June 9-11, 2017 in NYC.

If you’d like to deepen your study of economic democracy, consider enrolling in our fall course, “Economic Democracy Against Economic Crisis: Work and Wealth in the Next Economy.” Please contact Rebecca Lurie, Program Director for Murphy Institute’s Community & Worker Ownership Project for more information: 212- 642-2080 or rebecca<dot>lurie<at>cuny<dot>edu.

Black Communities Leading the Movement for Economic Democracy

By Rebecca Lurie

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.

Thompson identifies all the challenges for a new progressivism, and yet notes that, “…change is very possible. There are already hundreds, if not thousands, of small initiatives underway in cities to disrupt or reverse these dominant negative trends.” He then challenges us to make a movement of these efforts. Continue reading Black Communities Leading the Movement for Economic Democracy

Union Cooperatives: What They Are and Why We Need Them

By Simon Taylor

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.

But workers and unions can counter alienation and other negative effects of neoliberal policies – such as outsourcing, precarity and union decline – in new and imaginative ways. Continue reading Union Cooperatives: What They Are and Why We Need Them

Community-Driven Social Change in the Age of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

How can we make sense of the organizing coming out of today’s social change and resistance movements?

In a new article coming out in the Fordham Urban Law Journal, Professor Michael Haber connects many of today’s most important movements—from post-Occupy community organizing to the rise of the worker co-op movement to parts of the Movement for Black Lives—by looking at how activists’ growing understanding of the non-profit industrial complex has led to the creation of a new framework for social change practice, what he calls the community counter-institution. Continue reading Community-Driven Social Change in the Age of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex