December 4, 8:30 -10:30am
The Murphy Institute
25 W. 43 Street, 18 Floor
The local movement of worker cooperatives, supported by the City Council, has increasingly caught the imagination of workers and organizers. What is the potential and what are the limitations of worker co-ops in building a movement for economic and social justice? To what extent does the co-op model enable working people to create secure jobs with decent pay and dignity, and, in doing so, begin to envision a new economy? What is the nature of organized labor’s role in this new movement?
- Amy B Dean, Editorial Board Member, New Labor Forum; Fellow, The Century Foundation; Co-author, A New New Deal: How Regional Activism Will Reshape the American Labor Movement
- Roger Green, Director, Dubois-Bunche Center on Public Policy, Medgar Evers College; collaborating on a conversion of hospitals to cooperative ownership models
- Adria Powell, Executive Vice President, Cooperative Home Care Associates
- Melissa Risser, Attorney, Urban Justice Center’s Community Development Project; co-founder of 1worker1vote.org
Want more on worker cooperatives, solidarity economies, and the role of organized labor? Join us at the Murphy Institute on December 4th for our upcoming Labor Breakfast Forum, Solidarity Economies: Worker Coops.
This article originally appeared at Grassroots Economic Organizing.
By Christopher Michael
In the 1980s, the British government supported a comprehensive system of local worker cooperative support organizations (CSOs). The first CSO was formed in Scotland in 1976. By 1986, approximately 100 CSOs spotted the country — with higher concentrations in urban areas. About 80 of these CSOs were funded — mostly by local municipalities — with full-time staff at an average of three employees. In tandem, Parliament chartered a national “Co-operative Development Agency” with a 1978 bill — which aided the growth of local CSOs, served as a “safety net” for regions without CSOs, collected statistics, and acted as government liaison with regard to new legislation.
These government-funded support organizations engaged primarily with low-income, ethnic minority, and female entrepreneurs. CSO staff members provided training courses on worker cooperatives, direct technical assistance, and also loan financing at an average of $50,000 (current U.S. dollars) per worker cooperative. This ten-year experiment produced approximately 2,000 new worker cooperatives — and almost none exist today. Continue reading What is Worker Cooperative Development?
A Growing Hybrid-Model-Movement Ripe for Political Consolidation
By Michael Peck
In America, the world of work has already changed beyond conventional wisdom sense perceptions and the willpower capacity of elected politicians to understand and embrace it. This workplace relationship tsunami, “a historic shift that rivals the transition from farms to factories,” calls out the anachronistic redlining between company and society, employee or independent contractor, worker versus manager, part-time as opposed to full-time, blue or white collar, as well as unions or work councils.
Today’s wrenching workplace issues — wage theft, eligibility for overtime pay, equalizing and standardizing worker classification, elevating minimum wage standards including the federal minimum wage, overtime protection, facilitating employees of contractors and franchise operations to achieve a collective bargaining agreement — constitute many of the most necessary but still wholly insufficient solutions to the problems at hand. The existential dilemma facing the world of work is that these problems together with traditional remedies have lost their time-space moorings. Continue reading Pope Francis & the Moral Right to “Own Our Labor & Rent Our Capital”
On March 30th, the Murphy Institute hosted “Building a Worker Coop Ecosystem: Mondragon Meets the Five Boroughs,” a public conversation featuring Frederick Freundlich of Mondragon University and moderated by Stephanie Guico.
The conversation began with an explanation by Freudlich of the Mondragon network of worker coops in the Basque region of Spain. The network includes approximately 120 cooperatives and 130 affiliates or subsidiaries, all working across four broad areas — manufacturing, retail, finance, knowledge — and creating a livelihood for approximately 74,000 people. Freundlich discussed the history of the Mondragon system, tracing its origins back to the Spanish Civil War and describing the emergence of ancillary institutions, such as the cooperative bank, that have provided resources and support to the cooperative network throughout its development. Continue reading Coop Event at Murphy Draws Large Crowd
By Liam K. Lynch
In a city becoming increasingly unaffordable and out of touch with the needs of city workers, and an urban society based in consumption, hyper-gentrification, luxury, commercial and tourist real estate, the need for economic alternatives and an offensive strategy to combat unsustainable practices looms large.
A study published earlier this year by the Center for Economic Opportunity revealed that almost half of New York City’s population is living near poverty. Moreover, City Comptroller Scott Stringer reported that over a period of 12 years between 2000-2012, rents increased by over 67%, while real median income dropped by almost 5%. With these numbers playing a real role in the lives of many here in the city, something needs to be done.
Worker-owned cooperatives may be an answer. Continue reading Worker Coops and Labor, Past and Future