This workshop's aim is to engage participants in showing the common sense of horizontally organized worker cooperatives in the US as a viable economic, political and ecological alternative to the current dominant business models.
Heather Mitchell is a queer anarchist activist and co-director at Ecology Action a horizontally run worker cooperative. She has been involved in many social justice groups over the last 10 years with focuses on labor, AIDS, LGBQT and the environment. She has a Bachelors of Science in Gender Studies and Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon.
Susannah has been active in prisoner rights and support, labor and environmental justice for eight years. She is the co-director of a books to prisoners project Inside Books which has sent free books to Texas inmates for 15 years. She is also co-director of the worker cooperative Ecology Action of Texas.
scott crow is an anarchist community organizer, writer and speaker. He is the co-founder of the Common Ground Collective. He has worked for many groups, including Greenpeace and A.C.O.R.N. He was labeled a “domestic terrorist” by the FBI in the late 90’s and investigated for a decade. He has appeared in media as both a writer and a subject. He is the author of the book 'Black Flags and Windmills', travels for speaking and is co-director at an anarchist worker-run cooperative in Austin.
When times get hard, people often are forced to create their own livelihoods. The current economic crisis has seen an upsurge, especially in poor and marginalized communities, of efforts to create worker cooperatives. This workshop will explore the potential of cooperatives to not only create jobs, but also to consciously contribute to community revitalization and inform alternative strategies of community economic development. This workshop will look at examples of cooperative development in low income communities from the Jersey Shore, NYC and Springfield, MA. We'll discuss lessons about replicating these models along with the economic and community impact of this work.
Al Campbell is Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Utah and a member of the Steering Committee of the Union for Radical Political Economics. His research concerns the problems with capitalism and considerations concerning possible alternatives. One recent research topic has been the Mondragón cooperative complex, and in particular what aspects of it could be modified and used in various very different settings in the US, such as Evergreen or more traditional workers’ coops.
Fred Rose is Co-Director of the Wellspring Initiative which is developing worker cooperatives in Springfield, MA. He spent 15 years as the lead organizer of the faith based Pioneer Valley Project, in Springfield where he organized on issues of job access, neighborhood redevelopment, school reform and worker rights. He is currently a Research Fellow at the Center for Public Policy and Administration at UMass, Amherst and has a doctorate in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University.
Djar Horn, a socialist and organizer, has worked as a union organizer, a carpenter and a member of a worker coop. She completed her MSW in Internat’l and Community Dev. from Monmouth Univ. where she focused on the development of Solidarity Economy (SE) and Social Movements. She works with the American Worker Coop-NJ a housekeeping and construction coop. She continues to support the work of the Jersey Shore Neighborhood Coop and its start-ups: a Pinata and a Youth Interpreter/Translator coop.
As the capitalist economy is in a state of rapid decline, the panel examines the historic and contemporary relevance of workers cooperatives as an alternative to capitalist and private ownership of property and enterprises. The panel explores the trajectory of worker control in the comparative national contexts and its challenge to capitalist domination.
Chris Michael is the Founder and General Partner of Workers Development, a firm that is pioneering the use of innovative financing techniques with respect to the unique needs of worker cooperation. In addition, he is completing a JD/PhD (Politics) at the City University of New York with a focus on cooperative financial structures and community economic development. Chris is also very active with the Worker Cooperative Federal Credit Union (Proposed) and the NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives.
Carl Davidson is national co-chair of Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, and national board member on Solidarity Economy Network.
Ethan Earle is U.S. Director of The Working World: USA, which works closely with existing cooperatives and is seeking to advance new organizations in New York City. The Working World provides support for cooperatives in Argentina, Nicaragua, and the U.S.
Peter Ranis is professor emeritus of political science at the Graduate Center, CUNY. His most recent articles on cooperatives, eminent domain and the working class in the U.S. and Argentina were published in Monthly Review, Working USA and Socialism and Democracy. He is active in the PSC/CUNY, the faculty/staff union affiliate of the AFT.
Jessica Gordon Nembhard is a professor at John Jay College / CUNY and member of the Solidarity Economy Network
This panel will involve a discussion among four grassroots organizers who will explore current successes with the worker cooperative movement as well as challenges. Jalal Sabur (confirmed) is a young African American organizer in the food justice/food sovereignty movement and will speak about his recent experience moving to a cooperative farm in upstate New York and his work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Vanessa Bransburg (Center for Family Life) will speak about her experience with immigrants and women in building worker cooperatives locally. Alex Jackimovicz is a student of the Progressive Utilization Theory (PROUT) from Maine and will speak about the role of cooperatives in Prout's post-capitalist vision for a fair and balanced economy. A member of Community Voices Heard will also participate on the panel and share CVH's approach to ending poverty. The panel will be moderated by WESPAC's Executive Director, Nada Khader.
Nada Khader has been the Executive Director of WESPAC Foundation, a peace and justice action and educational network, since May 2001. She is responsible for running the day-to-day operations of the non-profit organization that has served the region since 1974. WESPAC works on a range of issues dealing with social, economic and racial justice, and is especially concerned about promoting a just resolution to the various conflicts in the Middle East.
Jalal Sabur is the founder of the Freedom Food Alliance, a network of urban and rural food justice activists. They use food as an organizing tool for environmental, food, prison and economic justice. He has recently moved to upstate New York to help start a farming cooperative as part of the Freedom Food Alliance. He works with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Southern Black Farmers in Vermont.
Vanessa Bransburg is the Coop Coordinator at the Center for Family Life in Sunset Park. She works with immigrants and women in helping them establish cooperatively owned and managed businesses in the area of childcare, cleaning services and painting.
Alex Jackimovicz is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst having studied Social Thought Political Economy and with a Bachelor's in Concepts of Identity in Social Theory. Licensed Master Electrician in Maine, and avid student of alternative economics and PROUT.