"Their strong connection to one another, and to their community, provides real benefits: the three cooperatives distribute marketing literature for one another at least three hours each month; present at conferences together; host collaborative events; and are all part of Sunset Park’s community time bank. Members of the three co-ops have started up a babysitting collective internally. Most importantly, they have the mutual support and backing of one another. It’s a true social network, says Jackie: “The best thing we’ve gotten out of this is the camaraderie that we’ve gained—we talk, and say ‘How are you doing right now?’"
"The cooperatives offer a unique solution to the growing problem of unemployment in the Sunset Park neighborhood, where many residents are Latino immigrants. The three co-ops currently provide 46 jobs for residents of Sunset Park—jobs that empower their members to take control of their lives and livelihoods. It’s a different experience than wage labor, explains one member of Beyond Care: “We’re gonna turn it around. We’re gonna be the bosses.”
Rodney North, "Answer Man" for Equal Exchange, talks about the cooperative's mission, history, farmer relationships, and interfaith program as part of an environmental video series [non sequiter eco-tips bookend the chapters].
TeamWorks has started with a housecleaning cooperative in San Jose, CA, and they have plans for expansion.Some useful organizational planning documents, written by David Smathers Moore, are available on their website:
"So our challenge is not what to do with the business when it’s time to retire, but how to successfully navigate the transition to Generation Two. The oldest amongst us are now in our sixties. During the next 10 years there will be many retirements. For nearly a decade now we have been working on this new task by carefully hiring young, dedicated, passionate people to carry on. Seventeen of our 28 employees are currently owners; the youngest of these is 34. During the next year several more thirty-somethings will join the group of owners. One of these just turned 30. The transition is in full swing."
The work of WAGES and the Eco-Friendly Cleaning Network (previously) is recognized by the Levi Straus Foundation for their asset-building work in a short video. "WAGES builds worker-owned green housecleaning cooperatives that create healthy, dignified jobs and build assets for low-income, immigrant women. Its strategy is to facilitate development of cooperative businesses that lead to both sustainable livelihoods (income) and wealth accumulation (assets such as business equity and retirement) for their members. The innovation takes a holistic approach to asset development by infusing wealth and asset creation along with the development of core skills and the opening of job opportunities for low-income, immigrant women."
"Why abolish human rentals? Can the problems with the human rental contract (employment contract) be fixed simply by legislating and enforcing better treatment and compensation for workers? By analogy was there anything wrong with slavery that couldn’t be fixed by legally requiring the benevolent treatment of slaves combined with effective enforcement of those laws? Or was there something else wrong which required the abolition of slavery under any conditions? "The ownership or rental of humans both seek to violate the same inalienable rights, namely a person’s of decision making authority and responsibility for their actions. The issue at stake is the legal non-personhood of the slave or employee. While the specific treatment of people matters, we must also ask whether the structure of working relationships is internally consistent with people providing labor. In the case of both human ownership and human rentals they are not."
"Alvarado has created great working environment for its diverse group of worker owners, most without formal education. The bakery, which reaches out to previously unemployed individuals in its hiring process, provides good benefits, including a comprehensive health plan, retirement saving account, extensive training, company paid ESL classes, and assistance with ongoing education. Because Alvarado is an employee-owned business, worker owners are trained in reading financial statements. The average employee tenure is a decade, and after that many of the worker owners have gone on to open and manage their own successful businesses."
“This is a significant award for the bakery and it is national recognition of the significance of what we do here at Alvarado Street Bakery. As a worker owned co-operative we like to think we are focusing on providing quality jobs and that we are looking after our workers. Receiving an award like this tells us that we are doing just that and that again we are providing corporate America with an example of a sound business that takes pride in looking after every worker with good working conditions, a living wage and quality benefits. This award following the recent positive focus on the bakery in the Michael Moore movie 'Capitalism, A Love Story' wraps up a great year for us at ASB.” Tuck also pointed out the bakery’s new solar panels. “The solar project will supply around 40% of the Bakery’s yearly electricity needs, enough electricity to power around ninety homes.”
Over the past five years, the Cleveland Foundation used its influence to enable discussions for the first time among the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and Case Western Reserve University about how they could pool their collective buying power. The foundation also led the effort to create new worker-owned cooperative companies based on the promise of such spending. So far, two companies -- Evergreen Cooperative Laundry and Ohio Cooperative Solar -- are up and running and employing 52 workers. Another, Green City Growers, is set to launch... The cash and loans from Living Cities will enable the foundation and its local partners to create eight or nine more worker-owned cooperatives by 2013. The companies could, for example, clean and maintain medical equipment, or assemble sterile kits of materials for use in hospitals.
"...they were told that the bulk of Select Machine’s value was in its client list. Much of the rest of the assets — including its employees — would most likely be jettisoned after a sale.That gave the owners pause. “These are our guys, our family, and we wanted them to keep on working,”
When my colleagues, the editors of this publication, asked me to write a brief piece explaining why I got into cooperative development, I responded that this posed a perhaps insurmountable difficulty: briefly explaining how I arrived at the life-changing conclusion that (trumpets, please) There Is No More Important Social Change Work You Can Do Than Cooperative Development. I mentioned that I'd been thinking of writing an essay arguing that— while chaining oneself to a tree might be sexier; while blockading WTO meetings might seem more “front-line”; while busting-out Starbucks windows might seem more cutting-edge—There Is No More Important Social Change Work You Can Do Than Cooperative Development (hereinafter, TINMISCWYCDTCD). The editors responded with the generous offer of feature space in order to accommodate the TINMISCWYCDTCD argument. So, the editors having called my bluff (giving me enough space/rope to hang myself), here I am pounding out my Cooperative Manifesto.
In the following section, I've laid out six conclusions I reached some dozen years ago (in my mid-twenties) that premised my decision to devote myself to cooperative development. Before launching into those conclusions/premises, I wish to clarify that I don't use the term “cooperative development” in some restrictive sense to mean only starting new cooperatives or expanding/restructuring established ones. For me, anything that a member does to improve her/his cooperative or help it achieve its mission is cooperative development (could be excellent customer service, could be developing personnel systems). I'll argue herein that all such cooperative development work is inherently important social change work.
This guide explores how worker cooperatives, when configured in a network, can promote progressive, place-based, endogenous economic growth. Here, we present two successful cooperative network models, Mondragon and Evergreen, and then offer a general framework for how to grow a cooperative network in any city. This guide is one of several products generated through the Collaborative Thesis Project.
The Madison worker cooperative association, MadWorC, creates a nifty newsletter designed for their cooperatives to hang up at their workplace for workers and customers alike to read. The "newsposter" is decorative and informative and presumably keeps used copies from littering all about the office. Nice design!
In the midst of mounting economic insecurity, fueled by widespread unemployment, foreclosures and budget cuts, many are seeking alternative models to business as usual. From community gardens to bartering networks, grassroots efforts are sprouting up across the country. One pillar of the trend is an international institution with over 160 years of experience in local, sustainable economic development: a cooperative.