Worker Cooperatives

Businesses that are owned and democratically controlled by their workers/employees (called "worker-owners").

My co-op rocks! You want some proof? We even have a dinosaur on our roof!

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This May, Baltimore played host to an Economic Democracy Conference, organized by It's Our Economy.  We've rounded-up coverage  from across the web so you can read reports from the conference, listen to conference organizers and watch video of conference sessions--all in one place.  If you couldn't make it to the conference, this round-up is the next best thing!

Here's a report from It's Our Economy:

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[Editors note: Collective Courage can be purchased online from PSU Press here.  Use the code JGN14 at checkout to recieve a 20% discount. Please encourage your local libraries and co-ops to purchase a copy of this important resource.

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Approaches for creating sustainable livelihoods assume that a rural household has the ability to make rational decisions to respond to often changing opportunities and constraints, including those offered by markets. In sync with this assumption, envisioning livelihood opportunities for illiterate and unskilled populations (particularly women) has been the most coveted goal of every development agency, both within government and beyond.  While sustainable livelihoods are desirable, they are not easy to attain and there have been few success stories. (Gillet et al., 2008).

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Located in downtown Buenos Aires, self-managed workers in Hotel BAUEN are appealing for international support as they confront the threat of eviction. Hotel BAUEN is one of over 200 worker-recuperated enterprises (empresa recuperada por sus trabajadores) operating under worker control.

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[Editor's note: this is the first part of a two-part series. Read part two here.]

 

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It appears that the new formula for American private sector competitiveness is staring the country in the face.

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Last summer, I was interviewed in Vienna, Austria by “Dr. Future,” i.e. Allan Lundell and his wife, Sun Marian McNamee-Lundell. We were joined in the conversation a couple of times by Franz Nahrada, who had brought us together here in his hotel. It was quite an interesting conversation about how our economy generates scarcity and about some possible alternatives, and I am sharing the audio file with you here.

This interview, shot May 2013 in Oakland, CA begins to introduce an idea that has been floating through my mind the past several years around the need for community colleges (in particular) to include training on cooperatives in their business programs, not as a form of  "kinder, gentler capitalism" but as community-based, capital subordinated business models hewing to the seven International Cooperative Principles.  The unemployed have headed back to community colleges to upgrade skills or to learn new skills. One of our local community colleges has a trades program.

A continuing conversation with Thomas M. Hanna of the Democracy Collaborative, cross posted from Cooperate and No One Gets Hurt

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A new worker-ownership evolution-revolution featuring more virtuous capitalism communities of practice is demonstrating that doing well can realistically and profitably be based on doing good. This brave new economic world is emerging from green-shoot, “made in America” antidotes to structural unemployment and income inequality, sprouting ubiquitously among increasing absentee-owner-plagued urban and rural geographies.

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This article is originally appeared on www.truth-out.org

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By Mike Leung

 

This article deals with the conversion of an existing business to a worker-owned cooperative. Specifically, it lays out a basic strategy for allowing employees of a profitable company with publicly-traded securities to effectively convert to a worker cooperative in the absence of owner permission.

 

The Mondragon Cooperative Group is ranked not only as the world’s largest worker-owned industrial cooperative group, but also as the top Basque industrial group, tenth in Spain with 80,000 personnel, a presence in 70 countries, and winner of the 2013 Financial Times “Boldness in Business” award.

Think of democracy as a garden: structures would be the plants and culture the soil. The soil will determine the quality of the plants more than the plants the quality of the soil. Plant democratic structures in conflicted soil and you get a mix that seriously lacks cooperation and collective power.

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