Workplace Democracy


This presentation was part of the "Alternatives to Capitalism: The Solidarity Economy Perspective" event run by The Institute for Solidarity Economics & STIR Magazine on October 18, 2016.

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How does sociocracy work in a worker-owned coop? Hear Joe and Peggy, worker-owners of the Blue Scorcher bakery in Astoria, OR (USA). They have been using sociocracy for a while and they share their stories and best insights. How does sociocracy change the group dynamics? Are non-owners part of the self-governance? What happens when we talk about money? How did they afford to get their training? Follow the tour behind the scenes for some real-life experience!

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[Editor's note: This post is Part II of an essay by Michael Johnson. In it he proposes a democratic movement strategy that emphasizes a strong cultural component. In Part I he argued that culture is a powerful factor in political and economic dynamics, but currently almost all strategic thinking focuses just on structures and systems.

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[Editor's note: This post is Part I of an essay by Michael Johnson. In it he proposes a democratic movement strategy that emphasizes a strong cultural component. In Part I below he argues that culture is a powerful factor in political and economic dynamics, but currently almost all strategic thinking focuses just on structures and systems.

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SOS Faim met with the NGO Autre Terre, a development organisation that takes advantage of its experience in Social and Solidarity Economy in Belgium to strengthen and support economic development project in Africa and Latin America...and that also benefits from the experiences of its partners in the South to strengthen its own activity in Belgium.

Radical Routes, a network of co-operatives working for social change are looking to raise £15k for a women‘s worker co-operative bakery in Kobane a city rended apart by the long civil war in Syria, but now being run under democratic principles as an autonomous region.
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Jessica Bonanno from the Democracy Collaborative and Adam Trott from the Valley Alliance of Worker Cooperatives. The Democracy Collaborative has been doing important work around community wealth building, one of their most notable projects being the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, OH.

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[Editor's note: below are video profiles of three worker cooperatives.  Each of these cooperatives have benefited from Local Enterprise Assistance Fund (LEAF) loans. LEAF’s mission is to promote human and economic development by providing financing and development assistance to cooperatives and social purpose ventures that create and save jobs for low-income people.

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[Editor's note: this history of the Evergreen Cooperatives is the first of a two-part series written by Atlee McFellin, who was intimately involved in the Evergreen Cooperatives as a consultant and then an employee of the Democracy Collaborative from February, 2011 until November, 2012.  Part one focuses on some of the usually unmentioned contradictions inherent in the "anchor-institution model" of co-op development, and details how those contradictions played out in the particular case of Evergreen.  Part two will look more closely at the role of the Democracy Collabor

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Originally published in GEO vol. 1, issue 44, 2001.

We all want to get away from top-down management. We don't want to tell people what to do, or be told what to do. Yet if it weren't for the inspired leadership of a few dedicated people, many co-ops wouldn't exist. Since in worker-managed co-ops we are going to have leaders—in fact we're all leaders at times —we need democratic leadership. But what is that?

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[Editor's note: this talk was delivered in Cuba, during a trip organized by the Center for Global Justice in June, 2016.]

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Abstract

This paper provides an explanation of why worker cooperative startups are rare. If true worker ownership is to be maintained in the startup period where losses occur, members face either a 'pay to work' or 'expected investment loss' problem. Founding members must either pay money to cover the losses resulting from their labor, or make investments upfront which will be expected to decline in value as losses occur. These two issues are completely foreign to modern finance and current labor practice, and also ignored by the worker coop community.

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Cities are investing in support systems for worker cooperative development as a tool for sustainable and equitable economic development.
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The public, the people, will find a way to create forms we cannot even imagine, forms that could solve problems that seem insuperable to us. So what is needed is this constant creative activity from the public, and that means mainly everybody’s passion for public affairs. ~Cornelius Castoriadis [1]

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Originally published in GEO vol. 1, issue 61, 2004

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[Editor's note: Below are four videos from the CommonBound 2016 closing panel "Moving Forward with a Plan to Win."  Makani Themba of Higher Ground Change Strategies sets the stage by asking us to consider what exactly we mean by a "new" economy, and how our New Economy will relate to the old, i.e.

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[Editor's note: the following short article was first published in 2001, in GEO Newsletter #44: Democracy within Co-opsCollective Copies now has 33 years in operation and is still going strong.]

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