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Why Teaming Up with Unions Might be the Best Way to Build the Co-Op Movement

Source: Truthout.

A growing number of unions are successfully turning to the cooperative model to fight for worker’s rights.

The year 2008 was when the big banks were bailed out, but it was also the year that catalyzed one group of window makers into democratically running their own factory.

On the former industrial hub of Goose Island in Chicago, the employees of Republic Windows and Doors made headlines after they were locked out of their jobs just before Christmas without the back pay or severance they were owed. Organized by the United Electrical Workers Union, these displaced workers did exactly what the ownership hoped they wouldn’t do. They refused to quietly accept the layoffs. Instead, the workers engaged in a sitdown strike at their factory, garnering local and national media attention. Eventually, the employees won the occupation, forcing Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase (Republic’s primary creditors) to create a fund to give the workers their back pay, benefits, and health insurance. This became viewed as a much-needed victory for workers and unions in a desperate economic time. read more

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When the Workers Become the Owners: Taking the Co-op Movement to the Next Level

Source: Truthout

There’s a revolution taking place in the US workforce – but you may not have heard about it.

Around the country, workers are starting businesses that they democratically control and that financially benefit them. These businesses, called worker cooperatives, are owned and governed by the employees. Every worker is a member of the co-op, which gives them one share and one vote in the company’s operations.

Worker cooperatives come in all shapes and sizes. Equal Exchange, a distributor of fair trade chocolate and coffee, has over 100 worker-owners, with a board of directors and co-executive directors, all ultimately accountable to the employees. My own worker cooperative, TESA (The Toolbox for Education and Social Action), has three members, and we operate with a more horizontal, collective governance structure. Cooperative Home Care Associates is a cooperative that has thousands of worker-owners and a traditional management hierarchy. Pedal People is a bicycle-powered trash, recycling and compost removal co-op with roughly 15 members; they all serve on the co-op’s steering committee and make decisions for the company using consensus. read more