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Worker Co-op News

Worker Co-ops economic control economic planning economic justice technological unemployment labor

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#1
caltrek

caltrek

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We actually had a thread dedicated to Worker co-ops in one of the other forums of this site.  It turned out for me to be a repository of news articles on the subject.  Such a repository is needed for reasons similar to that of a thread on news and discussion of global climate change.  To counter the many myths and ignorance surrounding the subject.  Somehow the other thread is gone.  In some ways a good thing in that it more properly probably should have been placed in the News and Current events.  So I am starting this thread to rebuild a data base on this topic.

 

I should say that I learned a lot in posting article in the other thread.  Mostly, I was surprised at how extensive the existence of worker co-ops really is in this society. To address an argument brought forth in a thread in the history forum, it showed me how reformist methods can gradually over time bring about tremendously dramatic changes in things as fundamental as who owns and controls the means of production.  Worker owned co-ops can introduce a form of UBI for people and their children that needs no further legislation by politicians.  It is an answer that often times both hard core socialists and capitalists can embrace. It can also encourage mechanization and organization to increase productivity that workers can feel comfortable about because they still can retain a stake in the enterprise in question.  

 

So, without further introduction, let me start with a few articles from Nonprofit Quarterly.

 

Worker Co-ops Develop New Paths to Raise Outside Capital

 

https://nonprofitqua...utside-capital/

 

Introduction:

 

(Nonprofit Quarterly) Founded in the 1980s, Equal Exchange “currently earns around $70 million a year in revenues, and has around 150 employees,” reports Oscar Perry Abello in Next City. It is also a worker cooperative.

 

“Being a worker cooperative,” notes Abello, “means every worker has an equal say and an equal ownership share in the company. It doesn’t mean every worker has to vote on every day-to-day decision within the business. But on major decisions, this structure helps to guard against making drastic changes such as sacrificing wages and benefits for the sake of profits or shutting down their existing roasting facility and moving it hundreds or thousands of miles away.”

 

A key challenge that worker co-ops can face is raising the capital they need. It’s not hard to understand the problem. A worker cooperative’s owners are the workers themselves, who each have an equal share in the company. And since they have 100 percent voting control of the company, you can’t sell voting shares to people who are not worker-owners in the cooperative.

 

Let’s say the share price is high—even $10,000 a worker. With 150 workers, that would get you to $1.5 million in worker equity. That sounds good, but hardly likely to be sufficient for a company with $70 million in sales. And because we are talking about a coffee roasting company…well, you’re not going to raise even $1.5 million in worker-owner equity, either. (In reality, the amount of worker equity at Equal Exchange in 2016was a tad below $377,000.)

equal-exchange-coffee.jpg


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#2
caltrek

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UK Co-operative Party Report Outlines Plans to Double Co-op Sector’s Size

 

https://nonprofitqua...p-sectors-size/

 

 

Introduction:

 

(Nonprofit Quarterly) Earlier this month, the Co-operative Party in the UK released a report “outlining a strategy to double the size of the UK’s cooperative sector by 2030,” writes Aaron Fernando for Shareable. The Co-operative Party aligns with the British Labour Party. At present, 38 MPs (members of parliament) out of Labour’s 259 seats are also Co-operative Party members. Last year, the Labour Party’s manifesto (party platform) contained the express commitment “to double the size of the cooperative sector in the UK.”

 

In an attempt to make that commitment workable, the Co-operative Party commissioned a report authored by Mathew Lawrence, Andrew Pendleton, and Sara Mahmoud from the New Economics Foundation (NEF), a London-based think tank. Titled Co-operatives Unleashed, the study, notes Fernando, “reviews the current state of the co-op sector in the UK, features case studies from other European nations, provides a snapshot of existing hurdles for the co-op sector, and offers policy recommendations for advancing this sector.”

 

In 2017, the United Kingdom had about 6,000 co-ops with 13.6 million members. While impressive, in a nation of more than 65 million, this is less than many countries. “Germany has a co-operative sector four times the size of the UK’s as a proportion of GDP and France six times, while in the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, and New Zealand co-operatives amount to between 5 and 10 percent of GDP compared to 2 percent in the UK,” note Lawrence and his colleagues. In short, the goal of a UK co-op sector that’s double the size is certainly achievable.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#3
caltrek

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Why Building a More Democratic Economy Matters for Nonprofits

 

https://nonprofitqua...for-nonprofits/

 

Extract:

 

(Nonprofit Quarterly) There is no need to exaggerate. Community ownership is hardly the dominant feature of our economy. After all, if it were, we’d be living in very different world. But community ownership is a far greater part of our economy than is generally understood. These entities provide, if organized, a base from which to build a more democratic economy and polity.

 

For example…. Credit unions, which are cooperatively owned banks, also enjoy significant scale, with membership growing from 95 million to 114 million in six years. Total assets are now $1.433 trillion, a $408 billion increase over six years. Relatedly, community development financial institutions (CDFIs), while smaller than credit unions, have also expanded, from less than $2 billion in assets at the time economist Hyman Minksy and his colleagues advocated federal support in the early 1990s, to over 1,000 federally certified CDFIs as of 2015, with an estimated $121.6 billion in total assets, a 60-fold increase in the space of just over two decades.

 

I could go on and describe other entities, such as worker cooperativescommunity land trusts, and public banks, as well as newer forms of democratic decision-making and resource allocation like participatory budgeting. One exciting development is the emergence of a movement for platform cooperatives—that is, cooperatives where workers own the apps and share the profits; think of a worker-owned Uber. Supporting all of this is an emerging ethos that valorizes local democratic control and distributed ownership. Economist Michael Shuman notes, “Every place I go, I see signs that say buy local, eat local, bank local. I have never seen the sign, ‘We are not local—buy from us.’ To me, that’s a great victory: We have won the war of ideas.”

 

…We see it in Minneapolis and St. Paul, where Hmong residents are organizing a land cooperative and Black residents in North Minneapolis are organizing a community credit union. We see it in Indian Country, where the Lakota, Apache, and others use business as a tool to build resilience and health.

 

Share-wealth.jpg

Bruce Krasting / share the wealth


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Worker Co-ops, economic control, economic planning, economic justice, technological unemployment, labor

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