April was a very exciting month for the Community and Worker Ownership Project at SLU. We hosted the new school’s first faculty conference; “Our Economy! Economic Democracy and System Change,” giving us the opportunity to gather several hundred people to have shared conversations about what would it take to take to scale practice for economic democracy. What policies should we be promoting? What should we be teaching? How are we doing it?
Later in the month, CWOP coordinator Rebecca Lurie visited Wellspring Cooperatives, a cooperative development organization in Springfield, Massachusetts that works closely with organized labor and U. Mass at Amherst. While there, Rebecca spoke at the Pioneer Valley Central Labor Council and the Western Mass Affiliate Labor Federation as part of their Annual Training Conference and Workers Memorial Day Ceremony. She talked about unions and coops and where they overlap with vision and mission for worker dignity, offering expanded approaches with the notion of worker and community ownership and control. People enjoyed the discussions, and representatives from as varied as the International Machinists Association and the Ironworkers local and the United Food and Commercial Workers all had ideas for their markets where control is being wrestled and pathways to ownership are being forged. Members of IAM were especially proud of their union’s role in Maine, organizing hundreds of those in the lobster world to control their market.
The Urban Studies Department at U. Mass, Amherst hosted a luncheon to have conversations across the curriculum to explore the disciplines where people are talking about cooperative practices, with attendees from the Urban Studies, Urban Planning, Labor Studies, Women Studies, Philosophy, and Economics departments.
At the end of the month, Rebecca was a guest on Rick Wolff‘s show Economic Update. She was asked about the conference earlier in the month and asked to share the vision for this work both at SLU and in the broader world of social change for equity, peace and justice. Check out the video below.
If you want to see the full episode, you can find it here.
And finally, but far from least, SLU will have two summer classes this coming semester on this topic, one at the graduate level, cross listed in our two departments, graduate level and undergraduate; “Theory, Practice and Principles of Cooperative Enterprise Management.” Consider it a summer immersion in Cooperative Management. Bring your ideas of the business you may love to turn into a co-op or any enterprise we may want to shift into a more democratic paradigm. Look to your work as a place to be the change you want to see in the world!