Category Archives: CWOP

Community Education: Co-ops 101 and  A Report from the Field 

By Abbie Harper 

The paradox of noble-cause corruption, unethical actions taken in pursuit of the greater good, is so prevalent in the non-profit sector that it’s become normalized. And due to the United States government’s ongoing divestment in public health, we have no choice but to rely on these organizations to access social services and support. But what kind of “support” repeatedly results in systemic violence being inflicted on marginalized individuals and communities? And what kind of “support” industry fails to support its workers? Every larger system is responsible to the people who make it work, as well as to the people it serves. Both direct service delivery and efforts at larger social change are undermined in an eroding environment that fails to support its workers.
Continue reading Community Education: Co-ops 101 and  A Report from the Field 

Co-op Any Town – Building a Solidarity Economy in place with guests to the class “Cooperative Management for a Changing World”

Author: Rob Persons, SLU MA student

The economy doesn’t work for the vast majority of people. Wages are low, costs are high, and employers treat workers like replaceable cogs. The system needs to be changed, but mainstream politics doesn’t seem up to the task. Where will the change come from? Continue reading Co-op Any Town – Building a Solidarity Economy in place with guests to the class “Cooperative Management for a Changing World”

Dolphin school and BCC partnership

Dolphin Schools
Brooklyn Communities Collaborative and Community Worker Ownership Project Fellowship

As a culminating event for our graduate certificate in Workplace Democracy and Community Ownership five Fellows pitched their ideas to a convening of colleagues, comrades and “Dolphins”, (note this was not your standard Shark Tank). With stakeholders, community partners and some financial investors, we discussed four proposals, each grounded with a deep goal of improving social determinants of health in Central Brooklyn. Continue reading Dolphin school and BCC partnership

Partnerships Expand Education for Worker Cooperatives!

 The semester has taken off with some strong partnership with the Community and Worker Ownership Project.

In early September we presented at the US Federation of Worker Coops at an in-person conference in Philadelphia where we partnered with many to explore the ways and reasons to pursue unionized cooperatives. Speakers included Richard Wolff from Democracy @ Work along with SEIU 1199, Cooperative Home Care Associates, United Food and Commercial Workers, Coop Cincy and  SEIU United Healthcare West! We were joined by Kafui Attoh, another faculty member from SLU.  Continue reading Partnerships Expand Education for Worker Cooperatives!

How Unions and Cooperative Together Build Worker Power

How Unions and Cooperative Together Build Worker Power

By Brandi Alduk

On April 26th, the SLU Alumni Association invited us to have a conversation about our project at CWOP. We focused the discussion on unions and Co-ops together to help facilitate stronger connections between workers and control of their industries. We were joined by SLU Alumni, union organizers, and professors from the CUNY School of Labor Studies. Continue reading How Unions and Cooperative Together Build Worker Power

Employees at REI Co-op move to unionize!

The Community and Worker Ownership Project stands with workers and their chosen representation to exercise their power at work. We need unions to help us be the best we can be as business pressures can otherwise push workers’ safety and dignity to the margins. Unions protect workers’ interests and raise the floor for workers and businesses in adjacent industries and geographies. 

The Union Co-op Council of the US Federation of Worker Coops has issued  this statement.

Co-Ops And Labor Unions Work Hand In Hand: USFWC Supports REI Workers’ Right To Unionize

Posted on January 25, 2022

The U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives celebrates the workers at the REI co-op location in New York City who have announced their intention to form a union with the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). We strongly urge REI Co-op, and all other companies who are proudly part of the cooperative movement, to embrace their workers’ right to representation in a union, and recognize that unions play a key role in a strong cooperative ecosystem.

To that end, the USFWC has dedicated time and resources to building up this relationship for more than a decade through its Union Co-ops Council, a space focused on building worker power in coordination with organized labor. As the Council noted in their statement from 2021, the cooperative movement and the trade union movement both have deep roots in liberation struggles for economic independence. Labor unions and cooperatives are not an “either/or” option of organization but work together in solidarity to achieve similar goals. Worker power and self-determination, be it through worker co-ops, labor unions, or both together, are key to the better world we hope to build.

Rather than “getting between the co-op and the members,” unions can strengthen the relationship between workers and owners in a consumer co-op. Just as the consumer members join in collective action through a consumer cooperative to have a meaningful voice in the marketplace, workers join in collective action through a labor union to have a meaningful voice in the workplace. We encourage consumer members to engage the principle of solidarity with the workers who create the value of the cooperative.  

The Union Toolkit for Cooperative Solutions, developed by Union Co-ops Council member Rebecca Lurie and Bernadette King Fitzsimmons, delves into some of the incredible success stories of cooperatives and unions coming together to help workers and businesses flourish across the United States. 

Whether a consumer co-op like REI or a worker co-op in our membership, unions offer accountability and stability for workers in cooperatives, with representation and voice in the broader market of the industry. Workers know what they need to live well and do their jobs well.  From small shops to big name cooperatives to corporations, the USFWC proudly stands in solidarity and cooperation with workers organizing across the globe.