For the sake of our communities and our environment, our economy will need to transform. But how? The language of “economic democracy” points us in a direction, but in order to make concrete advances and replicate successes, we need to be clear about just what a democratic economy consists of. A new resource from The Next System Project can help guide the way:
Traditional policies and approaches are demonstrably failing to alter deteriorating long-run trends on income inequality, concentrated wealth, community divestment and displacement, persistent place- and race-based poverty, and environmental destruction. As a consequence, we have witnessed in recent years an explosion of interest in and practical experimentation with a variety of alternative economic institutions and models of ownership—from worker cooperatives and community land trusts to public banking and community development financial institutions—that are capable of fundamentally altering patterns of ownership and producing dramatically better distributional and other outcomes as a matter of course. New hybrid forms are emerging, as well as ideas as to how innovative combinations might produce still more powerful results. Taken as a whole, these institutions and approaches form the mosaic of a new democratic economy in the making, suggesting the contours of a next system beyond corporate capitalism and some pathways for getting there.
Elements of the democratic economy distills this landscape of theoretical exploration and real-world practice into concise summaries describing each of the institutions involved, assessing their transformative characteristics and potential impact, and providing on-the-ground examples and a sense of the challenges yet to be overcome. The series is intended as an entry point for all those looking to understand the various building blocks of the democratic economy currently being constructed from the ground up in communities across our nation and around the world.
Explore sections on community land trusts, democratic energy utilities, resident-owned communities, limited equity housing cooperatives, and green banks. Check it out here.
This month was the bi-annual Labor Notes Conference of the “International Troublemakers and Boat-Rockers Union.” Those who have never been before can imagine it as the place where grassroots union and worker organizers meet union leadership on their terms, led by those previously left out of leadership in our unions. Youth, women and people of color speak, lead and shine.
At this year’s event in Chicago, Verizon workers and teachers led the day. With 3,000 attendees, the conference had workshops and panels celebrating and teaching the hard-learned ways to organize for deepening democracy and justice at work. Continue reading Dispatch from the Labor Notes Conference→
In 2007, the UnionCo-ops Committee was conceptualized at the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy (ECWD) in Asheville, North Carolina where Lynn Williams (USW) was keynote speaker. The council then became part of the U.S. Federation of Worker Co-ops and has met monthly since, helping building local and national connections between worker co-ops and labor unions.
The Murphy Institute is proud to have been affiliated with the great work of the cooperative network of NYC. With the support of the NY City Council, the City’s Small Business Services and the Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative (WCBDI) we celebrate over 180 business entities helped through this initiative. With 13 local community based or business development organizations giving services, the Murphy Institute has become a partner where training is hosted and meetings are held.
Under fierce attack from the corporate sector, labor unions are exploring worker co-ops as a way to organize new members, save members’ jobs, create new jobs, and build community alliances. Presenters from NYC, Cincinnati and beyond will share their unions’ experiences with these experiments. Through panels, small group discussions and networking opportunities participants will explore how the co-op business model can help to strengthen and expand our unions.
Ellen Vera – National Manufacturing Organizing Coordinator, IUE-CWA; cofounder, Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative
Mary Hoyer – cochair, UnionCo-ops Council of US Federation of Worker Co-ops
Carmen Huertas-Noble – director, CUNY Law School Community & Economic Development Clinic, legal expert on unionized worker co-ops
Keith Joseph – 1199SEIU rep for Cooperative Home Care Associates, the US’s largest worker coop
David Hammer – ICA Group, consultants to unions on business conversions
Brendan Martin, director, The Working World, which supported the launch of New Era Windows in Chicago
Arturo Archila – United Steel Workers NYC, helped launch a unionized co-op
Roger Green, director, Bunche-DuBois Center for Public Policy Research, Medgar Evers College
Sponsors: UnionCo-ops Council of US Federation of Worker Coops, Murphy Institute for Worker Education & Labor Studies-CUNY, NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives, FPWA, 1Worker1Vote.org
In honor of the birthday of W.E.B. Du Bois, who amidst other great accomplishments authored Economic Co-operation Among Negro Americansin 1907, the Murphy Institute hosted a forum on Friday, February 28th to explore the stories, struggles and successes of workers who have taken control and bettered their lives through the cooperative history of African-American communities, and ask how we can apply those lessons to contemporary struggles locally and around the globe.
Missed the forum, or want to re-watch it? Check out video coverage from the event below: