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Cooperative

How Lobstermen Formed A Union Co-Op To Claw Back Fair Prices

When you think of workers hamstrung by the “independent contractor” label, you probably don’t think of Maine lobstermen. But it turns out that lobstermen—a title claimed by women as well as men who catch and sell lobster for a living—have something in common with warehouse temps and Uber drivers. As independent contractors they’re denied the collective bargaining rights and various other workplace protections and benefits afforded (to some) by U.S. labor law. And the strategy they used to confront low wages is one that similarly exploited workers might want to try too: they teamed up with a union to set up a worker-owned co-op. The lobstermen partnered with the Machinists to create both an affiliate union local and a marketing cooperative.

Community Owned Real Estate

In this episode, I speak with executive director Noni Session about how EB PREC is garnering support to shift real estate ownership from extractive developers into the hands of the BIPOC community in Oakland and the East Bay. She shares the difference between a permanent real estate co-op and land trust, ancestral remembrance of cooperative ownership, how they got the first group of people to invest, their governance structure and multi-stakeholder model, prioritizing inclusivity and accessibility to individual investors, transparency of investment risks and how they mitigate it, and their exciting new venture - a historic Black arts venue they’ve acquired for Black artists and small businesses at 50% of market rate.

When ‘Karens’ Flourished

In 2001, my main task in Nicaragua was to be a "Karen": the obnoxious, entitled white woman who uses her privilege to get her way. Although I was only 25, I was able to lend my white face, my American accent and my pushy “get-me-your-manager” skills to women’s cooperatives to gain them access to and help them navigate the Nicaraguan bureaucratic system. This was during the neoliberal years in Nicaragua, a time when the women we worked with – poor, working women – were simply dismissed by virtually any institution. Following on the popular Sandinista Revolution of the 1980s led by grassroots movements, the neoliberal governments from 1990 to 2006 were led by oligarchical elites who not only looked to the U.S. embassy for policy guidance, but culturally deferred to the U.S. as well.

Women In A Housing Cooperative Build Their Own Homes

Like every other country, Nicaragua needs more affordable housing. To deal with the shortage, in many places it’s trying out community-based solutions, sharing responsibility between the government, the local authority and the families that need better conditions. It relies on mutual aid: hours of work put in voluntarily by those benefitting from a scheme, to build not only their own houses but those of their neighbours. It’s a cooperative that really works. I talked to two women members of one such group, Yadira Aguirre and Margine Martínez, about their work building houses in their small community in La Dalia in the mountainous north of Nicaragua. They are working women, part of a group whose main earnings come from coffee harvesting on large farms for three months each year.

Platform Co-op Plans Revolution For Online Tutoring And Teaching

With schools across the world shutting due to Covid-19, e-learning has become an increasingly popular option around the world – but while this has increased platform revenues, teachers’ pay has stayed the same. “Last year, during lockdown, I decided to start something different,” says John Hayes, co-founder of MyCoolClass, an international teacher-owned platform co-op set for launch next month. He hails from California but has been living in Warsaw, Poland, for nearly six years while working as an ESL teacher, in language schools and online. After speaking with other freelance teachers and professionals affected by pay cuts, he decided the best solution would be to launch a co-operatively owned online learning platform.

Baltimore Is Democratizing The Economy, One Pint At A Time

On your first day working at Taharka Brothers, a majority-Black-owned ice cream maker in Baltimore, you can join the flavor committee and help create flavors like the limited holiday edition Sweet Potato Crumble. Or you can join the social justice committee and vet local organizations to support through ice cream sales, like the Baltimore Action Legal Team. If none of those are to your liking, there are other committees you can join. If you work there for at least 15 months and earn top marks on your most recent performance review, you can become a part-owner of Taharka Brothers, and have not just a say but also a final vote on major business decisions and policies like those performance reviews.

NYC Drivers Cooperative Aims To Smash Uber’s Exploitative Model

Ken Lewis grew up on the island of Grena­da, and wit­nessed the pro­gres­sive after­math of its 1979 rev­o­lu­tion. ​“I remem­ber the pow­er of coop­er­a­tives, peo­ple get­ting land, turn­ing places that were bar­ren into pro­duc­tive places,” he says. That image stayed with him after he moved to New York City for grad school and start­ed dri­ving a taxi on the side. Now, sev­er­al decades lat­er, Lewis is final­ly get­ting a chance to put the pow­er of coop­er­a­tives into prac­tice, in ser­vice of the dri­vers he worked with for so long.  He is one of three cofounders of The Dri­vers Coop­er­a­tive (TDC), which aims to real­ize a long-held dream of social­ly con­scious New York­ers in a hur­ry: a rideshar­ing app that you can feel good about.

Testimonies From The Gloria Quintanilla Women’s Cooperative Of Nicaragua

When a group of campesinas in the community of Santa Julia, Nicaragua founded the Gloria Quintanilla Cooperative in 2008 with the Rural Workers’ Association (Asociación de Trabajadores del Campo – ATC), one of their basic rules was that men were not allowed to hurt women. With much struggle, they have rid their rural community of machismo and established a high value on women’s work. In collaboration with the ATC and the Sandinista government, the women have fought for and won land titles in their names, their own homes, access to education, improved roads, and most recently, a community water well. 

Produce For The People

Hatfield, MA - For many farmers, the 2020 season has posed numerous difficulties: an ongoing drought, early frost and a need for extra public health precautions amid the pandemic, to name a few. But in a year marked by challenges, Riquezas del Campo farm, now in its second season, is growing. The immigrant-led, worker-owned cooperative farm got started later in the growing season when it started in 2019 and had just one customer, said Lorena Moreno, a founding member of the farm. This year, the farm, situated on the Northampton-Hatfiled line, has multiplied its sales around four times over, is attracting new members and selling to more vendors.

22 Mayors Want PG&E To Become A Customer-Owned Co-Op

California - A coalition of public officials representing 5 million Californians — including 22 mayors — wants to see PG&E emerge from bankruptcy as a customer-owned cooperative. And they're asking state regulators to help. In a letter sent Tuesday to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and Gov. Gavin Newsom, the group of mayors and county supervisors argues that the two factions currently vying for control of the bankrupt utility are made up of "Wall Street titans" concerned only with "a short-term desire to maximize financial gain," and that a co-op structure would go further toward making PG&E a financially stable company capable of addressing its operational challenges while also regaining the public trust.

One Of America’s Poorest Cities Has A Radical Plan

Cleveland ― The last time Tymika Thomas’ name appeared in newsprint was in connection with an elaborate 2012 robbery in the Cleveland suburb of Wickliffe in which Thomas and two accomplices stole numerous handguns and more than $30,000 in cash from a bookie. Thomas, who knew the victim and was well aware that he kept a large amount of money in his home, took the man out for a night on the town while her partners broke into his house. Thomas and the man returned to find two armed robbers wearing ski masks. They absconded with the man’s possessions and took Thomas as a hostage.

Can Worker Cooperatives Alleviate Income Inequality?

When Henry Lezama joined Roca Mia Construction, his new colleagues were still in the process of deciding what kind of business, exactly, it would be. On New York’s Rockaway peninsula after Hurricane Sandy washed through, there was plenty of work to do. Entire homes had been destroyed; basements and ground floors needed to be gutted and rebuilt. Would the workers do demolition, landscaping or cleanup? The one thing they were sure of was that Roca Mia would be a cooperative: The employees, as a group, would own the business. “From that day forward, we all made decisions together — on buying insurance or tools or accepting new contracts,” Lezama says.

Owning Is The New Sharing

Dietz is part of a subtle insurgency taking place, one of bylaws, financing schemes, and ownership structures. The details can seem abstruse, but the craving is everywhere. High hopes for a liberating Internet have devolved into the dominance of a few mega-companies and the NSA’s watchful algorithms. Platforms entice users to draw their communities into an apparently free and open commons, only to gradually enclose it by tweaking terms of service, diluting privacy, or charging fees for essential features. Thanks to users' unpaid labor of friending and posting, tech companies can employ far fewer people, and extract five to 10 times more profit per employee, than businesses in other industries. Fiduciary responsibility to their investors requires that they turn on the people who made them successful.

Denver’s Immigrant Taxi Drivers Build Unionized Workers Co-op

This month 800 immigrant taxi drivers in Denver—from 24 different countries in Africa—joined the Communications Workers (CWA) Local 7777. They hope to break out of poverty and challenge the workplace abuse many endure working for private taxi companies. The drivers also voted to build a worker-owned taxi cooperative, as an alternative to the existing companies. The local union movement is supporting the effort. Due to precarious relationships with their employers, taxi workers have been building similar organizations around the country. In Washington, D.C., and Seattle, drivers have joined Teamsters locals; in Boston, the Steelworkers.

Worker Owned Cooperative Produces Independent Media

ImportantCool is a worker-owned journalism collective which will radically change the way the news is gathered, presented, and consumed. We will give readers, not editors, control over stories. Patrons will vote on which projects get funded and which get dropped. We are even giving readers the chance to vote on which stories and pictures are included in our dead tree digest, Paper Fetish, and it’s bi-annual photo-special insert, Radical Transparencies. At ImportantCool, you will control the news. In line with our core philosophy of radical transparency, ImportantCool will feature the Artefacts Cave, containing transcripts of interviews, documents, audio recordings, and any additional original source material behind our journalism.
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