By Misty Dawn Spicer-Sitzes for Shareable. Workers in California are taking economic change into their own hands. The Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives is one of the shining examples of how shared ownership empowers workers and builds community. For the past 20 years, the association, comprised of six bakeries, has been innovating the way business is done. What’s its recipe for success? It turns out that it is more than just tasty treats: Each bakery is democratically-owned and governed by its workers. A worker-owned cooperative is a business in which each employee owns one equal part of the company. They share the profits in the good times, and they share the burdens in the hard times. Worker co-ops can have anywhere from three members to thousands, and they have varying pay scales and job structures.
By Melissa Hellmann for Yes Magazine – Delonte Wilkins was looking for a fresh start when he was released from Pennsylvania’s Schuylkill Federal Correctional Institution in February. He polished his resume and applied to several jobs in his hometown of Washington, D.C. But when he was turned down for three job offers once those employers learned of his criminal background, Wilkins soon realized he couldn’t easily leave his felony behind.
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. Last April after the killing of Freddie Gray Baltimore experienced an uprising. It was not what was shown on television, which highlighted a few hours of burning cars and buildings, but a week long event that brought the city together. People of all ages and races called for transformation of the city so it corrected the injustices of decades of neglect and racism in the poor black communities of East and West Baltimore. As you can hear from our first two guests the problems of police violence continue to plague Baltimore but residents or also organizing to make the call for change a reality. A year later there is a lot of community organizing going on, as you can hear from Derrick Chase and Abdul Salaam below, which will take time to show results. The city is also going through a major local election where a new mayor and city council will be elected.
By Oscar Perry Abello for Next City – Worker cooperatives can sometimes sound too good to be true: a business owned and controlled by its workers, who each usually get an equal share of the profits. Compensation for some has gone from $6.25 an hour to $25 an hour. Flexible schedules. Worker majorities on the boards of directors interviewing CEO candidates. Dignity at work and wealth at home for some of the most marginalized — a group of Filipina women, many of them survivors of human trafficking, launched a cleaning worker cooperative in New York City last September.
By Sarah van Gelder for Yes Magazine – Back in the day, factory workers at the Chicago-based Republic Windows and Doors were simply told what to do. That wasn’t unusual. Workers might have seen ways to improve the production process, but at Republic their supervisor wasn’t interested, said former employee Armando Robles. “Whatever the bosses want, we do it. We’d say, ‘Look, this is a better way,’ and they say, ‘No, we say you have to do it this way.’ Even when they make a mistake, they just continue,” Robles explained. “We try to do the best for everyone.” Things are very different today. Employees of what is now called New Era Windows and Doors are also the owners.
Soon after that conversation, Soglin initiated Madison’s Capitol Improvement Plan, “Co-operative Enterprises for Job Creation & Business Development.” This plan would authorize the city to spend $1 million each of five years starting in 2016 to fund “cooperative/worker-owned business formation for the purposes of job creation and general economic development in the city.” The Madison Common Council, known as city councils or commissions in other cities, approved the initiative on Nov. 11, 2014. This allocation is the largest by a U.S. municipality. Earlier last year, New York allocated $1.2 million to help worker cooperative development.