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GEO's Mission: To help build a nation- and worldwide movement for a cooperative social economy based on democratic and responsible production, conscientious consumption, and use of capital to further social and economic justice.
Updated: 29 min 18 sec ago

Cooperatives and Worker Buyouts in France

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 16:40
Link: Speaker Notes: Eleonore Perrin (University of Liverpool)

In 2014, the Law on the Social and Solidarity Economy (ESS) was enacted. It acknowledges the importance of social economy organisations – cooperatives, mutuals, associations and foundations – in producing wealth and contributing to social and environmental needs. The social economy represents 230,000 enterprises and 10% of GDP. In 2014, this was 2.38 million of employees and 12% of employment in the private sector. Within this, there are 23,000 cooperatives employing one million people and active in all sectors of the economy. Coops represent 40% of the food and agricultural sector, 60% of retail banking and 30% of retail shops. The ESS Law intends on creating a cooperative “shock” with the view to create a multiplier effect.

The law is not unique – it is consistent with existing legislations in Italy, Quebec and Spain. However, it is substantial in length (more than 80 pages) and scope, affecting all sectors of the social economy. Beside the collaboration with the social and solidarity movement in its elaboration, 11 Ministries and 15 Heads of Administration were involved in drafting the law. The fact that one third of the legislation is dedicated to cooperatives alone reflects the strength and commitment of the cooperative movement to this collaboration. The law enumerates the characteristics of the social and solidarity economy as consisting in the not-for-profit purpose (not excluding profit as such but rejecting it as the sole purpose of the enterprise), democratic governance, transparency and participation, sustainable management and the requirement of an asset lock. The exclusion of social criteria per se in favour of the democratic governance characteristic is interesting here and differs from social entrepreneurship approaches. This was particularly critical for the cooperative movement, which had never accepted until then a review of the 1947 legislation, the legal text acquiring a somehow sacred status as the protector of cooperative and solidarity principles in an increasingly liberal economy. The ESS Law reaffirms cooperative principles, referring to the International Cooperative Alliance definition. It stipulates tailored audits for all cooperatives every five years that will focus on the compliance with cooperative principles and legal provisions (rather than conventional financial audits).

Yet, it is in the dispositions towards the facilitation of worker buy-outs and provisions for worker cooperatives that the law is the most ambitious, for example in trying to remedy the lack of access to capital for workers. First, the ESS creates transitional cooperatives, whereby external members (who are not co-operator) can own over 50% of the cooperative’s capital for a period of 7 years in the case of a company being transformed into a cooperative. Workers have seven years to obtain the majority of the capital. If necessary, they can access the indivisible reserves to that effect. In exchange, external members are bound to sell their shares for workers to reach the 50% ownership. This provision is in direct response to the difficulty to access capital during takeovers. It has been implemented once since the passing of the law. In 2015, the two directors of Delta Meca, a company producing machining and industrial tools, decided to transform their company in a worker cooperative by enabling their 32 employees to become members. Workers invested €5,000 to become members, most of them investing the money that had been saved over the years in the company’s employee saving scheme. They will have seven years to obtain the majority of the capital.

Read the rest at Co-operative Business Consultants


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Categories: News

True Value strikes deal with private equity firm for 70% stake

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 16:30
Link: True Value strikes deal with private equity firm for 70% stake

True Value found a private equity firm to take a majority stake in the company on Thursday in a shift away from the hardware company’s cooperative structure.

Acon Investments now owns a 70 percent stake in the Chicago-based retailer. The remaining 30 percent will remain with member retailers who own the cooperative. About $229 million of Acon’s funds will be used to return 70 percent of retailers’ capital, promissory notes and dividends.  


The Acon deal must earn the support of half of True Value’s member retailers in a vote at an upcoming special shareholder meeting on April 13. If it goes through, the deal is expected to close near April 18.

Read the rest at Chicago Business Journal


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Categories: News

Nominations Open for CEANYC Board of Directors

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 19:31

The CEANYC Board of Directors oversees the mission and long term health of the organization on behalf of the membership. The Board is assisted by an Advisory Committee of cooperative and solidarity economy elders at their discretion. They are also assisted by a team of volunteers and part-time staff as the organization seeks additional resources to grow to full-time staff. Nominees can expect to participate in a “working board” and cooperative culture to meet CEANYC’s mission to strengthen and expand New York City’s cooperative and solidarity economy.

Key Functions:

  • Manage and advise on organizational policy
  • Oversee and advise on financial planning
  • Select the staff coordinators of the organization
  • Address significant concerns of the members
  • Set priorities for staff and volunteers
  • Advise, approve, and contribute to plans and programs
  • Symbolically represent the organization in the community
  • Transfer knowledge and skills to new board members
  • Solicit advice or training where needed
  • Participate in organizational fundraising

Read the rest at CEANYC


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Categories: News

The Alternatives: Worker-Owned Businesses – Podcast

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 16:30
Link: The Alternatives: worker-owned businesses – podcast

When John Clark decided to sell his successful sign-printing business Novograf he received interest from a large American firm. But when it emerged that such a deal would mean the factory outside Glasgow almost certainly being shut, he decided to explore other options. He tells Aditya Chakrabortty how the idea of employee ownership almost literally dropped into his lap – and how it offered the possibility of ensuring the lasting survival of a business he had worked so hard to build.

Listen to the podcast at The Guardian


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Categories: News

The Cooperative Advantage to Marketing Local Seafood

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 16:12
Link: The Cooperative Advantage to Marketing Local Seafood

New Jersey Shellfish growers were seeking ways for cooperatively expanding their markets. The farmers recognize that to increase their on-farm income, they need to increase the volume of what they produce, eliminate losses due to the perishable nature of food, minimize transportation and packaging expenses, and receive the highest price for what they sell. To do all this is nearly impossible for a single farm operation, but by collectively pooling their resources and efforts through the cooperative, they potentially can accomplish their goals.

Community Supported Agriculture farms, food cooperatives and chefs, all show they are eager to support the development of these shellfish cooperatives and that their customers are enthusiastic about adding local shellfish and other varieties of local seafood to their diet. Connecting to shellfish farmers expands the range of food products and meal choices for customers. Cultivating the direct-marketing channel brings the local product directly to the eater in a convenient retail or restaurant setting. These new marketing channels could potentially help farmers extract the “local and environmental sustainability premium” by assisting them to organize among themselves to lower per farm transportation and marketing costs.

Read more and register for the free webinar


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Categories: News

At Law Forum, Experts Discuss Worker Co-ops as Economic Model

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 16:52
Link: At Law Forum, Experts Discuss Worker Co-ops as Economic Model

Worker cooperatives are a viable alternative to corporate capitalism, yet they are rarely brought up in political discourse, two speakers at a Harvard Law Forum event argued Wednesday.

Nathan Schneider, an assistant professor of media studies at University of Colorado Boulder, and Jason Wiener, a worker cooperative lawyer, came to the Law School to argue the case for democratic cooperatives—speaking on how they work, why they’re important, and why so few people have heard of them.

Both Schneider and Wiener said they have made it their professional goal to advance worker cooperatives as an alternative to traditional capitalism.

Read the rest at The Harvard Crimson


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Categories: News

12th Vermont Mobile Home Park Converts to Co-op

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 16:43
Link: Mobile home park switches to co-op ownership after residential buyout

A mobile home park in Vermont, USA, has made the switch to co-operative ownership after residents signed a $2.1m deal to buy it from its owner.

Weston’s Mobile Home Park, in Washington County, is the 12th site in the state to make the transition to co-operative ownership. Residents at the 83-lot site voted unanimously to accept owner Ellery Packard’s offer to sell them the park.

The sale follows a year of intense planning and negotiation. It has seen residents of 50 of the park’s 82 mobile homes purchased $100 shares of the co-operative, making them eligible to participate in decision-making and to serve on the board.

Read the rest at Co-operative News


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Categories: News

'We get paid the same regardless of role'

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 19:03
Link: Worker-owned businesses: 'We get paid the same regardless of role'

“We all get paid the same hourly rate regardless of the roles we do. We multi-skill, so the worker taking an order over the phone one day could be out delivering orders on a Suma truck the next,” says Emma Robinson, who is responsible for marketing. She says that major business decisions are made democratically by the membership at quarterly general meetings, and an elected management committee meets each week to make strategic decisions and represent the views of the wider membership. “We have free cooked meals for workers each day and member pensions,” she says.  Read the rest at The Guardian  Go to the GEO front page 
Categories: News

Mandela Grocery Cooperative is Hiring

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 18:52
Link: We're Hiring

Share this with folk who'd make great grocers in a collective. #bayarea #Oakland #collective #hiring #committee #jobsearch
Key word #Cooperative.

— Mandela Grocery (@MandelaFoodsOAK) March 12, 2018

Follow Mandela Grocery on Twitter


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Categories: News

Class, Race, and Privilege in Intentional Communities

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 17:16
Intentional communities are intrinsically idealistic. They’re based on a radical analysis of social problems and are an attempt to address them. They represent a personal desire to live in a way that feels more satisfying, but also the desire for a better society for all people. They are a recognition that some of the essentials that make community what it is—mutual support, love and caring, sharing lives and livelihood in a meaningful and satisfying way—are lacking in the world. Not all intentional communities share the same political or social views. Some mirror the trend towards isolationism and protectionism we see in politics today. But most value, at least in theory, diversity, equality, and sustainability, and want to help create a world that works for everyone. We live in a world fraught with injustice and inequality. In the US in particular, we live with a legacy of slavery and genocide that affects the opportunities we have regardless of when our ancestors came to this land. We all live with the effects of racialized, gendered, and classist society. These are core issues that need to be addressed if intentional communities are to fulfill their potential as models for a better way of living. The Fellowship for Intentional Community is taking this as our job, and to support this, the theme of the Spring '18 issue of Communites magazine is Class, Race, and Privilege. And for the first time, we're releaseing the digital version on a by-donation basis. If we want to create models for how to live that address the problems in society, it’s crucial that we hold central the perspectives and issues of those most affected by those problems. Certain people are more likely to have access to the resources to buy land, build buildings, and start businesses. Unfortunately, when they do, they’re going to create communities with cultures that are less comfortable for people who are not like them. There are systemic economic and culturalbarriers to living in and starting intentional communities, both from external forces and from the unintentional perpetuation of oppression and privilege by intentional communities themselves and the people who live in them. If we think about racism and classism not as personal failings but as a system in which we are privileged or disadvantaged, then those of us who benefit from this system have a responsibility to work to change it. Intentional communities are a means to the end of making a better world, but they’re also an end in themselves, of creating a way to live right now that’s better than what the mainstream has to offer. It’s a privilege to live in and start intentional communities, and we have a responsibility to help extend the opportunity to everyone who wants it. Institutions & Structures: Intentional CommunitiesPractices, Tools & Strategies: Strategies for ChangeRegions: United StatesEconomic Sectors: Community Development
Categories: News

How do ordinary people get to have a say in their economic future?

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 15:07
Link: How do ordinary people get to have a say in their economic future?

IDS and others have done a huge amount of work over the decades to make the case that ‘participation’, understood as people engaging in society and in the decisions that impact their lives, is recognised as a right held by all.

Much progress has been made.

This includes pioneering work to put farmers first, strengthening the voice and agency of small-scale cultivators to develop their own futures and hold governments and private investors to account. And work on women’s economic and political agency.

However, participation has often focused on social, civic and political issues, not on issues of economic development.

A new project by IDS, in collaboration with the Economic Advancement Programme of the Open Society Foundations, aims to explore what constitutes meaningful participation in the economic sphere and how it might be enabled. And we are hoping you can help us.


We are inviting you to participate in this project by sharing examples you know where people have a real voice in economic decisions.

Read the rest at Institute of Development Studies


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Categories: News

Magazine Focused on Community Race and Class Issues Is Available for Free Download

Fri, 03/09/2018 - 17:48
Link: Magazine Focused on Community Race and Class Issues Is Available for Free Download

In today’s world, it’s rare to find positive and engaging stories that simultaneously expose readers to sensitive topics like race, class, and social barriers and biases. The Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC), a nonprofit organization with offices based in Rutledge, Missouri and Louisa, Virginia, has produced Communities magazine for the past 25 years, exploring the joys and challenges of navigating such issues together in cooperative groups.

The Spring 2018 edition of Communities, released on March 7, focuses on “Class, Race, and Privilege,” and contains more than 20 articles which look unflinchingly at a major “elephant in the room”—the relative lack of racial and class diversity in most intentional communities, at least in North America—while suggesting ways of understanding and addressing it.

Read the rest and download your copy at Fellowship for Intentional Community


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Categories: News

Community-owned pub serving shots of social care

Fri, 03/09/2018 - 17:44
Link: Cheers! The British community-owned pub serving shots of social care

Each week, 21 high-street pubs shut in England, according to the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), a group that lobbied for a 2011 law which protects former pubs from demolition or a change of use by requiring local people to be consulted first.

Almost 20 local residents' groups - like those behind The Bevy - have raised almost 4 million pounds to buy and run their own pubs in England over the last two years, according to the Plunkett Foundation, which supports community-owned businesses.

It is a growing trend, with about 60 such pubs across the country, said the charity, which is expanding its programme offering advice and funding to establish community-owned pubs.

Read the rest at Thomson Reuters Foundation News


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Categories: News

By mass-texting local residents, Outlier Media connects low-income news consumers to useful, personalized data

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 18:36
Link: By mass-texting local residents, Outlier Media connects low-income news consumers to useful, personalized data

By drawing on a hefty database of information compiled from city and county public sources and automating initial responses, Alvarez has built the one-woman-show of Outlier Media into a resource for low-income news consumers in Detroit in search of tangible, individualized information. In 13 months, Alvarez has sent messages to about 40,000 Detroit cell phone numbers in her quest to reach “as many Detroiters as possible”; between 1,200 and 1,600 Detroiters have used Outlier to search for information on an address. (Opting out from Outlier’s messages is always an option as well.) She developed the system as a JSK Fellow after reporting for Michigan Public Radio.

“Even though the journalism was very good, I was not satisfied with covering low-income communities for a higher-income audience. I wanted to cover issues for and with low-income news consumers,” said Alvarez, who came to journalism after working as a civil rights lawyer. “I covered issues that were important to low-income families, but I was not a housing reporter. Using Outlier’s method and delivery system, it’s such efficient beat development. I learned so much about housing so quickly. You can talk to hundreds of people in a week instead of just talking to a few.”

Read the rest at Nieman Lab

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Categories: News

Bankers want to eliminate credit unions, and you should be worried

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 18:29
Link: Bankers want to eliminate credit unions, and you should be worried

The $17.2 trillion banking industry is riding high in the current economy: Profits are up, new tax cuts are in, and the industry has more capital than ever before.

So why are the bankers so obsessed about the tax status of not-for-profit credit unions?

Two reasons: competition and reputation. Credit unions' presence in the marketplace provides a check on higher banking costs and dishonest practices, and the banks don’t like that. Rather than do better, they've chosen to keep up their attacks on not-for-profit, member-owned credit unions.

Read the rest at the Des Moines Register


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Categories: News

Teachers End Historic Strike in West Virginia with 5% Pay Raise for All State Workers

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 17:18
Link: Teachers End Historic Strike in West Virginia with 5% Pay Raise for All State Workers

In West Virginia, teachers have ended their historic strike, after state officials agreed to raise the pay of all state workers by 5 percent. The strike began on February 22 and shut down every public school in the state. It was the longest teachers’ strike in West Virginia history. For more, we speak with Katie Endicott, a high school teacher and union activist in Mingo County, West Virginia.

Watch more videos from Democracy Now!


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Categories: News

A Digital Map Leads to Reparations for Black and Indigenous Farmers

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 15:16
Link: A Digital Map Leads to Reparations for Black and Indigenous Farmers

Last month, Dallas Robinson received an email from someone she didn’t know, asking if she would be open to receiving a large sum of money—with no strings attached. For once, it wasn’t spam. She hit reply.

Robinson is a beginning farmer with experience in organic agriculture, and has had plans to establish the Harriet Tubman Freedom Farm on 10 acres of family land near her home in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Located in an area where the poverty rate hovers at nearly 20 percent, according to census data, and where both food insecurity and obesity rates are even higher, the farm will focus on serving the needs of the surrounding community by producing vegetables, herbs, and mushrooms.

The gift from the stranger arrived thanks to a new online map, the Black-Indigenous Farmers Reparations Map, a project to promote “people-to-people” reparations.

Robinson’s project was the first to be fully funded, says Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm, which created the map. Penniman credits Viviana Moreno, a farmer from Chicago, for suggesting the idea.

“This past summer at our Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion program, we were all talking about two farms given by White people to farmers of color as examples of reparations and restoration, and Viviana said we need more of this people-to-people giving,” she says. Moreno’s own Catatumbo Cooperative Farm is listed on the map, and as a fellow graduate of the program, Robinson was invited to list her farm. The map now includes more than 40 projects, which are all directly connected to farming organizations led by people of color.

Read the rest at U.S. Solidarity Economy Network


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Categories: News

Unlearning with CoFed

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 15:00
Link: Unlearning with CoFed

Farms and major food corporations use, and directly profit from, prison labor. For example, under the Prison Industry Enhancement (PIE) program, Whole Foods, McDonald’s, Starbucks, ConAgra, and Pepsi are among the corporations that use incarcerated people through contracts with local correctional authorities for low-cost labor. [7] In 2012, the Georgia Department of Corrections used prison labor to harvest Vidalia onions [8], and states like Arizona and Idaho use prison labor in the agriculture industry. To be clear, this isn’t “job training” and in no way are incarcerated people getting a leg up on working while in prison… not only are they paid as low as 16 cents an hour, but their experience working while incarcerated is rarely considered legitimate job experience by prospective employers. To put 16 cents into perspective, rates for in-state phone calls in prison have historically reached up to $10–15 a minute. [9] Commissary prices for grocery items like beans or chicken breast can cost incarcerated people up to 280% more than they would at a local grocery store, as reported in the Native Sun on South Dakota Prisons. [10]

These conditions are often resisted by incarcerated people, having culminated in countless peaceful prison strikes over the years. Just last month, Florida prisoners participated in a coordinated, peaceful, general strike, the third mass action over the course of a year in protest of forced, unpaid labor and inhumane conditions in the state’s detention facilities. As reported in The Intercept in early January, “Detainees in at least eight prisons declared their intention to stop all work on Monday — Martin Luther King Jr. Day — to demand an end to unpaid labor and price gouging in prison commissaries, as well as the restoration of parole, among other requests.” In September of 2016, Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) organized [11] the largest American prison strike since the Attica uprising of 1971. [12]

Read the rest at Medium


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Categories: News

Wealth Inequalities and the Fallacies of Impact Investing

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 18:52
Link: Wealth Inequalities and the Fallacies of Impact Investing

Is it not perverse that Ivy League-educated white men from predominantly white male dominated institutions are able to accrue wealth by investing in African American women entrepreneurs — now that diversity is considered an asset, and the latest example of doing well by doing good — while the majority of African American women are excluded from building wealth through impact investment vehicles?

If the goal is to get at root causes, then disrupting the concentration of power, wealth, and privilege is the solution we ought to set our sights on. Shouldn’t the aim be to do good by giving up more? Less privilege. Less wealth. Less power.

Read the rest at Medium


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Categories: News