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Updated: 43 min 28 sec ago

In Europe, food delivery coops are fighting back against the gig economy

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 18:34
Link: In Europe, food delivery coops are fighting back against the gig economy

On 25 and 26 October 2018, digital platform food delivery workers from all over Europe will come together for the first time in Brussels, Belgium. Unlike the usual luxury conferences held in the European capital, attendees will have to crowdfund their own tickets. But that won’t stop the 100 or so couriers from meeting up to share their “methods of struggle and define a common strategy for better working conditions” in a bid to combat the “unacceptable” labour practices of online food delivery platforms such as Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Foodora.

The deliberate misclassification of these platform workers as ‘self-employed’ denies them fundamental workers’ rights, particularly in relation to a minimum wage, working time regulations, collective bargaining rights, insurance and health and safety protections (the latter two points are particularly crucial to food delivery workers who spend most of their working day on motorcycles or bikes). As a result, there have recently been a wave of protests in the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Spain condemning the exploitative nature of this work.

But as well as protesting, deliver workers have also been organising, with a number of bike courier cooperatives recently being established by couriers who once worked for these digital juggernauts. Ex-platform workers in Belgium, France and Spain are turning to democratic business models as a reaction to the precarity of the ‘gig economy’, and in a bid to shape decent work for themselves.

Read the rest at Equal Times

 

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How Equal Exchange Faced Down An Ethical Dilemma

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 18:33
Link: How A Fair-Trade Company Faced Down An Ethical Dilemma

[I]n 2000, the [Equal Exchange] founders faced a major dilemma when an outside investor offered to pump $250,000 into the company. In exchange the investor wanted a guaranteed seat on the board and the creation of a special class of stock specifically for the investor that would pay out a 10% guaranteed cumulative annual dividend...

The consensus among the board members and company leadership was that Equal Exchange would be giving up too much. The cumulative dividend, they worried, would have been a difficult promise to make for a business whose wares were largely agricultural commodities with fluctuating prices. Not to mention that creating a higher class of owner didn’t jibe with the organization’s ethos of equal ownership. “We did not want to do anything that would relinquish worker control,”

Read the rest at Forbes

 

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Are the Digital Commons condemned to become “Capital Commons”?

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 17:04
Link: Are the Digital Commons condemned to become “Capital Commons”?

Last week, Katherine Maher, the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, published a rather surprising article on the Wired site entitled: “Facebook and Google must do more to support Wikipedia”. The starting point of her reasoning was to point out that Wikipedia content is increasingly being used by digital giants, such as Facebook or Google:

[...]

For a project like Wikipedia, things would probably be different if firms like Google or Facebook answered the call launched by Katherine Maher. The Wikipedia community has strict rules in place regarding paid contributions, which means that you would probably never see 90% of the content produced by employees. Company contributions would likely be in the form of cash payments to the Wikimedia Foundation. However, economic dependence would be no less strong; until now, Wikipedia has ensured its independence basically by relying on individual donations to cover the costs associated with maintaining the project’s infrastructure. This economic dependence would no doubt quickly become a political dependence – which, by the way, the Wikimedia Foundation has already been criticised for, regarding a large number of personalities with direct or indirect links with Google included on its board, to the point of generating strong tensions with the community. The Mozilla Foundation, behind the Firefox browser, has sometimes received similar criticism. Their dependence on Google funding may have attracted rather virulent reproach and doubts about some of its strategic choices.

In the end, this question of the digital Commons’ state of economic dependence is relatively widespread. There are, in reality, very few free projects having reached a significant scale that have not become more or less “Capital Commons”. This progressive satellite-isation is likely to be further exacerbated by the fact that free software communities have placed themselves in a fragile situation by coordinating with infrastructures that can easily be captured by Capital. This is precisely what just happened with Microsoft’s $7.5 billion acquisition of GitHub. Some may have welcomed the fact that this acquisition reflected a real evolution of Microsoft’s strategy towards Open Source, even that it could be a sign that “free software has won”, as we sometimes hear.

But, we can seriously doubt it. Although free software has acquired an infrastructural dimension today – to the point that even a landmark player in proprietary software like Microsoft can no longer ignore it – the developer communities still lack the means of their independence, whether individually (developers employed by large companies are in the majority) or collectively (a lot of free software depends on centralized platforms like GitHub for development). Paradoxically, Microsoft has taken seriously Platform Cooperativism’s watchwords, which emphasize the importance of becoming the owner of the means of production in the digital environment in order to be able to create real alternatives. Over time, Microsoft has become one of the main users of GitHub for developing its own code; logically, it bought the platform to become its master. Meanwhile – and this is something of a grating irony – Trebor Scholz – one of the initiators, along with Nathan Schneider, of the Platform Cooperativism movement – has accepted one million dollars in funding from Google to develop his projects. This amounts to immediately making oneself dependent on one of the main actors of surveillance capitalism, seriously compromising any hope of building real alternatives.

Read the rest at Guerrilla Translation

 

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What if there was a prize for food sovereignty?

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 16:09
Link: What if there was a prize for food sovereignty?

On Sunday evening, a group of over 100 food activists, farmers, artists, and community members from across the world gathered in downtown Bellingham, Washington to honor the recipients of this year’s Food Sovereignty Prize.

The awards were were founded in 2009 with the stated mission of celebrating grassroots efforts to promote food sovereignty—defined as a community’s ability to feed itself culturally appropriate cuisine while maintaining control over the means of food production.

But it’s the Food Sovereignty Prize’s anti-imperialist ethos—highlighting women, migrants, people of color, and farmworkers who are historically marginalized in the global food system, and often in awards ceremonies honoring efforts to change it—that stands in sharp contrast with a far better known, lucrative, and contentious accolade: the World Food Prize.

Read the rest at The New Food Economy

 

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How FairCoin Became a Lifeline for Activists

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 15:45
Link: How a Left-for-Dead, $0.22 Crypto Asset Became a Lifeline for Activists

"Aside from the blockchain, which is the same technology, the rest, why it is there, the people who use it, the past and the future of it, is totally the opposite," Sporos said.

Created in 2014, faircoin didn't originate from its current community. Rather, the cryptocurrency was discovered online by anti-capitalist activist Enric Duran, having been abandoned by its original creator (who allegedly created it as a pump-and-dump scheme).

"Faircoin was just another coin somebody made," Sporos told CoinDesk. "Some friends found this abandoned project, they liked the name, they bought the coins from here and there with their money, they acquired 50 million out of 52 million."

Read the rest at coindesk

 

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Harvest Co-op Markets is Closing

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 15:11
Link: Harvest Co-op Markets is closing both of its remaining stores

A major loss for the co-op community was revealed Wednesday night, as the Jamaica Plain News reported that both Harvest Co-op Markets locations will be closing in seven to 14 days.

The news comes on the heels of the National Co+op Grocers (NCG) deciding not to submit a proposal that would assume the co-op’s liabilities and assets.

According to Paige Clark, who has been the Jamaica Plain store manager since July 2017, Harvest’s staff all found out Wednesday. Around 50 people between the two locations — the other in Cambridge’s Central Square — are expected to lose their jobs.

Read the rest at Boston.com

 

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Building the Cooperative Cloud

Fri, 10/12/2018 - 16:53
Link: OPEN 2018 - Building the cooperative cloud

Wouter Tebbens, Co-Founder and President of the Free Knowledge Institute; Chris Croome from UK co-op Webarchitects; Alexandre Bourlier and Sophie Rocher from happy-dev.fr discussing their work developing a suite of cooperatively owned and managed open source tools to rival Google and Apple; a shared technical infrastructure to enable co-operators to move away from data harvesting monopolies.

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Marriott Workers Struggle to Pay Bills, and Credit Union Fees

Fri, 10/12/2018 - 16:49
Link: Marriott Workers Struggle to Pay Bills, and Credit Union Fees

Working as a dishwasher at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Amos Troyah made about $30,000 in a recent 12-month period. Roughly $2,000 of it was spent on an especially frequent expense: fees on his checking and savings accounts at the Marriott Employees’ Federal Credit Union.

The fees came in increments like $6 and $10 — minimum-balance fees, excess-transaction fees, automatic money-transfer fees. On occasion, they were joined by that pooh-bah of personal finance charges, the overdraft fee, at a hefty $35.

Thousands of Marriott workers around the country are on strike, complaining that stagnant wages and unsteady hours have made it difficult to stay afloat. At a time when they are under particular pressure, the credit union may be adding to their struggles. Other employees said Mr. Troyah’s experience with fees was common.

Read the rest at the New York Times

 

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People’s Infrastructures

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 16:37
Link: People’s Infrastructures: the case of recuperated factory of VIOME

...VIOME S.A. was founded in 1982 as a subsidiary of Philkeram-Johnston S.A. in the outskirts of Thessaloniki, Northern Greece, producing chemical products for the manufacturing sector. Due to the general economic recession and the mall administration, the parent company went bankrupted in 2011, abandoning the plant of VIOME on its own faith. The only thing the former owners left behind was a massive debt, including of course workers’ unpaid salaries. Desperate and facing the danger of unemployment, VIOME workers, organized in their trade union since 2006, decided collectively to occupy their workplace and called for solidarity. The initial reason for the occupation, beyond its significance and symbolism as a means of struggle, was to make sure that both the production stock and heavy machinery would remain in the factory, hence preventing the owners from selling out everything. 

One and a half year later, in 2013, together with a great movement in solidarity to the workers’ struggle, the workers of VIOME endeavored a big step: to take the production on their hands! A cooperative was established, in order to acquire a legal form, and the ‘cogwheel of struggle’ began to spin. Since that moment, instead of producing super profits for the bosses through the exploitation of the workers, the factory became a source of dignity, equal labor relations and decent remuneration for the members of the cooperative. The second crucial decision that the workers took with the reopening of the factory dealt with the change of production: from constructive materials VIOME would from now on start producing natural detergents, eco detergents and oil soaps, friendly for the environment and human health. Despite its branch in Athens and its e-shop, VIOME’s products are distributed by a number of social centers, squats, cooperatives and small groceries across the country, while they are also exported in collectives abroad. 

Read the rest at The New Pretender

 

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Bargaining Continues for Co-op & UFCW Local 1400

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 16:27
Link: Bargaining Continues for Co-op & UFCW Local 1400

After days of picketing, the Moose Jaw Co-op went back to the bargaining table with its union UFCW local 1400 recently. An offer was made but an agreement couldn't be reached.

[...]

Tuesday afternoon Rod Gillies, Director of Negotiating for the union that represents Co-op employees released more information regarding the rejection and when the two sides will meet again. 

"The result was the majority of the membership voted to reject the employers offer and October 19th has been confirmed for the next bargaining session and we've advised the employer that we would make ourselves available anytime if their calendars opened up and an earlier date could be found."

He said the union also believes that there is discrimination when it comes to pay between men and women, and it's because of the way things are set up.

"Presenting because of the way in which the second tier has been set up. 78% of employees on this lower wage grid are women. This isn't surprising when the employers has set up the second tier which seems to target 6 classifications out of 23 classifications and the 6 classifications are 82% female dominated," said Gillies. "The rhetorical question that I have is, 'is the Co-op actually trying to find the lowest common denominator for wages?' This question is being asked in light of these employees, unlike the competitors industries, are actually the owners of Co-op as well as the rest of the membership in the community."

Read the rest at Discover Moose Jaw

 

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Cargo-Bikes Reduce Transport Emissions, Build Alternative Economy

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 16:09
Link: BUDAPEST, HUNGARY: CARGO-BIKES REDUCE TRANSPORT EMISSIONS, BUILD ALTERNATIVE ECONOMY

Since 2015, Budapest-based Cargonomia has acted as a sustainable urban transport centre and local organic food distribution point through its cargo-bike messenger service, bicycle-building cooperative, family-scale organic vegetable farm, organic bakery, wine distributor and network of citizen volunteers.

[...]

Cargonomia operates from a hub that serves as the messenger dispatch centre; food box pickup point; do-it-yourself repair workshop for bicycles, clothing and electronics; and logistics centre for sustainable urban transport solutions where community members can borrow locally manufactured cargo-bikes. The site also serves as a space for community activities that focus on sustainable transitions, community building and ways to find alternatives to limitless, consumerist growth.

Read the rest at The Commons

 

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Narrative debate: Putting the employees in charge

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 16:20
Link: Narrative debate: Putting the employees in charge

In the final narrative session, and keynote debate of OPEN 2018, Niki Okuk, Founder of Rco Tires and Guy Watson, Founder and Chair of Riverford Organic discuss how we can challenge the dominant model of capitalist business and the de facto pyramid structure of management in order to enable a more equitable society. What does it take for owners and managers to understand and liberate the true value of placing workers in charge of the business? How can we encourage the development of new, and the transformation of ‘conventional’ businesses, to become worker owned enterprises? What assumptions do we need to challenge to break the strong-hold of rapacious capitalism as the the dominant form of business?

More videos from Open 2018

 

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Cooperation as a Service (CaaS)

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 16:12
Link: Cooperation as a Service (CaaS)

What if we could provide a ‘cooperative by default’ environment for these projects, non-intrusively, through systems and services used by these projects? My initial point of interest is the innovative opencollective.com 14 (OC) platform, used by hundreds of open source projects to enable supporters to give them money without them having to incorporate or even set up a bank account. I’m very interested in OC’s approach, and feel that as well as finance, it could potentially help with governance. And if the governance services it offered were by default of a cooperative nature, then perhaps some of the hundreds of projects OC facilitates might in time mature into successful cooperative organisations. I’m interested in this because I think that cooperatives provide a range of benefits that other models don’t or can’t offer, and because I’m interested in defending and extending an open internet. Cooperative ownership and control aligns with a decentralised web, whilst investor-driven business models align with a centralising approach.

Read the rest at Digital Life Collective

 

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Webinar: Legacy Conversions & Micro Businesses

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 16:51
Link:  Legacy Conversions & Micro BusinessesAsian American Solidarity Economies Project presents 
2018 Solidarity Economy Webinar Series

Friday, October 12, 2018 from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM (PDT)

In our fourth of five webinars, our speakers will talk about converting legacy businesses into cooperatives and the various ways micro businesses can cooperate.

Speakers:

Shevanthi Daniel-Rabin, Democracy at Work Institute 
Shevanthi (Shev) is passionate about the intersection of sustainable business and economic development. Her work spans over fifteen years in community and labor organizing, and strategic capacity building with nonprofit and small businesses. She previously served as Lead Manager of Worker Cooperative Initiative at Pinchot University - Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship, and also helped develop a Cooperative Management Certificate program at Pinchot University. Shevanthi has managed and implemented large-scale labor organizing and worker justice campaigns with SEIU1199 NW, and programs centered on civil rights and social justice leadership, in rural and urban centers across the country, as well as solidarity work in South Africa, Nicaragua and Ethiopia. Shevanthi is also a co-founder of the O’Dell Education Center, a nonviolence direct action and leadership academy in Washington State, owned and operated by the Institute for Community Leadership. She is also Executive Board member at the Center for Women in Democracy, strengthening women's capacity and leadership in public and private sector. Shevanthi has an MBA in Sustainable Business from Pinchot University and BA in History and Anthropology from University of Washington.

Soyun Park, Micro Business Network 
Soyun is an organizer, a trainer, an organization builder and a movement strategist. She has over 25 years of experience with youth and community organizing in Black and Brown communities to affect local, state, and national policy change on racial and economic justice issues and immigrant rights issues.Over the last few years, Soyun has been focused on community economic development, working with owner operator micro businesses fighting predatory development in DC. A natural ally of neighborhood residents and workers, she has mobilized micro business owners in support of progressive worker policies, against public utility rate increases, and to push the largest electric holding company in the US to provide sustainable alternatives. She is also working in Baltimore with Korean owned liquor storeowners and the surrounding Black communities to identify solutions to city policies that perpetuate anti-Blackness and racial triangulation. She grew up in this country as the daughter of an immigrant shop owner and brings this experience into her political and organizing work to make an impact. She lives East of the River in DC with her two beautiful children.

Register for the webinar on Eventbrite

 

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Charlotte’s Tale of Two Cities and Corporate Philanthropy

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 16:40
Link: Charlotte’s Tale of Two Cities and Corporate Philanthropy

[T]his group of citizens from all sectors of the metro concluded that only a focus on systemic and structural change will have the desired result. “Programs are critically important; however, they generally deal with the symptoms of problematic, complex systems and structures”—not with the embedded policies, perspectives and practices that are at the heart of Charlotte’s mobility crisis.

[...]

Although both Project L.I.F.T. and Read Charlotte are among the 17 grantees selected by Bank of America and Albemarle for the combined $20 million, the list represents a series of investments in individual programs and organizations rather than a strategic investment in changing systems and structures as the Opportunity Task Force recommended.

[...]

How were these grantees selected? Bank of America’s spokesperson says both companies looked at each nonprofit’s long-term goals, data-based track records, and adaptability, among other factors. Albemarle’s spokesperson explained, “I did extensive interviews with private and non-private foundations and organizations….We want to make sure we have control over where those donations go. We want to leverage those dollars. Then, we want to give a platform for volunteerism.”

[...]

Personal connections also had a role to play. The wife of Albemarle’s CEO is the co-founder of one of the grant recipients—the Carolina Youth Coalition opened its doors in Charlotte in January 2018 and is modelled after a similarly named program in Baton Rouge, the former home of Albemarle. Vision to Learn is co-chaired by former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl and his wife.

Can corporate philanthropy play a decisive role in moving Charlotte from its dead-last ranking for economic mobility? As Rick Cohen noted in NPQ in 2013, “Nonprofits have to ask themselves which is more important: the volunteerism and philanthropy offered by corporations…or their business practices relating to labor rights, public health and the environment?” Add predatory lending to that list and Bank of America’s contribution to our nation’s recent record on economic mobility clearly goes in the red.—Debby Warren

Read the rest at NonProfit Quarterly

 

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Tribunal puts US on Trial for Colonial Crimes in Puerto Rico

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 16:35
Link: Tribunal puts US on Trial for Colonial Crimes in Puerto Rico

Emergency International Peoples' Tribunal

Saturday - October, 27 - 9 am

715 W. 179 St. - New York City - A Train to 181st

[full screen]

Get more information at the Puerto Rico Tribunal website

 

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file upload: PDF icon 18oct27-new-2up-bilingualcorrected.pdf
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Navajo Beef Brings Traditional Practices and Modern Business to Ranching

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 16:08
Link: Navajo Beef Brings Traditional Practices and Modern Business to Ranching

14-R Ranch was formed as a nonprofit operation in 2012 with a goal of blending modern practices and cultural teachings. The operation is spread among 14 range units at 18,000 acres each (thus the name 14-R). In the past six years, it has become, in many ways, a model for transforming barren surroundings into a thriving cattle operation. And, as the ranchers see it, Navajo Beef is better-tasting, higher-quality, more ethically raised, and more ecologically sound than your average American beef.

“The general beef industry has been trying to figure out the co-op model for a very long time,” says A-dae Romero-Briones, Native Agriculture and Food Systems program director at First Nations Development Institute, a nonprofit that provided funds to 14-R  to expand its operation. “So far, it’s gotten as far as having ranchers share markets; they combine products after they raise the beef, or perhaps the ranchers share equipment or processing costs. 14-R shares the land base, the equipment, the processing and the markets. [It] has one of the most cooperative models that I have ever seen.”

Beyond producing meat, the ranch is also a source of pride and livelihood that has cultivated a renewed sense of hope in a community that once felt business and life was irrecoverable.

Read the rest at Civil Eats

 

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The Co-op Farming Model Might Help Save America’s Small Farms

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 15:12
Link: The Co-op Farming Model Might Help Save America’s Small Farms

Across the U.S.—from New England to California—a small but growing movement of farmers is foregoing traditional farm ownership in favor of a cooperative model. In Maine, four Somali Bantu refugees raise crops on shared land at New Roots Cooperative Farm, growing both regional and Somali produce. To the south in Vermont, Intervale Community Farm shares farm ownership with its community supported agriculture (CSA) members. Next door is Digger’s Mirth, a worker-owned farm. And across the country in Southern California’s Pauma Valley, Solidarity Farm shares work and resources with other stewards of the land.

Though these farms are run by people with diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and motivations, they all seek to rebuild what’s been lost over the past century: a connection with neighbors—whether personal, economic, or both—and a sense of the mutual support that keeps rural communities alive.

Read the rest at Civil Eats

 

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Food Co-ops Recognized for Reducing Refrigerant Emissions

Thu, 10/04/2018 - 14:39
Link: USA food co-ops win recognition for work to reduce refrigerant emissions

Outside of Hanover Co-op grocery store

...The Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society’s food stores received the Environmental Protection Agency’s award for Most Improved Emissions Rate for the second straight year. Hanover Co-op’s current emission rate is 7.7%, down from 9% the previous year.

Ed Fox, general manager of the Hanover Co-op Food Stores, said: “For the Hanover Co-op, we may be the nation’s second largest food co-operative, but we’re tiny compared to the largest grocery chains in the world. So it is especially noteworthy to earn such an award along with mammoth retailers.”

“We’re all in this together,” added Hanover Co-op facilities manager Tom Guillette. “The team at our co-op has made massive improvements to our systems. We’re saving money, helping the planet, and we’ve even hosted webinars to share our knowledge with big grocery chains and other co-ops.”

The Hanover Co-op was the first food co-operative to join the GreenChill Partnership.

Read the rest at Co-operative News

 

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‘A Hidden History Runs Through Our Social Movements in This Country’

Thu, 10/04/2018 - 14:25
Link: ‘A Hidden History Runs Through Our Social Movements in This Country’

NS:...There’s a long tradition in American economic history, and the economic history of the world, of cooperative enterprise, businesses owned and governed by the people they serve, exemplified by, for example, in the financial industry, credit unions, which are banks that are owned by the people whose money they hold and whose loans they carry. And these kinds of businesses behaved very differently in 2007 and 2008, and those should be the model of how we move forward, rather than simply doubling down on this backwards and very dangerous accountability problem.

JJ: It seems important to underscore that you’re not necessarily always talking about—or we’re not necessarily talking about—smoke-filled rooms and conspiracies and evil people. It really is about structures of accountability, and the way systems are set up.

Well, the values of cooperative work, of cooperative ownership, they aren’t new, even though we don’t hear about them every day. It’s almost like a hidden history.

NS: That’s right. And sometimes there are smoke-filled rooms involved, you know...

Read the rest at FAIR

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