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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: 2 hours 5 min ago

Social Enterprise: Proceed, with Caution

Tue, 09/18/2018 - 16:16
Link: Social Enterprise: Proceed, with Caution

In a burst of entrepreneurial spirit, the workforce development field is showing new enthusiasm for an old idea: creating “social enterprises” to employ low income jobseekers.

The theory is enormously appealing. We can create good jobs for constituents who have a hard time finding work elsewhere and the profits will help fund our nonprofit organizations. The reality, however, is far more complicated.

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Historic federal legislation embeds support for employee-ownership within the SBA

Tue, 09/18/2018 - 16:12
Link: Historic federal legislation embeds support for employee-ownership within the SBA

Employee-owned businesses offer a vital solution for the survival and success of small businesses. This legislation improves small business loan programs for employee-owned business concerns through the Small Business Administration.

The first federal level bipartisan legislation that highlights worker cooperatives, the Main Street Employee Ownership Act has just been signed into law. Driven by the efforts of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in the Senate and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez in the House of Representatives, this legislation will support small businesses that save jobs and invest in their workers and communities by transitioning to an employee-owned business form such as a cooperative (co-op) or an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).

The Democracy at Work Institute, along with its affiliated organization the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, played an educational role to inform the creation and development of this legislation, and is pleased to see the expansion of federal support for broad-based worker ownership.

Read the rest at the Democracy At Work Institute

 

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Co-op Power Restoration Efforts Continue Amid Florence’s Flooding Threats

Mon, 09/17/2018 - 16:11
Link: Co-op Power Restoration Efforts Continue Amid Florence’s Flooding Threats

Electric co-ops from more than a dozen states, including those from parts of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia that originally kept their crews available for local response, are now involved in power restoration where they are needed.

“The Arkansas cooperatives have sent approximately 100 pieces of equipment that include service bucket trucks, bucket trucks, digger derricks, pickups and pole trailers,” said Rob Roedel, a spokesman for Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc., adding that more crews remain available should they be needed.

“Personnel from the Alabama Rural Electric Association are keeping in close touch with their counterparts in North Carolina so plans can be made to shift crews from one area to another, as the need arises,” said Lenore Vickrey, the association’s vice president of communications. She added that if they are needed, “the crews can expect to spend a week to 10 days helping restore power.”

Read the rest at NRECA

 

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What History Books Left Out About Depression Era Co-ops

Mon, 09/17/2018 - 15:48
Link: What History Books Left Out About Depression Era Co-ops

In the spring of 1932, in Compton, California, an unemployed World War I veteran walked out to the farms that still ringed Los Angeles. He offered his labor in return for a sack of vegetables, and that evening he returned with more than his family needed. The next day a neighbor went out with him to the fields. Within two months 500 families were members of the Unemployed Cooperative Relief Organization.

That group became one of 45 units in an organization that served the needs of some 150,000 people.

It operated a large warehouse, a distribution center, a gas and service station, a refrigeration facility, a sewing shop, a shoe shop, even medical services, all on cooperative principles. Members were expected to work two days a week, and benefits were allocated according to need. A member with a wife and two kids got four times as much food as someone living alone. The organization was run democratically, and social support was as important as material support. Members helped one another resist evictions; sometimes they moved a family back in after a landlord had put them out. Unemployed utility workers turned on gas and electricity for families that had been cut off.

Read the rest at YES! Magazine

 

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The first commune in Kobane: construction and challenges

Fri, 09/14/2018 - 20:14
Link: The first commune in Kobane: construction and challenges

“The Canton system does not entirely follow my vision. Communes must be built”, a PYD member read Abdullah Ocalan's letter from Imrali among a few other members of PYD in the Kobane canton in 2014. The member paused for a bit after closing Ocalan's letter and addressed his friends, “We have a new task to do, friends.”

This story was narrated by Ferhad Hemmi, a journalist and one of the participants who took part in establishing the first commune in Kobani, during an interview. Hemmi was one of the attendees when Ocalan's letter was read in the center of PYD.

Ocalan proposed that demand in order to empower people at the grassroots level by making decisions through direct democracy institutionalized first in communes and then assemblies, council and a confederation of councils at a higher level. In democratic confederlism, commune is the smallest organizational and decision- making base. Ocalan's dissatisfaction with the Canton System comes from its hierarchal nature which resembles the State in its structure.

After Ocalan's call for establishing communes in Rojava, some members of PYD and other civil people came to gather to initiate the first commune in Kobane. The group was comprised of 10 people -- 4 women and 6 men-- varying in terms of age and social status.

Read the rest at openDemocracy

 

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A simple comment rating mechanism to make online discussion more constructive

Fri, 09/14/2018 - 19:49
Link: A simple comment rating mechanism to make online discussion more constructive

The psychologist Anatol Rapoport laid out the following principles of constructive criticism:

1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

I have made a proposal on WeCo (a Reddit alternative that is democratically governed as a cooperative) for a comment rating mechanism that communities could choose to adopt as a way of improving the comment sections, based on the Rapoport principles.

Read the rest at Medium

 

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Seward Co-op Board of Directors FAQ

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 16:49
Link: August 2018 Board of Directors Statement

Did the co-op hire a union busting lawyer?

No. After we became aware that the UFCW was interested in organizing our co-op in the fall of 2015, management spent the better part of the next year looking for a lawyer who represented both unions and management. Our goal was to find a lawyer who would help us form a neutral position regarding unionization. With our counsel, we drafted a neutrality policy regarding unionization in March of 2017. This management policy permitted the possibility of voluntary recognition. We also hired a negotiator who spent the better part of their career working for the UFCW. We wanted someone who understood the union position clearly, so that we could negotiate in a fair and reasonable manner.

Why did the co-op decide to not voluntarily recognize the union in 2017?

We were not provided the opportunity to consider card check or voluntary recognition. The employee organizing committee filed the petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold an election on the morning of June 7, 2017. We learned about the filing after a March on the Boss that occurred later that day.

Did Seward Co-op collude with Eastside Co-op to deny an applicant a position?

No, this is a misinterpretation of what transpired and an example of the misleading information we mentioned earlier. Seward Co-op calls all references and former employers for applicants. Our staff asks the applicants’ references three questions: Did the employee work with you on the dates listed on the application? Did the employee make the disclosed wage? And is this former employee eligible for re-hire? When any employer states “no” when asked if someone is eligible for rehire, that applicant is removed from the pool of candidates. Seward Co-op provides the same information to other employers that inquire. We don’t explain why they are ineligible for rehire. This is a standard hiring practice.

Does the co-op blacklist union activists?

Absolutely not! This accusation has no merit. The co-op does call references as any business would. We ask three questions: Did the employee work with you on the dates listed on the application? Did the employee make the disclosed wage? And is this former employee eligible for re-hire? These are all yes or no questions. If a reference comes back in which the former employer says no to the last question, the applicant is not eligible to be hired at Seward Co-op.

Read the rest at Seward Community Co-op website

 

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This is Our Moment

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 15:51
Link: This is Our Moment

"We are at a pivotal cooperative moment in history. More and more people feel excluded, both economically and societally.  The challenges ae sweeping: the changing nature of worke, increasing inequality and accelerating information technology that passes some people by and exploits others. People are looking for answers..."

 

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Free Online Course - Economic Democracy: The Cooperative Alternative

Tue, 09/11/2018 - 13:54
Link: Economic Democracy: The Cooperative Alternative

What would happen if workers ran their own businesses? Would worker-managed firms make the same decisions as their capitalist counterparts? Could such an economy be efficient? What policies could be deployed to promote a cooperative sector?

This course will focus on these central questions as we discuss the internal impact of employee ownership; productivity, governance and management, as well as the external impact of employee ownership; spillovers for health, democracy, and the local economy.

We will also discuss the simple economic theory of the labour-managed firm. Cooperatives have many attractive features, including high productivity. But they account for a relatively small proportion of GDP in most economies. We analyse possible reasons for this apparent paradox. There is widespread interest around the world in cooperatives as an alternative to the capitalist corporation, particularly since the financial crash of 2008. Economics and other social sciences sharpen the debate on cooperatives. After taking this course, you will be better prepared to participate in public discussion on cooperatives, join a cooperative, or even start a new one.

Read the rest and enroll at edX

 

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The Solidarity Economy: An International Movement

Tue, 09/11/2018 - 13:00
Link: The Solidarity Economy: An International Movement

Abstract:
This article describes the appearance of a solidarity economy movement in different national and continental contexts, stressing the diversity of practices within civil society at local and international level. Emerging in the last decades, these initiatives, which are both political and economic in nature, have extended and renewed the social economy, thereby offering a concrete alternative at a time of capitalist crisis. As such, the movement cannot be overlooked in the quest for a new economic model and public action.

Read the rest at RCCS Annual Review

 

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Wobbly: an app for 21st century workers’ power

Mon, 09/10/2018 - 17:22
Link: An introduction to Wobbly: an app for 21st century workers’ power

Wobbly is a workplace organising platform, being designed and prototyped by a small voluntary team of developers. It’s a communication and coordination tool, with structures and processes modelled on the IWW’s organising style (hence the name, coming from the IWW nickname). We’re creating a space for energetic, powerful, and democratic unions to win struggles, grow.

Three summers ago I was walking around an Edinburgh suburb, posting residents leaflets on discount dentistry. I stopped and asked myself, what can I do to stop this from happening to anyone else? We are getting dropped off by a van in the middle of nowhere with a map and a stack of leaflets, so how are we supposed to build any kind of collectivity? I suppose we’ve all got these phones, could that be the start of something?

I borrowed a book on Java from a friend studying physics. I started going to Lean Agile and programming language meetups, in order to meet like-minded developers and get to know how the industry worked.

In that time I have also worked as a rider for Deliveroo, which is much larger than the leaflet delivery company but not free from the same problem: the workers the service relies on are divided and atomised. I’ve come to understand this as a system-wide phenomenon in most jobs in the UK. And with Deliveroo in particular, having an unquestionable algorithm as your boss is not a pleasant way to work.

I have been working on some variety of union app ever since.

Read the rest at Notes From Below

 

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Co-op values in the modern world

Mon, 09/10/2018 - 17:16
Link: Co-op values in the modern world

It may seem like the soft side of business, but values are at the heart of every example of co-operative excellence – and core to the advisory work of Co-operatives UK.

The International Co-operative Alliance has codified 10 values – six co-operative and four ethical. The co-operative values – self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, solidarity – describe the design of the business. The ethical values – honesty, openness, social responsibility, caring for others – describe its operation.

Alongside these are seven principles – three on how co-op ownership should be structured, three on co-op culture and one on the independence of the business as a democratic enterprise. As Sion Whellens of Calverts Worker Co-op says, while the structure and independence of ownership makes you a co-op, it is your commitment to co-operative culture that makes you part of the wider co-op movement.

Read the rest at Co-operative News

 

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Good Food Collective harvests thousands of pounds for families in need

Thu, 09/06/2018 - 19:14
Link: Good Food Collective harvests thousands of pounds for families in need

So far, the collective has gathered 9,880 pounds of produce, and about three-quarters of it has gone to nonprofits, including Pine River SharesMancos FoodShare and Manna’s Wednesday night markets for those in need, she said.

The collective has five full-time staff members and it is hiring 12 part-time staff members from Fort Lewis College. They also regularly hold community events for volunteers to help glean food as well, Landis said.

Two websites connect growers with harvesters. Fruitglean.org allows anyone to list a tree in need of harvesting, and people can call fruit-tree owners to ask to harvest it, she said.

Durangoans who wish to harvest excess from their garden regularly and donate it can list themselves on freshfoodconnect.org. A staff member picks up excess produce every Wednesday on an electric tricycle and delivers it to the Manna Market, Landis said.

Read the rest at the Durango Herald

 

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Collaborative Leadership Certification Program

Thu, 09/06/2018 - 19:03
Link: Collaborative Leadership Certification Program

humanizing leadership skills and practices

Online Training | 10 Sessions | Apply by Sept 13th

Increase your leadership capacity with:

  • Democratic Management Tools
  • Real Solutions to Harmful Power Dynamics
  • Beyond Delegation to Actual Ownership
  • Better Manage the Never Ending Task Lists
  • A Community of Support

Applications due Thursday, September 13th! Apply below.

Read more and apply at Round Sky Solutions

 

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Can big co-ops live up to the movement’s values and principles?

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 21:15
Link: Can big co-ops live up to the movement’s values and principles?

Failure to understand and implement co-op values can lead to co-op failure. A 2016 study by Peter Couchman and Murray Fulton – When Big Co-ops Fail – indicates that co-ops which fail present similar early warning signs. These include falling silent on co-op identity and having managers with no interest or belief in the model.

The research is based on analyses of crises at big co-ops. It found that directors who fail to understand their role in a co-op are likely to appoint managers who are not supportive of the movement’s values and import mainstream solutions rather than adopt a co-op one. The paper suggests the root of failure is being unable to understand the nature of a co-operative.

“The earliest sign is a co-operative which sees being a co-operative as a problem, not a solution,” they warn.

Read the rest at Co-operative News

 

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Sparking a Mini-Movement of Worker Cooperatives in Southeast L.A.

Tue, 09/04/2018 - 17:48
Link: Sparking a Mini-Movement of Worker Cooperatives in Southeast L.A.

Gutierrez was determined to spur economic change and, to that end, decided that her neighborhood needed more community-minded businesses in which workers shared management and ownership — in other words, it needed more worker cooperatives.

So, taking her experience in running a business, she helped open Collective Avenue Coffee, a pop-up coffee shop in Lynwood that, within three years of existence, has helped spark a mini-movement of worker cooperatives in Southeast L.A. The coffee shop will soon be one of four worker cooperatives that will co-locate in COOP LA — a venture that workers say could be the first commercial space in California to be comprised only of worker cooperatives.

“We’re going to revamp small business development, not from outsiders, but by strengthening existing communities,” Gutierrez says. “We’re not keeping the community separate … We’re including them as part of the process.”

Read the rest at Next City

 

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Worker Cooperatives and Revolution

Mon, 09/03/2018 - 17:18
Link: Worker Cooperatives and Revolution

The capitalist mode of production does not permit a socially efficient allocation of resources. Resource allocation is determined by the twin structural imperatives of having purchasing power (on the demand side) and of chasing profit (on the supply side). If one has a need but lacks the money to back up that need, as for example the billion children worldwide living in poverty do, one’s need will not be met by the market.

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From Clans to Co-ops

Mon, 09/03/2018 - 17:11
Link: FROM CLANS TO CO-OPS

From Clans to Co-ops explores the social, political, and economic relations that enable the constitution of cooperatives operating on land confiscated from mafiosi in Sicily, a project that the state hails as arguably the greatest symbolic victory over the mafia in Italian history. Rakopoulos’s ethnographic focus is on access to resources, divisions of labor, ideologies of community and food, and the material changes that cooperatives bring to people’s lives in terms of kinship, work and land management. The book contributes to broader debates about cooperativism, how labor might be salvaged from market fundamentalism, and to emergent discourses about the ‘human’ economy.

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Buy a physical copy at Berghan Books

 

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Why I’ve Started to Fear My Fellow Social Justice Activists

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 17:07
Link: Why I’ve Started to Fear My Fellow Social Justice Activists

I am also concerned about who controls the language of social justice, as I see it wielded as a weapon against community members who don’t have access to this rapidly evolving lexicon. Terms like “oppression,” “tone policing,” “emotional labor,” “diversity,” and “allyship” are all used in specific ways to draw attention to the plight of minoritized people. Yet their meanings can also be manipulated to attack and exclude.

Furthermore, most social justice 101 articles I see online are prescriptive checklists. Although these can be useful resources for someone who has little familiarity with these issues, I worry that this model of education contributes to the false idea that we have only one way to think about, talk about, and ultimately, do activism. I think that movements are able to fully breathe only when there is a plurality of tactics, and to some extent, of ideologies.

I am not the first nor the last to point out that these movements for liberation and justice are exhibiting the same oppressive patterns that we are fighting against in larger society. Rather than wallowing in critique or walking away from this work, I choose a third option—that we as a community slow down, acknowledge this pattern and develop an ethics of activism as a response.

Read the rest at YES! Magazine

 

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