Unions & Cooperatives: Allies in the Struggle to Build Democratic Workplaces

Source: Lisabeth L. Ryder, Grassroots Economic Organizing, GEO 73/72 (I), February 26, 2008

As labor organizers, we struggle in the field every day to improve the lives of workers; we are in search of tools and alternatives for working people that will meet the needs of today’s casualized and insecure workforce, with shrinking or negligible benefits. It is in the spirit of innovative leadership that we propose that the labor movement use worker cooperatives, an alternative organizing strategy added to more traditional labor organizing methods, as a means of returning control of their lives to the American working people.

The work of unions is to create workplace democracy, and in the larger picture, economic democracy. Currently, we do this in the context of an adversarial relationship between employer and employee. A worker cooperative is an alternative that reaches outside of the limitations of this model, converting workplaces into democratically run institutions owned by the workers. Worker cooperatives are not a panacea for the woes of today’s labor movement. Yet worker cooperatives have a long history in the American workers’ struggle for economic democracy and hold potential for expanding the labor movement into unexpected workforces, as well as providing alternatives for better serving the workers we already represent.
Related:
Worker Coops Unite! Collaborative Double Issue with the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives
Source: Grassroots Economic Organizing, GEO 73/72 (I), 2008

Articles include:
Worker Cooperatives – A Powerful Force for Justice and Democracy
The People’s Grocery: Developing a Worker-Owned Community Grocery Store
Searching For the Next Cooperative Principle
A Strategy for Unions and Coops: Toward Building A Labor-Ownership Economy
Unions & Cooperatives: Allies in the Struggle to Build Democratic Workplaces
Our Eyes On the Prize: From a “Worker Co-op Movement” to a Transformative Social Movement
World Social Forum at a Crossroads: 5th International, Solidarity Economy, or Stand Pat?
Dreaming of America Beyond Capitalism? Gar Alperovitz
Autonomy and/Or Economic Development? David Ellerman and Helping People Help Themselves