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Solidarity economies

"Economic democracy, embodied: A union co-op strategy for the long-term care sector." In Organizational imaginaries: Tempering capitalism and tending to communities through cooperatives and collectivist democracy. Emerald Publishing Limited, 2021.

  • Author: Sanjay Pinto
  • Unions and worker cooperatives have long represented distinct approaches to building worker voice. This paper draws from observations of the work of the “Co-op Exploratory Committee” of 1199 SEIU, the nation’s largest union local, which is seeking to expand the development of unionized worker cooperatives. Described by Martin Luther King, Jr, as his “favorite” union, 1199 SEIU has a storied history of organizing frontline healthcare workers and includes large numbers of women of color and immigrant workers among its membership. Since 2003, it has also represented workers at Cooperative Home Care Associates, the nation’s largest worker cooperative. Drawing from discussions among union officials, co-op leaders, and rank-and-file union members about the potential role of unionized worker cooperatives within the labor movement, the paper examines the creative tension between stakeholder and democratic logics in efforts to expand this model. It argues that continued union decline, heightened interest in economic alternatives, and systemic frailties exposed by Covid-19 may create new opportunities for building unionized worker co-ops at scale.

Meeting the Moment: An Early Assessment of the Immigrant Worker Safety Net Fund during the COVID-19 Pandemic (2020)

  • Report Authors: Nik Theodore & Agustin Chiarella
  • At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON)—a federation of community-based worker centers and advocacy organizations—implemented a plan to respond to the twin public health and unemployment crises that were rapidly unfolding. Making use of a national network of worker centers and their local organizational infrastructures, NDLON and its members quickly amassed and then administered cash and noncash aid, and provided emergency assistance to people who otherwise had been excluded from the federal government’s pandemic-relief initiatives. NDLON’s efforts constitute one of the primary civil-society responses to the exclusions faced by millions of immigrants who are not eligible for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and its Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program which provides relief to unemployed workers, as well as many state and local government relief programs.
"Cooperative cities: Municipal support for worker cooperatives in the United States." Journal of Urban Affairs 41, no. 8 (2019): 1081-1102.
  • Author: Stacey A. Sutton
  • This article examines the emergence of cooperative cities, or municipalities creating enabling environments for worker-owned cooperatives since 2009 by adopting legislation and budget initiatives explicitly fitted for these enterprises. Through a textual analysis of municipal documents, media accounts, and professional reports, I develop the cooperative cities typology that covers the spectrum of municipal activities: top-down catalytic initiatives where city leaders are instrumental, grassroots- and advocacy-led bottom-up initiatives validated by the city, and initiatives with complementary elements of both that are designed to strengthen and expand the cooperative ecosystem. Drawing on enabling environment theory, I present embedded case studies of three types of cooperative cities—developer, endorser, and cultivator—contrasting the strategic activities employed by each. I conclude by underscoring the importance of municipal support for worker cooperatives assuming that the grassroots movement does not become dependent on political champions, maintains autonomy, centers member-owners, and upholds cooperative principles.