Inclusion and Economic Democracy: Lessons From The Worker Co-op Movement

Sunday, June 8th, 11:00 AM to 12:15 PM
Room 342

As the worker cooperative business model is increasingly recognized as an important economic alternative, it is essential that the model is expanded within the economically and socially marginalized communities that need it most. This panel will address two factors important to ensuring that this goal becomes a reality. First, we want to create a space for worker-owners to share their stories with their own voice. They are the people with the lived experience to teach what works and what doesn’t. Second, in order for us build a multi-racial and cross-class movement for social and economic justice, there are lessons to be learned from the efforts of worker cooperatives that represent the diversity we seek to see in our movement.  Workers from long-established worker cooperatives, like Equal Exchange, and newly forming worker cooperatives, like CERO, have important real-world lessons to teach both the entrepreneurs who want to start worker cooperatives and the organizations seeking to support the development of worker cooperatives.

This panel will take an honest look at the benefits, challenges and barriers to be overcome in building worker owned cooperatives and movements in economically and socially marginalized communities.   Worker owners and cooperative developers will speak about the benefits of working in a cooperative from an economic and social perspective as well as the specific challenges faced in doing cooperative development in low income communities.  Panelist will also address how they have and have not been included in their cooperatives and the cooperative movement, and how systems and structures can be better organized to facilitate this participation with a specific eye towards concrete steps and lessons learned that New Economy organizations can draw from.

Collaborative live notes: