"WORKER OWNED: In Their Own Words, is a 30 minute documentary about the Linnton Plywood Association. LPA was a worker owned cooperative formed in 1952 to manufacture plywood. With a down payment of $1000 each, about 180 men, committed to purchase a share in LPA for $5000. The remaining $4000 for each members share was to be paid over time from their earnings as workers in the new operation. All workers were paid the same hourly rate for whatever job they did. Each member had one vote and the board of directors of the organization was comprised of the membership elected by the members. Based on hours put in they shared equally what was left after bills were paid, reserves of logs secured and new equipment purchased. Members made good livings for over 40 years. WORKER OWNED: In Their Own Words is edited from 16 hours of interviews, recorded during the fall of 2007. Eight former, long time, worker/owners of LPA shared their stories. Still photos shot by Mike Valteau, a worker owner, in the 1980s and '90s, helps us see the people and know the place."
Stewart Perry and Raymond Russell's classic Collecting Garbage about the worker cooperative Sunset Scavenger is previewable online and available inexpensively used (especially previous editions titled San Francisco's Scavengers).Sunset Scavenger held a monopoly on the San Francisco's refuse collection for over 50 years before selling to a larger corporation in the 1970s as the industry changed from personal to automated relationships with clients.
The Workers' Owned Sewing Company was, at peak, a 70-worker democratic cut-and-sew factory that operated for 21 years in Windsor, North Carolina.The company was founded in 1979 out of the bankruptcy of a 12 year-old form called Bertie Industries (after Bertie County).The manager of that firm, Tim Bazemore, reorganized the company as a democratic enterprise and helped relaunch it with the help of consultants including Frank Adams of ICA.Bazemore owned all the shares for the first two years but then began to sell them to the workers through payroll deductions.An elected 7-member board was responsible for all major business decisions, including hiring and firing the plant manager.After several years of subcontracting, the cooperative was successful enough in 1983 to sell directly to K-Mart and Sears.
The success of the cooperative helped activists to persuade Guilford College's Business Management Department to sponsor four-day summer workshops three successive summers, and contributed to the founding of the Self-Help Credit Union, which in turn helped the cooperative to expand.In 1993 Bazemore was invited by Bill Clintonto the White House to speak to bankers and community economic developers that "poor minorities could build enterprises, create jobs, and instill confidence in their future" as Clinton announced his Community Development Banking and Financial Institutions Act.
In 1992 Kathy Hoke interviewed Bazemore about his childhood, his time in and return from World War II, his activism, and his enterprises.The transcription of the interview is an inspiring read, an exceprt of which is below.
"Over the next twenty years, the cooperative they created faced its share of organizational and financial struggles, and they made some modifications, both to Burley's original product line and to its organizational structure. Through it all, the cooperative's worker-owners made every attempt to remain true to its fundamentals — making bicycling products under conditions of equal pay, equal ownership, equal distribution of profits, and equal voice in management, while retaining a social and environmental conscience. Grounded in these fundamentals, Burley grew to become a model of successful workplace democracy and one of the United States' largest manufacturing cooperatives, with one hundred full, voting members and nearly $10 million in annual sales.
"Such prominence, however, was not Burley's goal, and it arrived surprisingly quickly. In fact, it came as such a surprise that the cooperative struggled to accommodate the growth. In that struggle, Burley failed to anticipate and understand the end of its growth spurt or the fundamental changes occurring in the surrounding economy. In 2006, after nearly thirty years of cooperative manufacturing, Burley was on the brink of collapse as its competitors moved manufacturing to unregulated and lower-cost markets overseas."
In December, rumors surfaced that Checker would stay closed permanently. A variety of sentiments developed among the strikers. Some felt guilty about getting employees into something which might cost them their livelihoods. Some were frustrated and angry because the union was unable to reach a negotiated settlement. Some began to feel that if Checker did close permanently, it would be better than working for its management again.
In January, 1979, ex-Checker workers Steve Krumrei, Jim Cooley, Dave Everitt, Jim Symon and Jim Applebaum resolved to create a worker owned company. They felt they had, amongst the membership, enough expertise to be successful in the taxi business. When it became apparent that Checker management would not reapply for taxi permits, Union Cab incorporated. Later that month, it applied for 20 permits. From March to June, Union Cab contacted lawyers, made financial projections, applied to the Federal Communications Commission for a radio license and began seeking the estimated $150,000 necessary to begin initial operations.
By early June, Union Cab had only obtained enough money to put a down payment on the radios. Every day was a juggling act, as projected expenses had to be reevaluated in light of available sources of capital. Finally, a loan package was arranged: $95,000 came from the First Wisconsin Bank (Firstar), $35,000 from the Madison Development Corporation, $15,000 from Wisconsin Horizons and almost $15,000 fro the sale of preferred stock. On October 29, 1979, Union Cab of Madison Cooperative, Inc. opened for business, with 11 new cabs. It was difficult at the beginning, with no yellow pages ad and an average wage of around $0.80 per hour. The Cooperative lost $35,000 in the first three months. Losses were expected, but their magnitude concerned everyone. On February 14, 1980, the City permitted the cab companies to raise their rates. At that point, Union turned the corner."
An excellent collection that frames the U.S. movement in 1984. Essays by Derek Jones, Donald Schneider, Robert Jackall and Joyce Crain, Christopher Gunn, Edward Greenberg, Zelda Gamson and Henry Levin, and David Ellerman.
For the film LA COMMUNE we travel back in time to 1871. A journalist for Versailles Television broadcasts a soothing and official view of events while a Commune television is set up to provide the perspectives of the Paris rebels. On a stage-like set, more than 200 actors interpret characters of the Commune, especially the Popincourt neighborhood in the XIth arrondissement. They voice their own thoughts and feelings concerning the social and political reforms. The telling of this story rests primarily on depicting the people of the Commune, and those who suppressed them.
Deliberately, this film is an attempt to challenge existing notions of documentary film, as well as the notions of 'neutrality' and 'objectivity' so beloved by the mass media today. The film is not intended as an apologia on behalf of the Paris Commune. But at the same time, it attempts to show that the Paris Commune, for all its human frailty, its internal conflicts and its blundering, was an event of major importance, not least because of the way in which its leading reformers tried to work with social process, by a direct involvement with the community and its needs."
The Hoedads began in 1971 as a 20-person partnership. Two years later, when it became Hoedads Co-op Inc., it had expanded to 13 work crews employing close to 300 people — all during a severe recession. The Hoedads did reforestation work in every state west of the Rockies, including Alaska. In addition to planting trees, Hoedads fought forest fires, built hiking trails, restored watersheds, performed technical forestry work, collected seed cones, did precommercial thinning, and built campgrounds, fences and bridges.
Hoedads advocated for the right for women to work in the woods, formed a crew of Mexican-American workers and an all-women crew, and fought in the Oregon Legislature against the rampant use of herbicides. The Hoedads also lobbied extensively at the national and state levels for increased funds for reforestation, for worker safety and for the promotion of sustainable forestry practices.
In Eugene, Hoedads provided loans and grants to many local alternative businesses — from providing initial operating expenses for the WOW Hall to providing startup money for cooperative businesses — including restaurants, auto repair shops, wholesale food suppliers and construction companies. Hoedads also provided financial resources to environmental groups and a number of new community-based agencies.
Additionally, Hoedads spawned a dozen other forestry cooperatives in the Pacific Northwest, providing the business management and forestry skill training ground for many of those other worker-owned enterprises. The Hoedads also served as a role model for the national worker cooperative movement of the 1970s. Hoedads earned the respect of people throughout the United States for putting their ideals into practice.
"Many workmen perceived that this matter was never to be finally settles until every many should become his own employer, and consequently, almost as soon as the lock-out commended, they canvasses the project of a new foundry…It is a most beautiful operation to a bystander, to watch the streams of liquid fire, bubbling and boiling through the pipe into a large iron receptacle, while the workmen, like Vulcans, stand ground, each waiting for his turn to obtain the fiery fluid."
Along with a cooperative grocery store and free reading room, a stove foundry was created in Troy during a lock-out when workers struck for the 8-hour day and restrictions on child labor.44 worker-owners were employed, casting around 1,800 stoves per month.
The O&O Supermarkets were a series of worker cooperatives in the Philadelphia area in the 1980s.The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1357, in partnership with Philadelphia Area Cooperative Enterprise (PACE), organized the first two stores in 1982 as part of a negotiation to keep the stores from being shut down by A&P.Three other buy-outs followed, and one supermarket was started from scratch with city support.At peak in 1987, there were s