Melissa Hoover, Founding Executive Director of the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives, discusses the state of the worker cooperative movement in this wide-ranging C-W.org Interview. Among the topics covered: the challenges of building a member-financed trade association, the growing diversity within the movement, the search for ways to fill capital gaps, and the challenges of developing democratic workplaces in an economy dominated by non-democratic ownership forms.
Hilary Abell has served at Executive Director of Women’s Action to Gain Economic Security (WAGES), an incubator of green housecleaning worker co-ops in the San Francisco Bay Area, since 2003. At present, the WAGES network includes five worker co-ops that provide living wages and business ownership for their largely Latina workforce of 85 worker-owners. WAGES is also working to expand the model beyond the Bay Area. In this C-W.org Interview, Abell discusses the challenges of putting the principles of worker ownership into practice and efforts underway to expand the WAGES model beyond its northern California base.
Rodney North has been a worker-owner of Equal Exchange for over a dozen years, where he serves as “the Answer Man” responsible for public relations and Vice Chair of its Board of Directors. The Massachusetts-based cooperative has 80 worker-owners and $34 million in annual sales, making it among the nation’s leading worker co-ops. In this C-W.org Interview, North discusses the group’s unusual funding model, its relations with consumer and agricultural co-ops, and current challenges faced by worker co-ops in the United States.
John Logue is Founder and Executive Director of the Ohio Employee Ownership Center, based at Kent State University. Over its first 20 years has helped more than 81 companies became partly or wholly employee owned, creating 14,685 new employee owners. Follow-up research on data through 2003 for 49 of these firms found that they had created $349 million in equity for their employee owners. interview-logue.doc