We've organized a cool bike tour of Berkeley worker coops to coincide with the Progressive Opportunities Conference. Bike tour on Saturday, the conference on Sunday. Check out the details on our Facebook page rr go straight here to register for the bike tour and/or the conference.
Be a sport and help us spread the word about the conference! NoBAWC is doing a worker coop panel and another session has the organizer of the worker coop credit union, Mike Leung, as one of the presenters. Plus, NoBAWC will be selling food and drinks at the conference to showcase our delicious food coops: Arizmendi, Cheeseboard, and Nabolom Bakery. We also need volunteers to work the registration table and help out selling food throughout the day. Please e-mail email@example.com if you can volunteer for a two-hour shift on Sunday the 26th of February at the Brower Center in Berkeley.
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.
Once Again Nut Butter is a 100% employee-owned, democratic ESOP that produces peanut, almond, and cashew butters, honey, and a variety of other products from the town of Nunda in Western New York.Once Again has been democratically operated for 35 years, has 30 employee-owners,and had revenues of $14 million in 2007.The company operates on a 1 member, 1 vote sytem, distributes profit shares equally to all owners, and has a 3.5 to 1 compensation ratio of highest to lowest paid employees.
Thecooperative will install, own, and maintain the panels that they install and sell the generated power to the host institutions.As a for profit business they are entitled to government solar incentives that non-profit universities and hospitals cannot receive.Because solar installation is not a year-round business in the Ohio, the cooperative diversified with a weatherization program for the colder months in order to create full-time jobs.
CEO Steve Kiel, who says he is like an employee of the cooperative's 20 worker-owners, explains his goals include structured wealth creation for the workers' long term economic security. A share of the company's surplus is allocated to the workers but retained in the company, capitalizing the business while creating long-term individual savings.
"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."
"The Cheese Board opened in 1967, when revolution was in the air, in the slip of a space that now houses The Juice Bar Collective. On the first day of business, original owners Sahag and Elizabeth Avedisian grossed less than a hundred bucks after an initial investment of just a few hundred dollars on cheese. The couple began selling a selection of high-quality cheeses in stark contrast to the massive orange blocks wrapped in plastic that passed for American cheese then.
How times have changed. And we’re not just referring to the fact that worker-owners no longer streak naked across the median strip (as they did, legend has it, “back in the day.”) Today, the store sells 300 to 400 goat, sheep, and cow milk cheeses from all over the world, including many artisan American offerings. The store also sells its trademark sourdough baguette and baked goods, such as scones, muffins, cookies, and chocolate things, as well as focaccia, rolls, challah, and other breads.
The Avedisians, who had worked on a kibbutz in Israel, wanted to run a democratic shop where all the workers were owners and shared the wealth. So in 1971 the couple converted the business to a collective, bringing their six employees into the fold as equal partners. To this day, a new employee earns the same hourly pay as one who has been with the cooperative since the beginning. Elizabeth Avedisian, now in her 80s, still does two shifts a week at the store, without fanfare. Her ex-husband Sahag, who left the collective and the Bay Area years ago, passed away in 2007.
Submissions for the 2012 conference are invited from all relevant fields of study including comparative economic systems, industrial and labor economics, organizational studies, management studies, institutional economics, evolutionary economics, development economics, sociology, psychology, political science, law, and philosophy.Abstracts for proposed papers should be submitted by March 31st.
The IAFEP is dedicated to exploring the economics of democratic and participatory economic organizations, such as labor-managed firms, cooperatives and firms with broad-based employee share-ownership, profit-sharing and worker participation schemes, as well as democratic nonprofit, community and social enterprises.The IAFEP Conferences, which take place every two years, provide an international forum for the presentation and debate of current research and scholarship on the economics of participation.
Programs andsome papers from some of previous year's conferences are available:
A worker cooperative is an organization that is owned and managed by its worker-owners. There are two important characteristics of worker cooperatives: the workers invest in and own the business, and the decision-making is democratic, generally adhering to the principle of “one worker-one vote” since all shares of the cooperative are held by the workers, each owning one voting share.
To become an owner, the workers usually invest with a buy-in amount of money when they begin working for the cooperative. At the end of each year, the worker-owners are paid their portion of money the business makes after expenses. In most businesses this is considered profit, in cooperatives it is called surplus. Generally the surplus is distributed according to hours worked, seniority, or other criteria.
Are There Worker Cooperatives in the US?
Historically, cooperatives have a stronger and, in many cases, more developed presence in foreign countries, specifically Italy and Spain. Researchers and practitioners at the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC) conservatively estimate that there are over 300 worker cooperatives (or democratic workplaces) in the US, employing over 3,500 workers and generating around $400 million in annual revenues.
The greatest concentration of worker-owned businesses is in the Northeast, the West Coast and the Upper Midwest. The vast majority of these worker cooperatives are small businesses, although there are some notable larger cooperatives. Cooperatives range across a variety of industries in the US, including retail and service sectors, and manufacturing and the skilled trades. Historically, there has been a strong existence of cooperatives in the natural foods industry. More recently, there has been an increase of worker cooperatives in the technology sector and home health care.
At this point, the USFWC is the only organization in the US that represents worker cooperatives on a national scale. In addition to the USFWC protecting cooperative interests nationally, there are also local networks and federations scattered throughout the San Francisco Bay area, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oregon, the Boston area, and in western Massachusetts and southern Vermont. The University of Wisconsin released a study about the economic impact of the entire cooperative sector. You can access the study here.
Cooperatives are a type of company in which control is on a one person/one vote basis. Cooperatives can be set up as partnerships or corporations, and in some states, there are worker cooperative statutes. Whatever form a cooperative takes (most are set up as corporations), they qualify for special federal tax benefits. Cooperatives are the oldest form of employee ownership in the United States, dating from the early 1800s. Although they are not common in larger businesses, they make up a large portion of small employee-owned businesses.
Formal voting control must be on a one-person/one-vote basis. Usually most employees must be shareholders, although as many as half can sometimes be excluded. Generally, a cooperative cannot pay dividends, and must pay out any excess earnings not held in the company to employee shareholders based on salary, time worked, or some other work-related basis. However, if non-employee owners have a small percentage equity share and return on investment is limited, these owners can still be rewarded through dividends.
Persons who sell shares to a worker cooperative are exempt from capital gains taxes if the gain is reinvested in U.S. securities. Cooperatives are exempt from double taxation on dividends to employees that are based on time worked or salary rather than equity. Most small businesses will not need to pay out dividends anyway (see discussion in Financial Benefits in a Corporation), but this exemption gives cooperatives more flexible tax planning options than other corporations, letting them treat profits like either an "S" or a "C" corporation without changing their legal structure.
Set-up costs for cooperatives are even cheaper than direct ownership plans for two reasons: worker cooperative laws in many states make it simple to incorporate and qualify as a cooperative; and, there are professionals and organizations offering inexpensive services or financial support for cooperatives.
Typically, a worker cooperative makes employees owners after a probation period. Employees than either buy shares of stock that have real equity value that fluctuates with the company's value or they purchase a membership share, which has a fixed value that may or may not have interest added on to it as the employee accumulates seniority. When an employee leaves, either the cooperative or another employee buys the share (if it is real equity), or (if it is a membership share), the cooperative pays off the employee and a new employee buys a share at the base price.
Most cooperatives establish an internal account to which profits are allocated, usually to all cooperative members based on hours worked or some other equitable measurement of their contribution. These profits are deductible to the company, but taxable to the employee. When employees leave, they are paid out their account balances, usually with interest. In the interim, cooperatives may also pass some of the profits directly through to members, perhaps to help them pay taxes they owe on the profits allocated to their accounts.
Hands on experience working in co-ops and social justice organizations.
Consensus decision-making training & facilitation.
Policy Governance experience from conception, development to day to day practice.
Working understanding of Collective Management and models.
Open Space Technology trainer and facilitator.
Participant in the Democracy At Work Network peer training program sponsored by the United States Federation of Worker Co-ops.
Current Projects: Member and Staff Engagement process to determine the strategic vision of Olympia Food Co-op into the future. Developing a Co-op think tank to advance a co-op economy in the Portland region.
The process really started to snow ball when we discovered that an old friend of from the Bay Area, a coop founder himself, had begun coaching other organizations on the process. Shawn Berry (along with Tom Clossey) formally organized their wood shop, Woodshanti into a worker-owned cooperative in 2002. Since that time they have become a model for progressive business development, joining other long standing coops in Northern California like Rainbow Grocery and CELLspace. You can read more about Woodshanti and coops in general at www.go.coop.
The opening session will introduce the cooperative model and discuss how it can be used to preserve existing firms and develop new ones with a cooperative business model. There will be two speakers:
Newell Lessell, executive director of the ICA Group, will discuss the merits of the co-op model in retiring owner succession planning and conversions as well as in startups of new firms.
Jonathan Halle (SNHU ’93) is the managing member of the Cooperative and an Architect with Warrenstreet Architects in Concord NH, an employee owned cooperative.
Wednesday, March 14
This session will have two speakers from prominent New England cooperatives:
Howard Brodsky, Co-Founder, Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer of CCA Global and an SNHU trustee will discuss how he and his co-founder decided that a shared services cooperative of small business owners would be a better model than the franchise model.
Roberta MacDonald, Sr Vice President of Marketing for Cabot Creamery will speak about Cabot’s cooperative advantage in marketing and the Cabot experience of cooperative ownership.
Wednesday, April 11
The final session will examine the experience of consumer ownership of cooperatives with two speakers from two of the finest national examples of consumer ownership in the US:
Cooperatives 101 Workshop by Caroline Savery, cooperative business development consultant with Keystone Development Center
Thursday, Feb. 23 @ 7–9 p.m.
Feeling glum about the recession? P.O.'ed at the impact corporate greed has had on your local economy? Frustrated by the job market? Wondering how you can apply your talents to meet the needs of yourself and your neighbors? Are you an entrepreneur who wants to improve your community? Are you curious about how co-ops work? Come learn all about cooperatives—what they are, how they work, and why they offer a promising alternative to "business as usual!"Join us at The Big Idea Cooperative Bookstore on February 23 at 7 p.m. as Caroline Savery, cooperative business development consultant with Keystone Development Center, presents a Cooperatives 101 Workshop (worker-owned, housing, more). Free food provided!
A Discussion Course on Cooperatives
Thursdays, March 1–April 19 @ 7–9 p.m.
This eight-week Discussion Course on Cooperatives is a group-education tool for people who would like to become familiar with cooperative economics, history, and philosophy. The Course is designed as a tool for Outreach to Co-op Members, to be used to facilitate greater participation in the Co-op community. The discussion format is centered around carefully selected readings made accessible through a concisely planned anthology. The short readings and lively interpersonal discussions make it the ideal learning environment for busy people who would like to maximize their educational experience. Free food will be provided The class is limited to six participants, so please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your seat and course readings! http://www.cgin.coop/discussioncourse
This one-day conferenceJune 13, 2012 at Drexel University in Philadelphia will explore what two cities can learn from one another about building cooperatives and cooperative networks, and what cooperatives contribute to cities, regions and states. Our conference also provides an opportunity to learn from the Honorable Chaka Fattah about the National Cooperative Development Act, a bill he introduced into Congress on December 15, 2011.Hosted by Drexel University’s Center for Public Policy.
Invited speakers include:
Chaka Fattah, U.S. Representative, Pennsylvania’s 2nd Congressional District
Gar Alperovitz, University of Maryland and the Democracy Collaborative
Paul Soglin, Mayor, City of Madison, Wisconsin
Michael Nutter, Mayor, City of Philadelphia
Michael Swack, Carsey Institute, University of New Hampshire
Jessica Gordon Nembhard, John Jay College
Steve Dubb, Democracy Collaborative
The conference will include breakout sessions and workshops that examine specific cooperatives in detail, comparing those in Pennsylvania (mostly from Philadelphia) and those in Wisconsin (mostly from Madison):
Weaver’s Wy, Mariposa, Green Saw, Lancaster Farm Fresh, Energy Cooperative Association of Pennsylvania, People-for-People Credit Union, South Philly Food Coop, Kensington Food Coop, Ecology, Home Care Associates, Childspace
Willy Street, Regent Street, Isthmus Engineering, Just Coffee, Union Cab, Organic Valley, Summit Credit Union, Mifflin Street, Cooperative Care
For more information, contact:
Drexel University Center for Public Policy
Center for Public Policy
Drexel University Center for Public Policy
University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives
Drexel University Lindy Center for Civic Engagement
The Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance
Haverford College Center for Peace and Global Citizenship
NOTICE OF BID OPPORTUNITY.Agency Bid Number: 8205 -- Bid Title: MADISON COOPERATIVE CONFERENCE COORDINATOR
The above Official Sealed Bid is being let in your commodity area. To obtain additional information, login to VendorNet and click on SEARCH. Select "Official Sealed Bids". Next select "By agency bid number", enter the agency bid number in the text box as the keyword, and click on "Search Vendornet". The system will locate the bid announcement for your review.As a registered vendor, information you provide on your company and its goods/services is stored in the central statewide vendor database for inclusion in bidder list as they arise. The annual registration gives you automatic notification of all state agency procurements* over $25,000 in your areas of interest. You may elect to be notified of opportunities electronically or by first-class mail while also having the ability to search for and download current bids and state agency contracts at your convenience.