WORCS: Worker Ownership Resources and Cooperative Services
WORCS is an initiative to start worker cooperative incubators


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Join us on Meet Up: http://www.meetup.com/LVWORCS/
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Saboteurs' Kitchen Coop

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Watch Film THIS WAY OUT: A Step-by-step Guide to Setting up Worker Cooperatives

Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Workmen's Circle
  • 1525 S Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA (edit map)

  • Continuing Disk 1 and starting Disk 2 of 2 DVD Set:

    *Over four hours of workshop-ready subjects divided into chapters

    * Ideal for activists, individuals, high school, university & community college programs * Regional development * Community and faith-based organizations *Cooperative-incubating non-profits * Libraries

    *Existing cooperatives renewing & reviewing/new members *Vocational program

Future MeetUp.com/LAWORCS MARCH 16th 7PMat the Worker Men's Circle 1525 S Robertson Blvd LA CA:see the film SHIFT CHANGE
This is a very important film on a very important topic that is almost completely neglected by business schools. As our current economic structures veer ever closer to collapse, the cooperative alternative has become more and more attractive. Seeing the sophistication of these businesses and listening to these co-op member/owners talk about their work is totally inspiring. Another world IS possible – and it looks like this!

Jill Bamburg, Bainbridge Graduate Institute
external image 373104_551720898171669_201970348_n.jpgPRESERVED LOVE - Saboteurs' Kitchen Benefit Show with Sledding With Tigers, The Bone Garden, Son Jarocheros, Rica Catano, and FrankieFebruary 9 at 5:00pmMenLoCo Collective House - 4257 Menlo Ave., San Diego, CA 92115
external image teh19UQZmd0.png · Saboteurs' Kitchen Coop is going

Living authentically with nature for me goes beyond time spent admiring nature. I am looking for a path that allows me to walk on this earth without doing harm to nature. Like so many others, I recycle and try not to pollute or even buy anything new unless unavoidable. Living “sustainably” sounds as if we make a few adjustments we can sustain the same lifestyle westerners have come to expect. Yet I find these small adjustments unsatisfying because all around me the ecology is still spinning out of control.

For most of us in modern western society, our time is divided not only between the sacred and the secular, but between what is our time and what belongs to our employer. Over half of our waking hours are controlled by our employer, especially when you include the commute time to work. Not only are we not living in harmony with nature during this time, we are more often than not engaged in an activity which is destructive to the environment. We have to acknowledge ourselves are part of nature and part of the planet and work to better our circumstances in relation to the natural world, and each other. If we spend more than half our waking hours engaged in an activity which is detrimental to our own well-being and destructive of the environment, and then come home and take nature walks, we are not living authentically.

The economic activity that provides our food and clothing, our work, needs to be in harmony with nature. For a small minority of our population, this commitment has become a reality and I congratulate you. But for the millions more who toil in the disjunctive structure of corporate employment, I want to offer a solution. The investor-driven corporate business model has been responsible for worldwide environmental destruction and dehumanization of work. As difficult as it is to say out loud, while we work for them we are contributing to the destruction of the environment that we hold so dear -- we are killing our own spirit and the environment. We have to feed ourselves and provide a reasonable lifestyle for our families. We know that if we stopped working for the corporations, they would simply replace us. It’s a game of “chicken”: hold on to our lifestyle no matter what until the other person swerves, and you win. No reasonable person can leave a good job until a better economic opportunity presents itself.

By the year 2050, our world will be thrown into economic and social collapse and we are living in a dream going to work everyday as if it is never going to happen. Yet we do know deep in our hearts that it is going to happen. So we keep living the nightmare: we are on board a train speeding toward a cliff at an ever accelerating rate assuming the bridge will be built by the time we get there. Investor Driven Corporations externalizes costs of doing business as much as possible. They relocate to whichever municipality is offering subsidies. If they need a road built to their location, they ask the city to build it. It they pollute a river, they want the clean-up paid for on the public budget. Investor driven corporations must show constant growth or their stock value will plummet, so they consume workers in the same way they consume natural resources, constantly pushing down the price of labor by externalizing costs. Creating temporary and part-time employment, cutting benefits, pensions and healthcare, expecting social services such as emergency rooms to fill the gap.

They do this to create growth and ever greater profits. These profits are used to pay exorbitant CEO salaries and are sent to the external investors, neither of which live in the local community. After several centuries we are inured to the boom-and-bust cycle and assume there is no other way to do business. The design of the investor-driven globalized corporation acts as a pump to drain wealth out of the local communities and send it elsewhere. We see evidence of this dynamic in shortfalls in public budgets at all levels, the closed businesses and boarded up homes in our communities. There are other ways to do business which are less destructive of ourselves, our communities and our environment. We know we need to take back control of our economy, our food chain, our livelihoods and our communities. We need to build not just sustainable communities, but self-sufficient communities based on local economies. How do we untether ourselves from the beast while still providing for ourselves and our families?

We need to take the agency for job creation back from predatory capitalists whose rapacious greed has impoverished nations, plundered our resources and polluted the planet. Our first task is to change the structure of the workplace so that we have the power of self-determination in all our waking hours. We need create jobs with dignity and democracy as worker cooperatives where the workers own the business, including the means of production, share the profits, and make decisions democratically. A worker cooperative is a small business which is owned and operated by the people that work there and no one else. Worker cooperatives live and work in the local community. Worker cooperatives are the game changer we need to take back control of our economy for the 99%

Worker Cooperatives pay taxes into the local tax pool. They buy products and services for their businesses locally stimulating other businesses. They spend their paychecks locally, helping other small businesses. They buy a home and improve it, improving the neighborhoods they live in and employing locally. They coach their children's soccer team or volunteer in their local community. Worker cooperatives are better stewards of the local environment because they live there. Most worker cooperatives are green businesses. Because they source their resources locally and sell locally, transportation related pollution is reduced. Without having to pay exorbitant CEO salaries, the surplus benefit created by the work is used to benefit the workers. Because they can, cooperators are more flexible with regard to child care and other policies affecting families. Healthy families make healthy communities.

Regions of the world where there already are a preponderance of worker cooperative businesses in the economies, such a Mondragon in northern Spain and Emilia Romagna in Italy, weathered recent economic downturns far better because wealth is retained and circulated in the local communities. These local economies did better because a worker cooperative model is a better way to do business. If the burden is shared, that means more people can have access to being business owners. When business responsibilities are shared, there is less burn out. Regular days off and vacations can be planned because there are others that share the commitment and risk of business ownership.

All sole proprietorships have a crisis in leadership when the owner decides to retire or just wants a change. Most often, when a buyer or heir for the business cannot be found, the doors are closed and everyone loses their job. Worker cooperatives have a planned and smooth mechanism for people to move in and out of ownership.
A worker cooperative can be more viable in challenging economic environments and has competitive advantages because there is not a separate management layer paid to keeps tabs on the workers. Worker cooperatives fall under Sub-Chapter T of the IRS code and therefore are not taxed until the surplus is distributed as individual patronage dividends. As an co-owner in a worker cooperative, you own your job. Job security increased both because you are not at the whim of an employer and because you are empowered to make decisions to save or change your job.

When multiple co-owners are involved in decision making there is a structured process and the decisions tend to be more transparent and carefully reviewed. Worker cooperatives are a better work environment, mentally and physically, because the workers are making the decisions. Slow stable growth endures so they tend to exist longer that sole proprietorships. Better Compensation, real ownership, and wealth for the worker means the business will benefit from a reliable and stable workforce.

There are many experiments in worker ownership, including ESOPs or Employee Share Ownership Programs, but these plans have minimal ownership by the worker and no decision making power. There are numerous experiments in equity sharing and external stakeholders have voting rights. These can lead to conflicting interests and must be evaluated on case by case basis. There are also many different types of cooperatives such as Consumer Cooperatives (such as REI Inc.or your local co-op market), Marketing Cooperatives or Agricultural Cooperatives (like Sunkist and California Cheese).

These can be just as corporate and have as many labor problems as any corporation. A Cooperatively owned business is not necessarily a worker cooperative. The staff of a consumer cooperatives do not own the store, the members who own the store do not work there, and the staff of a consumer cooperative do not make the business decisions.

A true worker cooperative has no external investors, only the workers hold equity. Worker cooperatives are our bridge to a new local based economy. They give us back control of our lives and allow us to create the holistic, sustainable and self-sufficient lifestyle we desire, based on respect for nature and ourselves.

Worker cooperatives are not a new idea, in fact starting in the 1830s, worker cooperatives were formed by Knights of Labor in 19th century America, including hat makers, bakers, and garment workers and were designed to "cope with the evils of unbridled capitalism and the insecurities of wage labor". The Populist Movement of the late 1800s created financial and agricultural cooperatives. Mondragon in the Basque region of Spain has 120 worker cooperatives and has been in business over 80 years. The Emilia-Romagna Region in Italy is made up of worker cooperatives. Both are more economically stable and are more prosperous regions in their respective countries.

The steps to creating worker cooperative are the same for any small business: First you need decide what type of business you would like to create plus find others who would like to go into business with you. Next you need to write a business plan. These are very specific documents describing how the business will operate, potential costs and profits.

Next write your Constitution and By-Law so you can register your company (“Incorporate”) with the state. Apply for all permits and licensing and then you can apply for business loans and funding you need to start your business. Finally buy equipment plus secure a location and sign a lease and open your doors for business.

Each Worker/Cooperator will have a financial stake in the business but it can be financed over time. The first funding source is always the “ Three F Funding: Friends, Family and Fools” But there are funds set up that specifically work with worker cooperatives: The Worker Ownership Fund is a national loan fund for worker co-ops, The NCB - National Cooperative Bank, and LEAF - Local Enterprise Assistance Fund, the only national fund that focuses its investment on worker cooperatives, in business since 1982. And there are national and regional organization that can help:

US Federation of Worker Cooperatives http://www.USWorker.coop
National Cooperative Business Association http://www.ncba.coop
California Center for Cooperative Development http://www.cccd.coop
Arizmendi Association of Bakeries http://arizmendi.coop
Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives http://www.nobawc.org
Mondragon http://www.mondragon-corporation.com/ENG.aspx
For more information, resources and reading materials, check these web sites: American.coop is all about Worker Cooperatives in the USA
Evergreen Project in Cleveland video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gt_ZHUDhKjs
THE TAKE - The story of Argentina's occupied and recovered workplaces http://thetake.org/
THIS WAY OUT : A Step by Step Guide to Setting Up a Worker Cooperative: a Video from Mighty Small Films http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0g4Z8hhqDg&feature=youtu.be

http://www.WORCS.us which stands for Worker Ownership Resources and Cooperative Services is my web site which has links to this and many other resources.
Find us on Facebook and Meetup.com http://workercooperatives.org

http://www.worcs.us http://laworcs.us https://www.facebook.com/groups/LAWORCS http://www.meetup.com/LAWORCS http://lvworcs.us https://www.facebook.com/groups/LVWORCS http://www.meetup.com/LVWORCS http://www.occupyjobs.org https://workcoop.wordpress.com http://www.linkedin.com/groups/LVWORCS-Las-Vegas-Worker-Ownership-5114997