Friday, October 9, 2009

History of Time Exchange During Depressions

Notes on History of Time Exchange During the Great Depression
(from John Curl’s Book “For All the People”, p. 36-38, 165,-172)

Robert Owen’s Cooperative Store
-at new harmony
-community members received supplies, groceries, clothing on credit, which they redeemed w/time credits for work performed
-labor notes used at store were also traded between communities

Josiah Warren’s Labor for Labor Store (aka Time Store)
-facilitated exchange between small , self-employed producers
-valued products based on time
-received time credits which they could use to buy goods
-everyone’s hour equal
-one hour equaled 12 lbs of corn

Philadelphia Producers’ Exchange Association
-goods priced based on time to produce, plus dollars for materials cost
-producers paid 25 cents/month for overhead
-run democratically
-spun off 2 more stores

Unemployed Exchange Association (UXA)
-Started in E. Oakland
-unemployed went around neighborhood offering to do home repairs for junk
-junk was taken to distribution warehouse/store
-at first barter, then scrip notes
-they could write checks against their accounts
-eventually allowed partial trade in cash
-all work equal to 100 points per hour (no differentiation)
-goods valued based on time to produce/fix with a little adjustment for market value sometimes
-association provided dental, medical, nursery school, barber, housing, firewood
-distributed 40 tons of food/week
-general assembly was decision-making body, highly functional and harmonious
-operating committee elected every 6 months to coordinate functions
-600 members in 1933, at its peak 1200 members
-eventually had production centers/factories: foundry, machine shop, woodshop, garage, soap factory, printshop, food conserving, nursery and adult school

Pacific Cooperators League
-22 self help groups in East Bay, 9 in SF and peninsula, and one in San Jose
-in Berkeley, garage, flour mill, wood yard, store, food conserving, weaving, newspaper, food from farm

Berkeley Unemployed Association (aka Berkeley Self Help Cooperative)
-sewing, weaving, shoe repair, barber, food conserving, wood yard, kitchen and dining, commissary, garage, machine shop, woodshop, painter, carpenter
-several hundred members with full medical and dental benefits

San Jose Self Help Coop
-had same services as Berkeley Pacific Cooperative League
-1200 people involved

LA County
-75000 people in 107 self help groups
-participation in fall harvest in exchange for crops
-names: LA Exchange, Compton Relief Association, Unemployed Association of Santa Ana
-morphed into united group called Unemployed Cooperative Relief Association (UCRA) with 200000 members
-held demonstrations and forced LA County Board of Supervisors and municipal governments to give grants to UCRA for gasoline, trucks, and food staples

Seattle Unemployed Citizens League
-early 1930s
-fishermen’s cooperative shared boats with unemployed
-local farmers donated unmarketable produce
-UCL had 22 local commissaries where food and fire wood could be exchanged for home repairs, doctors visits, etc.

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