Tuesday, September 27, 2011

United we stand

Oklahoma Gazette, 09-21-2011 » Page 13
By Clifton Adcock

Do you play well with others? A new organization wants to nurture economic security through the proliferation of the cooperative business model.

Advocates of cooperatively run businesses are looking to increase their number in the state by holding several meetings to inform others on the concept and how to get started.

The Oklahoma Worker Cooperative Network plans to host several “incubator meetings” throughout Central Oklahoma between Sept. 29 and Oct. 25.

Worker cooperatives are businesses owned and operated by the employees, said Robert Waldrop, the network’s gen-eral manager and one of the founders of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative.

The organization formed this year.

Waldrop said the current economic climate provided the ideal avenue for nurturing a proliferation of worker cooperatives.

“We need good jobs and the best jobs in effect are jobs owned by the worker, because there’s no chance of them being outsourced to India or China or places like that,” he said.

The group states its goal is to promote the development of worker co-ops in the state by creating a structure of support involving education, business incubation, access to financing and training in order to empower stakeholders to bring about economic opportunity, personal development and revitalize local communities.

The advantage of workers being involved in such cooperatives, said Matthew Jordan, OWCN board member, is that they are not prone to layoffs when the economy stumbles.

“Worker-owned cooperatives are local solutions to global problems,” Jordan said. “By encouraging the development of worker cooperatives, we can recession-proof our economy.”

The goal of the meetings is to help educate those interested in forming worker cooperatives on how to do so, Waldrop said. He’ll also share stories of such cooperatives existing in several states.

“The OWCN will develop and support worker co-ops by building public awareness and helping people work through the steps of starting a business,” Waldrop said. “We will take participants from the initial idea, to writing the business plan, funding options and operational management. Oklahomans are an independent breed, but we know the power of working together, as well as the value of selfreliance — and worker cooperatives are the best way to achieve both.”


All events start at 7 p.m. and end at 9 p.m. Pre-registration is not required.

Southeast OKC — Sept. 29 Midwest City Public Library, Room B 8143 E. Reno

Northeast OKC — Oct. 6 Lang Center of Corpus Christi Church 1010 N.E. 15th

Northwest OKC — Oct. 3 St. Charles Borromeo Church, Rooms A-B 5024 N. Grove

Southwest OKC — Oct. 4 Capital Hill Church of the Nazarene 3412 S. Shartel

Norman — Oct. 10 St. Mark the Evangelist Church, Lake Room 3939 W. Tecumseh

Shawnee — Oct. 11 Pottawatomie County Extension, Cowboy Classroom 14001 Acme

Stillwater — Oct. 18 St. John the Evangelist University Parish 201 N. Knoblock

Edmond – Oct. 24 Edmond Public Library, Room A 10 S. Boulevard

El Reno – Oct. 25 Owl Make It Shop 114 S. Rock Island

For more information, call 593-8327 or email info@okie.coop.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Media Contact: Joan Simon
Full Plate Restaurant Consulting

Small Food Businesses Move Beyond Family and Friends To Find New Investment Sources

September 20, 2011 (San Francisco) –The Slow Money movement, cited by Entrepreneur.com as “one of the top five trends in finance in 2011” is coming to San Francisco this fall; bringing with it small food business entrepreneurs from around the country and a roster of conscious investors and star speakers from the world of finance, food and the green movement.

The Third Annual Slow Money National Gathering (http://www.slowmoney.org/national-gathering/)
to be held October 12th through 14th at the historic Fort Mason Center on San Francisco Bay, will not only feature investment opportunities in dozens of enterprises on the cutting edge of food trends, but will also offer attendees the opportunity to participate in an emerging national conversation about how we can fix our economy from the ground up.

“In the 21st century, investing is not only about markets and sectors and asset allocation,” states Slow Money Founder and former venture capitalist Woody Tasch, “In a world that is speeding up and heating up, losing its soil and losing its sense of common purpose, investing is also about reconnecting and healing broken relationships. What could make more sense than taking a small amount of our money, turning in a new direction, and putting it to work near where we live, in things that we understand, starting with food."

The three day event is the third for the Slow Money Alliance, an emerging network that was launched in 2008 in response to Tasch’s book, Inquiries Into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as If Food, Farms and Fertility Mattered, which was immediately hailed as the beginning of a movement. More than 1000 people from 34 states and several foreign countries attended Slow Money’s first two national gatherings in Sante Fe and Vermont. In 2010 over $4 million was invested in 12 of the presenting enterprises and since then an additional $5 million has flowed to dozens of small food enterprises. Given that the Bay Area is in the forefront of the local foods movement, this year’s shift to a larger, West Coast venue is expected to spur enormous interest.

“Problems in the global food system parallel those in the global financial system. Investing in small food enterprises begins to fix many of the problems, quite literally, at their roots,” ” observed Slow Money Founding Member Judson Berkey of UBS. “This may be the only way to save a lot of small farms. Banks are out of the question,” continued Alexis Koefoed, a chicken farmer at Soul Food Farm in Vacaville, California. “The non-profit organizations that are supporting sustainable agriculture are great resources, and doing really important policy works, but when small farmers need cash, they need to go to private investors who are ready to lend them money.”

Among this year’s list of 100 prominent speakers and educators will be David Suzuki, the award-winning host of CBC’s “The Nature of Things;” environmentalist Vandana Shiva, named one of world’s most influential women by Forbes Magazine; Wes Jackson, founder of The Land Institute; Melissa Bradley, CEO of Tides Foundation; Leslie Christian, CEO of Portfolio 21; and scientist turned economist Chris Martenson, whose book and video series The Crash Course is an international best seller , and Thomas Steyer Founder of Farallon Capital Management, Managing Director at Hellman & Friedman and signatory to the Buffet-Gates Giving Pledge.

An “Entrepreneur Showcase” will spotlight two dozen food and farm entrepreneurs who are seeking funding. Break-out sessions led by recognized experts will cover topics ranging from farmland preservation to local investment clubs. Each day includes live music, film screenings, sustainably sourced food from local vendors, and many opportunities for networking and relationship building.

“Slow Money is about relationships, not only transactions,” said Berkeley based Ari Derfel, whose award winning restaurant Gather has been a recipient of Slow Money capital investment. “The National Gathering provides a wonderful environment that catalyzes the flow of money and creates social change.”

Part venture fair, part farm to table celebration, part forum on the future of the economy, the event brings together financiers, farmers and an unusually diverse constituency of folks who want to know where their food comes from and where their money goes.

"I left the world of global finance because it was fundamentally out of touch with the real world, the natural world," said Marco Vangelisti, a former an emerging markets specialist for a major international investment firm.  "Then I found Slow Money and realized that this could be the way back."

About The 2011 Third Annual Slow Money National Gathering
Event dates are from Wednesday through Friday October 12-14. The program will begin at 9 am every morning and end late evening. Cost is $595 for individuals, non profits and startups and $895 for professional investors, and philanthropists. Farmer and student discounts are available and Slow Money members receive a 10% discount. Further details and registration forms can be found online at www.slowmoney.org/national-gathering/ .

About Slow Money
The Slow Money Alliance has 2,000 members, including many leaders in social investing, philanthropy and organics. 15,000 people have signed the Slow Money Principles, a new vision of finance that promotes soil fertility, diversity, care of the commons and nonviolence. Since mid-2010, 11 local Slow Money chapters have emerged around the country and millions of dollars of has been invested in scores of small food enterprises, prompting ACRES USA to call Slow Money a “revolution” and Rodale to call it one of the top ten trends in organics. For more information visit www.slowmoney.org, call 510.408.7645 or email info@slowmoney.org.

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Photos Available Upon Request.

In Pockets of Booming Brazil, a Mint Idea Gains Currency

Posted 20 September 2011 - 11:05 PM
In Pockets of Booming Brazil, a Mint Idea Gains Currency
Towns Issue Their Own Money, Which Brings Local Discounts;

SILVA JARDIM, Brazil — After school and on weekends, Carlos Leandro Peixoto de Abril sells ice cream made by his grandmother from a stoop alongside the family's cinder-block home.

Instead of Brazilian reais, though, the 11-year-old prefers payment in capivaris—a local currency emblazoned with the face of a giant rodent. Bills in hand, Carlos then heads to a local grocer and buys ingredients, at a special discount, for another batch of grandma's goods.

The capivari circulates only in this dusty, agricultural town 60 miles north of Rio de Janeiro. The money is an effort by the town, one of the poorest in southeastern Brazil, to encourage its 23,000 residents to spend locally.
Cash, Credit, or Capivaris?

The capivari is one of 63 local moneys now circulating in needy towns and neighborhoods throughout Brazil.

Locals exchange capivari bills, emblazoned with the face of a giant rodent.

Ten months after introduction of the capivari—named after the capybara, a red lace-sized rodent common in a local river—the currency is lifting fortunes of local retailers and gnawing holes in the pockets of consumers. Capivaris pay for everything from haircuts to restaurant tabs to tithing at churches. The mayor even has plans to open a "Capivari Megastore," where local artisans and growers can showcase wares.

The capivari is one of 63 local moneys—including bills named after the sun, cactus and the Brazil nut—now circulating in needy neighborhoods throughout Latin America's biggest economy. The idea is gaining currency as towns seek a share of current economic growth. This month, a new local currency hit the streets in Cidade de Deus, the Rio slum that was the subject of a blockbuster film and a stop on President Barack Obama's South American tour this year.

While equal in value to the real, local currencies gain traction because local merchants offer discounts when using them. No one is forced to quit the real, but shopkeepers say greater volumes make the markdown worthwhile.

"It brings customers through the door," said Roseanne Augusto, manager of a Silva Jardim hardware store, where a builder one recent afternoon set aside 2,700 reais in supplies, about $1,520 worth. He then left the store, went to trade reais, and returned to pay with capivaris, saving 5%.

Capivaris are managed by a new, community-run Capivari Bank. Inside its one office, a brightly painted space the size of a small fast-food joint, are the bank's employees, three women in their 20s.

For each of the 50,000 capivaris first circulated, Capivari Bank holds an equal number of reais on deposit at a traditional bank. Tatiana da Costa Pereira, the bank manager, says she sees as many as 60 clients a day. A local police car patrols outside and a state policeman comes in regularly.

The currency has been so successful the town ordered a second run of the notes, which bear serial numbers, watermarks and a hologram alongside the whiskered varmint.

Celma de Almeida, a garment saleswoman, says she didn't like the capivari at first. "I thought it was hideous," she says. "But it's grown on me. Now it's reais that seem ugly."

The first local money in Brazil was the palma, or palm, which helped foster a local economy in Conjunto Palmeiras, outside Fortaleza in Brazil's northeast.

The idea was hatched by Joaquim Melo, a former seminarian who worked as a social activist there in the 1990s. He saw a currency as a logical alternative to an experiment with neighborhood credit cards, which proved too bureaucratic for local merchants.

"They liked the idea of cash, even if it was a different sort of cash," says Mr. Melo. A group of four small retailers that accepted the palma quickly grew to more than 200.

At first, Brazilian authorities frowned on the idea.

In 1998, just as Banco Palmas was getting under way, police with machine guns raided its tiny office, acting on a complaint from Brazil's central bank. The palmas hadn't yet been printed, but police seized a handwritten ledger and 100 reais.

Mr. Melo convinced the government the notes weren't a threat to the real. Because the palma was pegged to the sovereign currency, he argued, it was as legitimate as a coupon or other proxy for legal tender.

The project drew interest from other poor communities. By 2005, the federal government came on board, getting Mr. Melo to help launch community banks across Brazil.

Silva Jardim's mayor, Marcello Zelão, wanted residents to spend in their own community. Because so many residents work in richer towns, he says local retailers often lost out to competitors at the other end of daily commutes. "It was like even our newsstands were inferior," he says. "Like the same newspapers had better news if bought in another town."

With Mr. Melo's help, the mayor organized town hall meetings and made the pitch. Locals voted on a name and hired a local designer to draw up the bills.

In November, with seed money from town coffers, capivaris rolled off the press—in denominations no greater than ten. "Big notes get hoarded," says Mr. Zelão. "Small bills circulate."

Locals use the capivari everywhere. Rogério Simplício Costa, priest at the town's hilltop Catholic church, says parishioners put about 30 capivaris in the collection box during a recent Sunday mass. Nelcimar Fonseca, manager of a supermarket, says as much as 12% of sales have been in capivaris. Margareth Vieira Xavier, owner of a roofing shop, pays part of her workers' salaries in capivaris.

"They didn't like it at first," she says, "but then they realized it saves money on groceries."

In Cidade de Deus, where the new local currency is called the CDD, people are just getting used to the idea. "I've seen a lot of money come and go," says Benta Neves do Nascimento, a 78-year-old resident who remembers failed currencies during Brazil's turbulent economic past.

Her qualm with the CDD has little to do with economics, though.

"I don't like the way it looks," she says. That's surprising: The likeness on the 5 CDD note is of her, a tribute to her longstanding role as a community activist and spirit healer. "If the money outlasts me, people will think I was ugly."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Get Discount Tix Today! CA Time Bank Conference

California Time Bank Conference
The Armory Center for the Arts
145 North Raymond Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 91103

Saturday October 1, 2011 at 9:00 AM PDT
Sunday October 2, 2011 at 3:00 PM PDT

Today is the last day to get half price tickets (only $20 for the whole conference!) to the California Time Bank Conference! Get your tickets today and be a part of this inspiring event.

Register Now!
View the program and presenters at www.cafederationoftimebanks.org
Check out the new video and listen to the KPFK interview with Stephanie Rearick, who will be a presenting at the conference. See you there!

Day One: Saturday, October 1st from 9AM-3PM

8:00AM to 9:00AM Registration Coffee and snacks.
*This is a zero waste event. Please bring your own plate, cup and utensil.

9:00AM -10:30AM Welcome and Opening Plenary with Christine Gray, Edgar Cahn, Lisa Conlan Lewis, Sheryl Walton, Janine Christiano and Autumn Rooney.

10:30AM to 11:00AM Break and optional Tai Chi

10:30AM to 12:00PM – Choice of two sessions
Session 1 – Time Banking: Creativity and Collaboration with Linda Hogan, Autumn Rooney, Ron Saunders, Mark Lakeman and Marisha Auerbach.
Session 2 – Food Access and Food Justice with Jennie Cook, Olivia Chumacero, Charles Herman-Wurmfeld and Janine Christiano.

12:00PM to 12:30PM Lunch
*This is a zero waste event. Please bring your own plate, cup and utensil.

12:30PM to 1:30PM Lunch Panel – California Coordinators Present on Local Projects.

1:30PM to 3:00PM World Cafe – Discussion circles and networking facilitated by Joe Donofrio of Temple City Time Exchange.

6:30PM to 8:30PM Potluck Celebration at All Saints Church 132 North Euclid Avenue, Pasadena CA 91101. Thank you to the All Saints Church Time Bank!


Day Two: Sunday, October 2nd from 9AM-3PM

8:00AM to 9:00AM Registration Coffee, Snacks, Welcome
*This is a zero waste event. Please bring your own plate cup and utensil.

9:00AM to 10:30AM – Plenary Panel with Terry Daniels, Linda Hogan, Lois Arkin, Stephanie Rearick, and Sarah McGowan.

10:30AM to 11:00AM Break and optional belly dancing

11:00AM to 12:00PM - Choice of two sessions
Session 1 Organizing and Running a Time Bank Part One with Stephanie Rearick and Sheryl Walton.
Session 2 Starting a Micro-Enterprise within a Time Bank with Terry Daniels and Linda Hogan.

12:00PM to 12:30PM Lunch
*This is a zero waste event. Please bring your own plate, cup and utensil.

12:30PM to 1:30PM Lunch Panel Time Banking, Youth Courts and Restorative Justice with Edgar Cahn, Lisa Conlan Lewis, Sarah McGowan and Homeboy Industries.

1:30PM to 2:30PM – Choice of two sessions.
Session 1 Organizing and Running a Time Bank Part Two with Stephanie Rearick and Sheryl Walton.
Session 2 Cooperatives: Models, Principles and Governance with Lois Arkin and Terry Daniels

2:30PM to 3:00PM Co-Production and The California Federation of Time Banks Janine Christiano, Autumn Rooney, Natalie Zappella and Sarah McGowan.


Monday, October 3rd from 1:00PM to 5:00PM

Adult Learning Facilitation - Learn and practice the basics of getting information across to an audience. Please attend if you’re interested in helping to train or support other timebankers. Facilitated by Autumn Rooney and Stephanie Rearick at the Madison Casita 805 North Madison Avenue Pasadena CA 91104.


Tuesday, October 4th from 1:00PM to 3:00PM

Time for The World – Discussion with Stephanie Rearick and Leander Bindwald of Time for the World at the Madison Casita 805 North Madison Avenue Pasadena CA 91104.


California Federation Of Time Banks
213-973-BANK (2265)

Co-opoly: A Board Game For The Co-op Movement

From Shareable.net
By Beth Buczynski

Time and again, democratically-run companies have provent that a business built on the principles of equal access, ownership, and decision-making authority for all is far stronger than those built around traditional hierarchies.

Despite the communal ideals, a member-owned business is still a business, and as such requires a special mix of traditional and non-traditional management skills.

If you're interested in starting a worker co-op but feel unprepared for the challenges that lie ahead, you might be tempted to spend hours researching the concept online, but might be easier if you just buy a new board game instead.

Co-opoly: The Game of Cooperatives is a creative and exciting educational game currently gathering funding as a very promising Kickstarter project.

"Games have been proven to be unique resources that shape the way people learn, work, and interact with one another," states the official website, "but Co-opoly is more than just a board game. It is an innovative way for aspiring and existing cooperators, as well as other interested parties, to learn about co-ops and to practice cooperation."

The brain-child of The Toolbox For Education and Social Action, Co-opoly has been in continuous development during the past three years. It has evolved and improved based on input from cooperators, cooperative allies, and, just as importantly, from people who were being introduced to cooperatives for the very first time.

But, it's just a game. Can anyone really say that playing LIFE taught them anything about the challenges of living?

The game's creators realize that in order to have a real impact, the goal can't only be to entertain. To ensure that those who play Co-opoly walk away with knowledge and inspiration for the real world, each version of the game will come with lesson plans, workshops, discussion questions, information packets, and more for download – while a print introduction, “What is a Co-op?” will be included in each copy. This also makes the game a valuable resource for existing co-ops who want a fun way to train new members.

Assuming that the Kickstarter project reaches its funding limit in the next 17 days, the first version of Co-opoly to market will be the worker cooperative edition. But The Toolbox is also planning to create other versions for consumer and grocer cooperatives as well as for multi-stakeholder (“hybrid”) co-ops, like social co-ops, housing co-ops, student co-ops, and so forth.

Want to play Co-opoly and help support the growing cooperative movement? Click here to find out how you can donate to the project via Kickstarter.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New PB Process Launches in NYC

From the Participatory Budgeting Project Newsletter
Sept 14, 2011

Participatory budgeting has arrived in New York City. The PB Project is proud to serve as the lead technical assistance partner for a new $6 million PB process that is starting next month in four City Council districts. City Council Members Brad Lander, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Eric Ulrich, and Jumaane Williams are each setting aside at least $1 million in capital discretionary funds for residents to allocate.

Over the past several months, the PBP has worked closely with the Council Members, lead community partner Community Voices Heard, and a City-Wide Steering Committee of 40 organizations, to design and plan the process. District Committees in each of the four districts are now planning the opening round of neighborhood assemblies, which will last throughout October.

Volunteer budget delegates, selected at the assemblies, will then meet for 3-4 months to develop final budget proposals. In March 2012, residents in each district will vote on the proposals, and the top vote getters will be included in the city budget for 2013. We expect this pilot process to expand to additional districts and budget pots once the first cycle is complete. For more information, see today's NY Times article, the PBNYC website, and the full press release on the PBP website.

Additions to the PBP Team
We extend a warm welcome to the two newest PBP members: Donata Secondo and Pam Jennings. Donata and Pam interned with us over the summer, and we're thrilled that they're staying on board as Associates. Both will be working on PBNYC and other upcoming projects. For more info on the PBP team, click here.

New Orleans visit
In October, the PBP will be speaking in New Orleans - dates to be announced soon.
Read more about these and other stories on the PBP website.
Interested in bringing participatory budgeting to your community? Give us a shout!

Solidarity Economy in the Big Apple

Four New York City Council Members, Each With
$1 Million, Will Let Public Decide How It’s Spent

SolidarityEconomy.net via New York Times

Four City Council members, intrigued by experiments begun in Brazil to let ordinary citizens determine how government uses tax dollars, say they plan to allow their constituents to decide how $4 million is spent next year.

Through a process known as participatory budgeting, constituents in each of the four Council districts will be enlisted to develop and choose among proposals for local capital projects like street repairs, new parks and public artworks. The money — $1 million in each district — will come out of the council members’ discretionary funds. (Among the city’s Council districts, discretionary funds range in size from $1.5 million to $6 million.)

Three Democrats, Brad Lander and Jumaane D. Williams of Brooklyn, and Melissa Mark-Viverito of Manhattan, and one Republican, Eric Ulrich of Queens, are taking part.

Participatory budgeting has been used for years in some Brazilian communities and is now being used in parts of Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, but the only parallel in the United States, council members say, is in Chicago. Alderman Joe Moore introduced participatory budgeting in his district in North Chicago two years ago; he said in a telephone interview that it was “easily the most popular initiative that I have ever undertaken” in 20 years on the Chicago City Council. The projects financed so far, he said, included a community garden, a dog park and murals under train underpasses.

In New York, Mr. Lander has pushed the effort, saying he was impressed by the efforts that some of Mr. Moore’s constituents had undertaken. He cited a sidewalk-repair project for which a group of residents had walked every sidewalk in the district to determine which most needed to be fixed.

Mr. Lander said that was “the sort of thing that a council member is not going to be able to do, and the city is not going to be able to do, at that level of detail.”

The City Council’s use of its discretionary funds has been a focus of criticism in recent years, particularly for what is seen as a lack of transparency in how the money is distributed. Mr. Lander said he hoped participatory budgeting might help to address some of those concerns. He also said he thought it would increase voter confidence.

“I think that having the chance to be really directly involved in how this money gets spent will increase people’s faith that it’s being spent well,” Mr. Lander said.

The process will begin this fall, with neighborhood assemblies at which constituents can suggest needs in their communities and ideas for projects.

The most active volunteers will meet over the fall and winter to discuss the suggested ideas, determine their costs and then present the options to the public; residents at least 18 years old will then cast ballots on which projects they want to see financed. Those projects will then become part of the city’s 2013 capital budget.

Mr. Williams said he hoped the experience would help his constituents feel more engaged in city government.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Oklahoma Worker Cooperative Network Announces Fall Tour

Worker Cooperative Incubator Starts Operations - Plans 9 Meeting Tour of Central Oklahoma - "A Better Way to Go to Work"

The Oklahoma Worker Cooperative Network is a new organization that will help Oklahomans start worker-owned cooperatives.

"Worker owned cooperatives are local solutions to global problems," said Matthew Jordan, OWCN board member. "By encouraging the development of worker cooperatives, we can recession-proof our economy. The Mondragon worker cooperatives of Spain created 100,000 jobs and have never laid off an employee for economic reasons in 60 years of work," he added.

Oklahoma Worker Cooperative Network Announces Fall Tour
"The OWCN will develop and support worker coops by building public awareness and helping people work through the steps of starting a business. We will take participants from the initial idea, to writing the business plan, funding options, and operational management," said Bob Waldrop, general manager.

Board member, J.D. Thompson added, "Oklahomans are an independent breed, but we know the power of working together, as well as the value of self-reliance -- and worker cooperatives are the best way to achieve both."

The OWCN has an Advisory Committee, which includes community leaders such as Oklahoma City Councilman Ed Shadid, Oklahoma Senator Andrew Rice, and Dr. Phil Kenkel of OSU.

"We are kicking off our program with a 'Better Way to Go to Work' tour of central Oklahoma. These nine free workshops will explain what worker cooperatives are and how they can benefit Oklahomans," says OWCN board member Paul Wellman.

Using solidarity as a business model, the Oklahoma Worker Cooperative Network can teach people how to create good jobs for themselves, their families, and their friends, gain job security, drive economic development that benefits workers, protect families from economic insecurity, help workers gain more control over their lives and destinies, and help people find more fun, enjoyable, and profitable ways to work. We are growing an economy of solidarity, one worker-owned job at a time.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Steelworkers pass resolution on workers' capital, industrial democracy and worker ownership


Resolution No. 27

Workers’ Capital, Industrial Democracy and Worker Ownership

WHEREAS, USW members have billions of dollars invested in multi-employer pension

plans, such as the Steelworkers’ Pension Trust, single-employer pension plans, 401(k)

plans and labour sponsored investment plans in Canada, such as the Quebec Federation

of Labour Solidarity Fund and Working Opportunities Fund; and

WHEREAS, history has proven that these investments can produce both a healthy

monetary return and a social return that sustains and creates jobs and invests in our

communities; and

WHEREAS, we have too often seen the opposite result when we do not influence those

investments, leaving Wall Street to gamble with our money in ways that threaten our

jobs and destroy our communities; and

WHEREAS, our Union has good working relationships with most of the employers who

employ our members, many of whom need better access to capital investment to sustain

and create jobs; and

WHEREAS, we know that our members’ success is inevitably tied to our employers’

success, and that the surest path to success is built on a partnership, based on mutual

trust and respect; and

WHEREAS, USW members are an unending source of innovative ideas and insightful

feedback in their workplaces; and

WHEREAS, shared success is built upon shared rewards; and

WHEREAS, worker ownership has proven to be fruitful when ownership means much

more than just the value of a share; and

WHEREAS, the USW began efforts of collaboration in 2009 with the Mondragon

Cooperatives, the world’s largest worker-owned cooperative with nearly 100,000

workerowners, to develop unionized, worker-owned cooperatives in the United States

and Canada; and

WHEREAS, the economies of both the United States and Canada continue to struggle

after the 2008 financial collapse and the need for prudent investment of workers’ capital,

industrial democracy and worker ownership is as strong as ever.


(1) Our Union will pursue every responsible avenue to ensure that the investments of the

USW and of USW members collectively are used in a way that not only provides a

reasonable monetary return, but also provides job security, job creation and invests

in our communities.

(2) Our Union recognizes and encourages partnership with an employer as a sure path

to shared success, but only if it is a partnership of equals based on mutual respect.

(3) Collective bargaining needs to become a more continuous process that does not

simply begin and end with a contract. Markets and technology change frequently, if

our Union is not engaged in a continuous bargaining relationship, then we risk

having our employers make important decisions unilaterally.

(4) Our Union will continue to promote and develop unionized, worker-owned

cooperatives, as well as other forms of worker-ownership, as a profitable and

sustainable means to create jobs and invest in our communities.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Less Work, More Living

Working fewer hours could save our economy, save our sanity, and help save our planet
by Juliet Schor
from Yes!
Sep 02, 2011

Millions of Americans have lost control over the basic rhythm of their daily lives. They work too much, eat too quickly, socialize too little, drive and sit in traffic for too many hours, don’t get enough sleep, and feel harried too much of the time. It’s a way of life that undermines basic sources of wealth and well-being—such as strong family and community ties, a deep sense of meaning, and physical health.
Earn less, spend less, emit and degrade less. That's the formula. The more time a person has, the better his or her quality of life, and the easier it is to live sustainably.

Imagining a world in which jobs take up much less of our time may seem utopian, especially now, when a scarcity mentality dominates the economic conversation. People who are employed often find it difficult to scale back their jobs. Costs of medical care, education, and child care are rising. It may be hard to find new sources of income when U.S. companies have been laying people off at a dizzying rate.

But fewer work hours for people with jobs is a key step toward solving the unemployment crisis—while giving Americans healthier lives. Fewer hours means more jobs are available to people who need them. Living on less pay usually means consuming less, making more of the things one needs at home, and living lighter, whether by design or by accident.

Today, driven both by necessity and the deliberate choice to live simply, more Americans are shifting toward fewer work hours. It’s a trend that, if done correctly, could get us out of our current economic crisis and away from unsustainable economic growth.

Economists today focus solely on growth as a mechanism for job creation. But for much of the industrial age, falling hours have been roughly as important a contributor to employment as market growth.

The grueling schedules of the 19th century undermined health and prevented people from achieving what we now call quality of life. Hours of work in the United States began to decline after about 1870—from about 3,000 a year to 2,342 by 1929. In 1973 annual work hours stood at 1,887 (fewer than 40 hours per week, on average). If hours hadn’t fallen, unemployment would have grown even before the 1930s Depression.

Since the 1970s, Americans have been working longer. According to government survey data, the average working person was putting in 180 more hours of work in 2006 than he or she was in 1979. The trends are more pronounced on a household basis. Many more men are working schedules in excess of 50 hours a week. (Thirty percent of male college graduates and 20 percent of all full-time male workers are on schedules that usually exceed 50 hours.)

Not surprisingly, over the last 20 years, a large number of U.S. employees report being overworked. A 2004 study found that 44 percent of respondents were often or very often overworked, overwhelmed at their jobs, or unable to step back and process what’s going on. A third reported being chronically overworked. These overworked employees had much higher stress levels, worse physical health, higher rates of depression, and a reduced ability to take care of themselves than their less-pressured colleagues.
Doing it yourself, or self-provisioning, is now on the rise, both because of a culture shift and because in hard times, people have more time and less money.

But there are recent signs that a culture shift toward shorter hours has begun. In 1996, when I first surveyed on this issue, 19 percent of the adult population reported having made a voluntary lifestyle change during the previous five years that entailed earning less money. In a 2004 survey by the Center for a New American Dream, 48 percent did.

The stagnant economy, difficult as it is, represents an opportunity for expanding the norm of part-time work. In the first year of the recession, many businesses avoided layoffs by reducing hours through furloughs, unpaid vacations, four-day workweeks, and flex-time. By mid-2009, one study of large firms found that 20 percent had reduced hours to forestall job cuts.

Unfortunately, a lack of institutional support for short hours policies reversed many of those programs, as economist Dean Baker argued in a recent paper. Baker hypothesizes that businesses would provide an additional 1 to 2 million jobs a year if workers could collect unemployment insurance when they are on short schedules.

One thing we do know is that people who voluntarily start working less are generally pleased. In the New Dream survey, 23 percent said they were not only happier, but they didn’t miss the money. Sixty percent reported being happier, but missed the money to varying degrees. Only 10 percent regretted the change. And I’ve also found downshifters who began with a job loss or an involuntary reduction in pay or hours, but came to prefer having a wealth of time.
The Wealth We Make Ourselves

Earn less, spend less, emit and degrade less. That’s the formula. The more time a person has, the better his or her quality of life, and the easier it is to live sustainably. A study by David Rosnick and Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research estimated that if the United States were to shift to the working patterns of Western European countries, where workers spend on average 255 fewer hours per year at their jobs, energy consumption would decline about 20 percent. New research I have conducted with Kyle Knight and Gene Rosa of Washington State University, looking at all industrialized countries over the last 50 years, finds that nations with shorter working hours have considerably smaller ecological and carbon footprints.

There’s also a small but growing body of studies that examine these questions at the household scale. A French study found that, after controlling for income, households with longer working hours increased their spending on housing (buying larger homes with more appliances), transport (longer hours reduced the use of public transportation), and hotels and restaurants. A recent Swedish study found that when households reduce their working hours by 1 percent, their greenhouse gas emissions go down by 0.8 percent. One explanation is that when households spend more time earning money, they compensate in part by purchasing more goods and services, and buying them at later stages of processing (e.g., more prepared foods). People who have more time at home and less at work can engage in slower, less resource-intensive activities. They can hang their clothing on the line, rather than use an electric dryer. More important, they can switch to less energy-intensive but more time-consuming modes of transport (mass transit or carpool versus private auto, train versus airplane). They can garden and cook at home. They can meet more of their basic needs by making, fixing, doing, and providing things themselves.

Doing-it-yourself, or self-provisioning, is now on the rise, both because of a culture shift and because in hard times people have more time and less money.

In April 2009, according to a national survey, one in five Americans said they were making plans to plant a garden that year. After the recession hit, service-oriented businesses such as salons, pet groomers, and nannies experienced a decline in business as people began doing these things for themselves. An annual expo called Maker Faire that started in California has been attracting growing numbers of do-it-yourselfers and inventors. It’s spreading to new locations around the country, and attendance has reportedly quadrupled since 2006.

People are returning to lost arts practiced by earlier generations—woodworking, quilting, brewing beer, and canning and preserving. They are also hunting, fishing, and sewing. People engage in these activities because they enjoy them and they yield better-quality products or products that are not easily available. Producing artisanal jams, sauces, and smoked meats, or handmade sweaters, quilts, and clothing makes these pricey items affordable.

Self-provisioning is also getting popular in housing. For example, the movement toward straw-bale homes has taken off in the Southwest. Straw-bale construction has become prevalent enough that some localities have introduced code for it, and there are even banks that lend for these structures. People are also experimenting with the use of compressed earth bricks, poured earth, “papercrete” (which uses recycled paper and a small amount of concrete), and a variety of other materials. New Englanders have revived the colonial-era tradition of community barn-raisings, only now they’re coming together to build yurts.

As failed housing markets around the country stagnate, one can expect more real estate refugees to construct their own debt-free shelter with recycled, low-cost, or no-cost materials.

Self-provisioning is also a spur to entrepreneurial activity. Most people who practice it don’t self-provide everything. They find some productive activities they prefer, are more skilled at, or can do more easily. They trade or sell what they’re best at producing. With this specialization, self-provisioning becomes a pathway to incubating a set of small businesses that will flourish as the sustainable economy takes off.

A large-scale switch to less work and more production and self-provisioning at home will require some collective solutions. We need systems that provide basic security to all individuals and families—from childhood through old age. Access to basic needs such as education and health care must be widely affordable.

But it’s possible for many people to take small steps—right now—toward fewer job hours and more self-sufficiency. There are challenges, to be sure, but for many, the switch from paper-pushing to gardening has been welcome. Self-providers value their newfound skills, love the chance to be creative, and are getting satisfaction and security from constructing a more self-reliant lifestyle. The ability to work for oneself is highly valued. They are nourished by connection with the earth. Perhaps most important, they are rewarded by the opportunity to live without endangering others and the planet.

Juliet Schor is professor of sociology at Boston College and the author of the national bestseller The Overspent American. This article is adapted from True Wealth by Juliet Schor, reprinted by arrangement with Penguin Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. Copyright (c) Juliet Schor, 2011. It appeared in New Livelihoods, the Fall 2011 issue of YES! Magazine.