The U.N. has dubbed 2012 the International Year of Co-operatives. In the U.S., there are roughly 30,000 co-ops comprising nearly 900,000 members. Of these co-ops, somewhere between 300 and 400 are worker co-operatives—where workers own their jobs and the business, and have the power to make decisions about where, how, and with whom to do business.
Today’s worker co-op is arguably not just your hippie grocery store.
In the Bay Area, Rainbow Grocery, Design Action Collective, Bio-Fuel Oasis, Maybeck High School, WAGES, Mandela Foods, Arizmendi Bakery, and Lusty Lady represent some of the new and not-so-new business models that value sustainable growth, social justice, community benefit—and profit.
What kinds of effects are cooperatives having regionally, nationally, and worldwide? Has the politicization of younger generations heralded the new wave of co-ops? And why is the U.N. calling 2012 as the International Year of Co-operatives?
Discussing this and more in the studio with host Lauren Meltzer are:
- John Curl, writer, historian, and member of Berkeley’s Heartwood Cooperative Woodshop. His most recent book “For All The People: Uncovering the Hidden History of Cooperation, Cooperative Movements, and Communalism in America,” to be published in an expanded second edition this summer
- Lilly Alvarez,program coordinator at WAGES--Women’s Action to Gain Economic Security
- Kasper Koczab, entrepreneur and worker, NoBAWC--Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives (“No Boss”)
- Melissa Hoover, Executive Director, U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, San Francisco