Worker Owned Cooperatives: Path to Economic Justice for NM Cities

Evergreen Collectives, a Cleveland-based umbrella organization has created worker owned companies doing solar installations, green commercial laundry for hospitals, and a large scale urban farm…and is being replicated elsewhere in the US. Also, info on a new federal jobs initiative that makes sense.

Donate Button with Credit CardsDonate to Retake Today!  Our goal for March was to raise $4000 this month and we are getting close. At that point we’ll be out of the hole and can lighten up on the asks. But please consider a donation today. Any amount will help and if you go low and make it a monthly that would really be great. And thank you!

One-Hour Live Retake Our Democracy, March 24, TODAY 11am-noon, KSFR 101.1 FM with Paul, Roxanne, Mayor Webber, Sen. Peter Wirth and former Sen. Dede Feldman.  For Pledge Week, Roxanne and I will be talking about new directions for Retake with clips from Sen. Wirth, Mayor Webber and former Sen. Feldman interspersed. For the first 15 listeners pledging a $100 donation, you can attend a private reception on Apr. 3 from 5-7pm at our house with Sen. Wirth, Councilor Romero Wirth and Mayor Webber.  Wine and finger food will be served. At the point that we fill all 15 slots, we will open two more spots to the highest bidders. At the reception, we will mingle for a bit and then ask our elected officials to take questions. So, Saturday at 11am, be the first to call 428-1393 and make your pledge.

Journey Santa Fe, Sunday March 25, 11am at Collected Works, 202 Galisteo. Tomás Rivera, Chainbreaker, Mayor Alan Webber and Paul Gibson will discuss a range of strategies to address our City’s need for affordable housing, improved public transit, addressing food deserts in the south and west sides of town, and other pressing challenges. There will be ample time for Q&A.

Bill McCamley for State Auditor. He has been one of the most transparent and authentic legislators in the Roundhouse and now he wants to protect our state from fraud and misuse of resources. Come find out more about Rep. McCamley and why Roxanne and I so enthusiastically support him. This is a statewide race, so in addition to being asked to contribute, you will find out information on how you can canvass, phone bank and GOTV. Go Bill.
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 A Path to a Progressive PRC.  Save the Date.  April 9, 5:30-7pm. Site TBD. A reception and Q&A with Janene Yazzie and Steve Fischmann, two very eco-friendly candidates for PRC Commissioner who are running against two of our least favorite Commissioners: Sandy Jones and Linda Lovejoy.  Aside from the Governor’s race, this may be the most important race in NM. Come and find out why and how you can help.

Network of Community Food Gardens & Food Distribution System:  Why Not?

On Thursday, we described how Cleveland is using city-owned vacant lots to develop large-scale community gardens and a food distribution system to address the lack of healthy food options in low-income communities. We have a similar challenge in Santa Fe and while I am told that there are community gardens in Santa Fe, two in the southside, I am not aware of a coordinated system for making this food available in South and Westside neighborhoods. Retake is willing to investigate how this could be done, but a small group of volunteers is needed to work with community organizations to make it happen. Any takers?  Imagine, you like to garden, you volunteer to convene folks, you identify an organization to take a lead, and with help from Retake you recruit volunteers, replicate a model tested elsewhere and in three years, tons of healthy food is being distributed at mini markets located throughout the West and Southside. Send me a note if you want to explore this: paul@retakeourdemocracy.org. These things just don’t happen without someone stepping up.

Worker-Owned Collaboratives in Cleveland & Rochester: A Model of Small Business Development

Cleveland’s Evergreen Cooperative is located in Greater University Circle, a neighborhood with a median household income below $18,500. Evergreen teamed with several nearby anchor institutions — The Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals — to boost entrepreneurship for locals. The effort led to the creation of worker-owned businesses such as a laundry service for medical bed linens, a solar energy installation company and a large-scale urban farm, as well as growth in the healthcare industry and development in the neighborhood itself. Click here for more on this worker-owned business model.

Rochester: Inspired by Cleveland’s Evergreen Collectives, Rochester sent a delegation to Cleveland, obtained a $100K grant from Cleveland and developed a worker collective model for Rochester. From Next City:  “It’s about being able to give employees an opportunity to have ownership and to build wealth within their own communities,” says Warren. The plan consists of supporting the creation or growth of cooperatively owned businesses located primarily in the city’s most distressed neighborhoods, collectively known as the Northern Crescent. Click here to read more about something that worked in Cleveland, is working in Rochester, and could be replicated here.

A National Initiative for Economic Justice

The Nation Magazine just published a report on a new initiative sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand that would guarantee every American a job with funding for the initiative coming from a 5% increase in income taxes on those earning over $200,000 a year. Modelled after programs in South Korea, India and Venezuela, Hildebrand comments, the concept has broad support in the US (left). “Guaranteed jobs programs, creating floors for wages and benefits, and expanding the right to collectively bargain are exactly the type of roles that government must take to shift power back to workers and our communities,” she said. “Corporate interests have controlled the agenda in Washington for decades so we can’t tinker at the margins and expect to rebuild the middle class and stamp out inequality. We need to get back to an economy that rewards workers, not just shareholder value and CEO pay.”  Click here for more.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

Our pal, MaryAnn Shaening questioned whether I could discipline myself to stick to 1000 words:  Today = 998 😉

4 thoughts on “Worker Owned Cooperatives: Path to Economic Justice for NM Cities

  1. I am convinced that cooperatives and worker-owned enterprises are key to escaping the increasingly dystopian form of capitalist society we inhabit. I would like to see Retake give this issue the focus it deserves. Would it not be possible to develop a political and legislative agenda around the idea of worker ownership? I believe worker ownership can form the basis for a powerful form of economic populism. The legislative agenda would create favorable tax and financial structures to promote the growth of worker ownership in recognition of its important social benefits.

    • FYI–there is a group of us in Albuquerque working with the Cleveland model creators to create worker-owned coops and perhaps affordable housing cooperatives here in NM. We will be announcing some specific initiatives in the next month or so. One of the persons spearheading this is Eric Griego.
      There is also an ongoing effort in forming local cooperative businesses in northern NM spearheaded by Arturo Sandoval.

      • I am very glad to hear this. I will get in touch with Eric to follow up and get more details. I think there could be a group of us who would want to find out more about what is going on and perhaps visit those organizing this. Great stuff.

  2. Regarding Kirsten Gillibrand’s proposal: There may be some merit to these ideas, but she should probably have chosen some other countries to use as models. It is hard to imagine two countries with less desirable economic models than India or Venezuela. In spite of tremendous human capital (as demonstrated by the almost universal success of Indian ex-pats around the world) India’s economy has has failed in seventy years of social engineering experiments since independence to bring more than a tiny minority of its citizens out of poverty. See

    https://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21734454-should-worry-both-government-and-companies-india-has-hole-where-its-middle-class-should-be

    And Venezuela under Chavez then Maduro as an economic model – seriously??? A country from which a mass exodus of its desperate citizens is threatening to overwhelm its neighbors??? See

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/world/wp/2018/03/02/feature/i-cant-go-back-venezuelans-are-fleeing-their-crisis-torn-country-en-masse/?utm_term=.a0fab3e788e6

    Finally, the South Korean program proposed by Moon Jae-in has yet to be implemented. As such, whether it will produce overall positive outcomes remains to be seen.

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