In honor of May Day, we're celebrating a few of our many incredible members working for fairer, sustainable, and democratic workplaces.
Labor Network for Sustainability
“A lot of people are going to be put back to work, a lot of coal miners are going back to work," said President Donald Trump at a rally in Louisville, Kentucky last week before announcing plans to roll back coal regulations put in place under the Obama administration. The argument that environmental regulations work against the interests of workers and the economy is a familiar one, but not necessarily true.
This “jobs vs. the environment” dichotomy is exactly what the Labor Network for Sustainability (LNS) is working to combat. They advocate for a just transition strategy that tackles the issues of jobs and climate simultaneously.
At the policy level, LNS works with members of the environmental movement to advocate for just transition and reach impacted workers in industries like coal and oil to debunk narratives like Climate Change: A Dagger Pointed at Your Job.
Recently, LNS released a brief critiquing the Trump administration's energy policies and highlighting ways the environmental movement can bring quality jobs into the economy.
Read the brief and learn more about how the labor movement and environmentalists can unite.
Buffalo, NY– like a number of rust belt cities– is dealing with high-povery and under-employment rates. In 2014, 26.4 percent of all families lived in poverty and 160,000 jobs in the city that paid less than $23,000 dollars a year.
In an effort to develop more living-wage jobs, Cooperation Buffalo was built. As a co-op incubator, they aim to develop democratic control of the workplace and civic engagement rather than depend on high-end industries moving into their city.
According to their website: "Through a combination of popular education, business training, business incubation, and ecosystem development, Cooperation Buffalo’s programs facilitate the growth of worker-owned small businesses that provide living wage jobs, generate wealth and power, and cultivate leadership in Buffalo’s low-income communities."
In addition to incubating Buffalo co-ops, Cooperation Buffalo has worked with the Buffalo City Council to craft two resolutions: one in support of worker cooperatives and one in support of participatory budgeting. They have also advocated for statewide legislation supporting the advancement of worker cooperatives.
The Working World
In the early 2000’s, Argentina’s recession had closed the doors of countless small businesses across the country. Left without jobs, workers decided to take matters into their own hands and reopen businesses as cooperatives. What they lacked was funding— small businesses struggle to get reasonable rates to begin with but many wouldn’t even consider lending to co-ops.
This is the environment that brought about The Working World (TWW).Co-founded by Brendan Martin and Avi Lewis, TWW is a loan-fund that practices an alternative to traditional “extractive finance” by investing solely in worker-owned co-ops and providing loans that don’t require collateral or go into repayment until the co-op makes a profit.
After it’s success in Argentina, TWW expanded and has helped fund and launch a number of worker-owned co-ops in the US. Read about their work in Post- Hurricane Sandy New York here.
Whether the issue is working conditions, pay increases, or hidden contractual clauses— employees with ideas to improve their workplaces often face an uphill battle of organizing, unionizing, and fighting management. A daunting task, to be sure.
Coworker.org leverages the power of networks and technology to make those campaigns easier. Coworker.org allows employees to start and campaigns via petitions and has been used to win workplace battles from small-town businesses, to national corporations like Starbucks and Uber.
They even got a shout out from President Obama at the White House Summit on Worker Voice in 2015: "Workers are organizing online at sites like Coworker.org to fight for new protections…We've got to find new ways that they can express solidarity. And that's where technology can help.”
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