December 29, 2015

All about cooperatives

TESA Collective  Cooperatives are businesses and organizations democratically owned and managed by the people they serve. They come in many shapes and sizes: from a handful of people to thousands upon thousands of members. Some are owned and run by workers, others are owned and governed by consumers, still others are for producers (like farmers and artists). But no matter what, cooperatives always have the same foundation: one member, one share, one vote.

Recently, we at The Toolbox for Education and Social Action (TESA) (a worker co-op) launched a new poster series to highlight and celebrate the power of the cooperative movement. Below, we’re sharing each of the posters while also going further into depth about how co-ops build stronger communities, a new economy, and a better world.

Their impact has been so widespread and significant that more businesses are electing to transition into cooperatives. Like the Island Employee Cooperative in rural Maine, where the retiring owners decided to sell their businesses to their employees, rather than an outside investor who would surely have made lay-offs and service cut-backs. Since buying out their jobs, the retail workers at IEC have increased their pay, acquired benefits, shared in the business’s profits, and even brought the local community college system into their stores to help teach the new owners (the employees!) practical business skills. All of these things are rare in the retail world for workers, but it’s possible at the IEC in Deer Isle, Maine, thanks to the cooperative model.

And in Chicago, when window factory employees had their jobs ripped away from them not once but twice, they decided to found their own business. And so New Era Windows was born, where no workers could be fired simply because the bosses wanted to save money.

Entire communities – cities, towns, and regions. Cooperatives in Madison, WI have a strong history of working together to make it easier for more people to start co-ops as well as to improve the situation of their other fellow co-ops in the city. More efforts like these have sprung up around the country – like with the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance.


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