Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Worker coops meet at Berkeley

A shadow is hanging over America, the shadow of a wrecked economic system. Tens of millions of unemployed remain despondent about ever finding a job again, an entire young generation despairing of any hope for a good life, while corporate market pundits pontificate that our system creates the best of all societies, and no alternative is possible. A nationwide group gathering in Berkeley this coming weekend is putting the lie to the pundits.

The U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC), is holding its biannual conference at the Clark Kerr Center at UC August 6-8, riding an exhilarating wave of a movement that has swelled to worldwide importance over the past decade. The United Nations has recognized and encouraged this growth, and has asked all governments to form a partnership with the cooperative movement to solve the global problems of unemployment and poverty, problems that the current economic system is not structured to solve, and that are poised to engulf the world in disasters of enormous magnitudes. The UN has declared 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives.

All around us numerous people search anxiously for a job, while numerous storefronts and workspaces lie empty. What stands in the way of these two vast resources coming together to create new businesses and jobs on a large scale? The dominant economic system controls the resources to make that happen, but full employment and economic equity were never goals of the capitalist system. On the other hand, those goals mesh well with the cooperative movement. However, while numerous unemployed people would happily take a job as co-owner of a cooperative business, there are comparatively few cooperative jobs and businesses. At the precise moment that a great influx of resources is needed, funding sources are cut back. One focus of the conference is to examine different strategies for cooperative development, creating mechanisms to organize and finance the movement, and ultimately to fulfill its mission.
- John Curl

Worker Co-ops Descend on Berkeley (Berkeley Daily Planet)


U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives

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