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Sat Jun 2, 2012, 11:26 AM

Chicago Factory Occupiers Form Worker Cooperative

Source: TruthOut

First, they occupied the factory to get their wages from the bosses that owned the machinery. Then, they occupied their factory to keep the second bosses from shutting down their machinery. And, now, they are on their way to owning and running the machinery.

The group of workers who occupied their Chicago factory in 2008 and again in 2012 incorporated a worker-run cooperative on May 30, 2012. The factory window makers will take over was formerly owned by Republic Windows and Doors and then Serious Energy, and will now be run by New Era Windows, LLC.

Their battle to win wages and back pay from Republic Windows and Doors by occupying the factory is often mentioned in the same breath as the occupation of the Wisconsin State Capitol to protest Gov. Scott Walker's anti-union bill as a flash point of progressive struggle since the recession took hold.

Armando Robles, president of the United Electrical Workers Local 1110, said that the school of struggle the workers went through with both factory occupations helped them win the confidence to take over their factory.

Read more: http://truth-out.org/news/item/9500-republic-windows-and-doors-serious-materials-workers-form-cooperative



More at link. I hope this is the start of a trend.

36 replies, 10666 views

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Arrow 36 replies Author Time Post
Reply Chicago Factory Occupiers Form Worker Cooperative (Original post)
nxylas Jun 2012 OP
limpyhobbler Jun 2012 #1
Jackpine Radical Jun 2012 #2
patrice Jun 2012 #6
Jackpine Radical Jun 2012 #12
patrice Jun 2012 #13
patrice Jun 2012 #14
zeemike Jun 2012 #8
nxylas Jun 2012 #11
zeemike Jun 2012 #15
boppers Jun 2012 #20
Jackpine Radical Jun 2012 #21
boppers Jun 2012 #31
Jackpine Radical Jun 2012 #36
Brigid Jun 2012 #3
nxylas Jun 2012 #4
Jackpine Radical Jun 2012 #22
patrice Jun 2012 #5
shcrane71 Jun 2012 #7
Igel Jun 2012 #10
patrice Jun 2012 #17
Major Nikon Jun 2012 #18
nxylas Jun 2012 #19
Jackpine Radical Jun 2012 #23
Major Nikon Jun 2012 #28
shcrane71 Jun 2012 #27
nxylas Jun 2012 #35
HiPointDem Jun 2012 #9
humus Jun 2012 #16
Jackpine Radical Jun 2012 #24
Marrah_G Jun 2012 #25
BlueIris Jun 2012 #26
socialist_n_TN Jun 2012 #29
suffragette Jun 2012 #30
nxylas Jun 2012 #33
suffragette Jun 2012 #34
Zorra Jun 2012 #32

Response to nxylas (Original post)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 11:31 AM

1. +1

The more of this the better.

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Response to nxylas (Original post)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 11:51 AM

2. This is how I think the auto bailouts should have gone.

Let the bigshots go bankrupt & loan the money to the workers to run the companies as co-ops.

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Response to Jackpine Radical (Reply #2)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 12:07 PM

6. Who best to trust with the life of an economic enterprise than those who do the WORK of that entrpse

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Response to patrice (Reply #6)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 04:32 PM

12. Here's something I wrote a while ago on how to structure a worker-owned business:

The workplace has proved itself incapable of providing adequate health care and retirement plans for its workers. This is particularly the case with small and start-up companies, who lack the advantage of large employee pools. The result is a damping of creativity in the marketplace. People are less likely to engage in risk-taking and innovation when they must sacrifice access to adequate health care and retirement financing in order to do so.

Thus universal health care and a fully funded government retirement system would result in the creation of many new small businesses in new areas such as green technology, precisely where they will answer the emerging needs of society. I believe this system has the potential to stimulate what is best about the profit motive while eliminating some of the worst problems of the current system.

A model for a company in the coming age:

The company will be worker-owned. You will earn increasing shares in the company as a function of the number of years you are employed in that company. If you leave the company for any reason, you may hold your shares until your death. However, when you die, the company will give your estate a fair cash settlement for your share and the remaining workers will retain ownership of the company. This is necessary in order to keep ownership from spreading out among people who have no vital interest in the company.

Not all workers will have an equal share in the company. For example, it would be expected that the entrepreneur who starts the company will retain a larger share of ownership than the other employees. Also, shares in the company may be differentially assigned on the basis of the type of work done. Each worker will receive wages or salary commensurate with their job responsibilities, and in addition each will receive a share of the profits commensurate with the number of shares they hold. Thus every worker will have a stake in making the company more profitable in the long run.

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Response to Jackpine Radical (Reply #12)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 05:14 PM

13. That's along the lines that I have been thinking . . . with an addition relative to some way to

identify what shares each worker has in the company, in addition to longevity. This would be something along the lines of an evergreen collaborative process to identify and define "value added" and assign ownership. I would like to think about this sort of thing, because of my own and others' experiences having to do with one's work being taken by a corporate entity, work that quite likely few if any other person could/would have performed at the level, quantity, and quality that a specific individual did, and yet the value of that work is taken and the person who did it is considered expendable. My experiences were in education and in IT, so perhaps you can infer some of the things I'm referring to here, but I think the model has relevance outside of those fields.

Think of the sorts of things that corporate entities currently do with suggestion and quality improvement processes, in which ideas for improvement are vetted, applied if found worthy, and rewarded to some extent, with ownership still retained by the corporation. My thinking is that the workers should engage in ongoing quantitative and qualitative research of that type and retain ownership for their own ideas that are regularly re-assessed for relevance and development and integrated with new R&D.

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Response to patrice (Reply #13)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 05:17 PM

14. Perhaps you can see that I think individual workers should consider their own labor as their own

personal capital, an idea that is found in The Wealth of Nations, chapter 1, when Adam Smith defines Real Value as work, without which there are no economic relationships.

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Response to Jackpine Radical (Reply #2)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 01:53 PM

8. Me too.

And I think the new business model should be equal stake in the company for all...no bosses and decisions are made by the vote...
I saw one like that on some program a while beck...they had no management..every one knew his job and did it...and could do other jobs as necessary to produce the product...

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Response to zeemike (Reply #8)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 02:45 PM

11. Was that the Mondragon co-op?

The seventh largest company in Spain and currently working with United Steelworkers to create a union co-op model in the States:

http://assets.usw.org/our-union/coops/The-Union-Co-op-Model-March-26-2012.pdf

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Response to nxylas (Reply #11)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 05:36 PM

15. No this was a US company that made robotic equipment.

don't remember all the details but there looked to be about 30 or 40 people that worked there.

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Response to Jackpine Radical (Reply #2)

Sun Jun 3, 2012, 05:53 AM

20. Who does their IT? Their "expert" skills?

How does an engineer with $200,000 in college loans fit into the worker/exploiter model?

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Response to boppers (Reply #20)

Sun Jun 3, 2012, 07:44 AM

21. There are a lot of ways that could be handled.

Hiring the engineer as a contractor, evolving a sane society with free education k-16, etc. Or, in the meantime, just paying them the same wage they would get elsewhere. I never suggested all wages have to be equal.

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Response to Jackpine Radical (Reply #21)

Sun Jun 3, 2012, 06:21 PM

31. So, if contractors, not part of the workforce, no ownership?

I've almost always been in a middle tier, not quite labor, not quite owner, and conventional worker/owner paradigms often seem to ignore the many layers and levels between unskilled factory labor and unskilled CEO.

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Response to boppers (Reply #31)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 11:07 AM

36. These questions would need to be worked out, of course, but they are at a level of detail

that would need some careful thinking, and would probably vary from one situation to another.

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Response to nxylas (Original post)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 12:01 PM

3. I, too, hope this will become a trend.

If we are going to take back our economy from the fat cats and make it work for us, this is how we will do it.

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Response to Brigid (Reply #3)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 12:04 PM

4. One factory at a time

I wonder if this would work in other industries besides manufacturing. Could a worker-owned TV network be the answer to corporate bias in the media, for example? Actually, probably not, since it would still need to attract advertisers.

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Response to nxylas (Reply #4)

Sun Jun 3, 2012, 07:47 AM

22. There's room for a lot of creativity here.

And remember that online news delivery could be a lot cheaper than the conventional systems. In the past, news organizations always maintained a firewall between the news desk & the business office. Just revert to that mode.; if you have the viewers, the advertisers will come.

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Response to nxylas (Original post)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 12:05 PM

5. YES! Let the workers agree amongst themselves what "value" is!!! Solidarity, UEW Local 1110!!!

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Response to nxylas (Original post)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 01:32 PM

7. I dunno how they can stay in business without a CEO making 200 times more than

the lowest paid worker, but hey, good for them.

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Response to shcrane71 (Reply #7)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 02:05 PM

10. They're not in business.

They raising money to be able to go into business.

They hope to be up and running, per the OP, in 2-3 months. We should check back in 3-4 months instead of assuming that it's up and running successfully.

Some coops work well. Some die a quick and painless death. Some work but things aren't much better--or much worse--than before. Often what happens is that faced with the same nasty choices their employers were faced with they voluntarily do what they'd have rejected doing if asked or told.

Once on an academic committee we students demanded a vote that counted. The chair said we were fools. We could be as polemical and rebellious as we wanted. We had a right to speak and could advocate irresponsibility. Once we had the right to have an actual say in how things went, we'd bear responsibility. Then we couldn't say others screwed up. We'd have to say that we took steps to screw things up.

We got the vote. And the next meeting one guy spoke as he had before. He was asked what would happen under various scenarios, and was quickly backed into a corner: He was supporting something that would probably hurt a lot of students if any of a dozen assumptions were wrong. He voted safely, to hurt a few students now. Nothing kills a revolution like the wielding of power: Wield it responsibly, and the revolution's goals are truncated; wield it irresponsibly, and things usually spin out of control.

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Response to Igel (Reply #10)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 10:32 PM

17. Truncation does not necessarily have to result in termination, does it. Of course, it depends upon

specific factors, but if there is a realistic willingness to do some strategic conditional prioritizing, develop a self-knowledge base (both quantitative and qualitative knowledge), and revisit and adapt action plans . . . all very generally hypothetical, I know, so there probably are realistic reasons, but my personal experience is that many situations are limited by certain things BEFORE anyone tries to do the hard detailed work of reconciling and integrating the differences.

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Response to Igel (Reply #10)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 10:43 PM

18. I've always believed that workers will screw themselves over far more than management can

All you have to do is allow them to be masters of their own destiny to the maximum extent possible.

Early in my management career I was tasked a couple of times with moving into a disfunctional unit with the task of making them functional again. Basically what I did was delegate much of my job to the employees themselves. I let them distribute their own work assignments, write their own work schedules, set their own start and stop times, work out their own leave schedules, and several other things. Pretty much the only instruction I gave them is that they had to improve their metrics and not increase costs or things had to go back to the way they were. Some of the same people who had been complaining the loudest about their work assignments voluntarily took on even more workload. My overtime costs plummetted, people started getting along, and the work improved dramatically. As a manager, I've found the more you try to control people, the less control you will have over them.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #18)

Sun Jun 3, 2012, 03:37 AM

19. I don't see voluntarily taking on more work as screwing themselves over

Contrary to what Randroids think, the workers are not just out to do as little work as possible and grab their paycheck (they must be confusing them with capitalists). People gladly work hard when they feel that they are in control of their work and that they own their jobs.

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Response to nxylas (Reply #19)

Sun Jun 3, 2012, 07:50 AM

23. Randroids are the models for the projection defense mechanism.

Not to mention denial and suppression.

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Response to nxylas (Reply #19)

Sun Jun 3, 2012, 11:31 AM

28. I don't either

It's really more of a tongue in cheek statement working on the assumption that the company has a vested interest in screwing employees by making them produce more with less resources. I've always felt that people are productive by nature, and that the job of management should simply be to foster that natural inclination and provide correction only when necessary.

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Response to Igel (Reply #10)

Sun Jun 3, 2012, 09:32 AM

27. I'd love to see the day when a Co-op becomes too big to fail.

I've watched a documentary about a factory in Argentina that was taken over by the workers. It was running a profit. I agree that the whole thing could go to hell if the people run the co-op into the ground.

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Response to shcrane71 (Reply #27)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 02:06 AM

35. The Co-Operative here in the UK is getting there

The Co-Operative Retail Society, ususally known as just The Co-Operative or The Co-Op is a major player here, There are Co-Op grocery stores, a Co-Op bank, Co-Op pharmacies, travel agencies, funeral parlors and so on.

http://www.co-operative.coop/

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Response to nxylas (Original post)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 02:04 PM

9. "Armando Robles, president of the United Electrical Workers Local 1110"

 

UE: practically the only union left that actually fights the bosses instead of playing the concessions game.

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Response to nxylas (Original post)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 10:26 PM

16. A Hundred Years of Servitude

"If one man has a dollar he didn't work for, some other man worked for a dollar he didn't get."[69] While Haywood respected the work of Marx, he referred to it with irreverent humor. Acknowledging his scars from dangerous mining work, and from numerous fistfights with police and militia, he liked to say, "I've never read Marx's Capital, but I have the marks of capital all over me."[70]

--
In 1912, Haywood spoke at a convention for the Brotherhood of Timber Workers in Louisiana; at the time, interracial meetings in the state were illegal.[3] Haywood insisted that the white workers invite the African American workers to their convention, declaring:

You work in the same mills together. Sometimes a black man and a white man chop down the same tree together. You are meeting in a convention now to discuss the conditions under which you labor. Why not be sensible about this and call the Negroes into the Convention? If it is against the law, this is one time when the law should be broken.[3]

Ignoring the law against interracial meetings, the convention invited the African American workers. The convention would eventually vote to affiliate with the IWW.[3]

--

Labor produces all wealth; all wealth belongs to the producer thereof

-
However, Haywood and the IWW were not yet finished in Lawrence; despite the end of the strike, Ettor and Giovannitti remained in prison. Haywood threatened the authorities with another strike, saying "Open the jail gates or we will close the mill gates." Legal efforts and a one-day strike on September 30 did not prompt the authorities to drop the charges. However, on November 26, Ettor and Giovannitti were acquitted.

---

The mine owners "did not find the gold, they did not mine the gold, they did not mill the gold, but by some weird alchemy all the gold belonged to them!"[4]





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Response to humus (Reply #16)

Sun Jun 3, 2012, 07:55 AM

24. Thanks for this contribution.

And welcome to DU.

A couple of things I'd like to mention:

First, there's a Democratic Socialists forum around here that you may want to check out. I think you'd find it interesting.

And second, people like to have links to anything you quote, if possible.

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Response to nxylas (Original post)

Sun Jun 3, 2012, 08:35 AM

25. This is really great news.

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Response to nxylas (Original post)

Sun Jun 3, 2012, 08:55 AM

26. Progress.

Occupy is solidifying into useful vehicles for change.

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Response to nxylas (Original post)

Sun Jun 3, 2012, 12:11 PM

29. OOPS! This won't do.............

The owners are the MOST horrified when the workers show that they can get along without them. That REALLY pisses them off.

I have a feeling there will be reprecussions if this comes off.

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Response to nxylas (Original post)

Sun Jun 3, 2012, 12:19 PM

30. Reminds me of Naomi Klein's "the Take." Also, 2012 is the UN International Year of Cooperatives

The website for the film also includes background and historical info as well as related news such as micro loans for co-ops
http://www.thetake.org/index.cfm?page_name=synopsis


Must-read Ebert's review of "The Take." Tis a thing of beauty.
http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050217/REVIEWS/50204002/1023




The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, highlighting the contribution of cooperatives to socio-economic development, particularly their impact on poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration. Much more at link:
http://social.un.org/coopsyear/about-iyc.html

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Response to suffragette (Reply #30)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 01:35 AM

33. Love the last paragraph of Ebert's review

The comment about Wal-Mart workers made me LOL.

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Response to nxylas (Reply #33)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 02:04 AM

34. It's great when he gets feisty

That review does resonate, doesn't it?

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Response to nxylas (Original post)

Sun Jun 3, 2012, 11:14 PM

32. Eventually we will do this as we become the government. nt

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