Co-Ops: Resources and Updates

Welcome to the USW's site for Union Co-ops

Can Unions and Cooperatives Join Forces?
An Interview With United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard

United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard talks to Truthout about the challenges and opportunities of a new labor model: the union co-op.

As the economic crisis festers for many long-term unemployed and underemployed people, the idea of worker-owned and worker-run cooperatives has become ever more appealing as a possible pathway toward an economy that works for everyone. Theorists such as Gar Alperovitz have argued for the importance of cooperatives in providing a nuts-and-bolts alternative to dominant methods of economic production: They offer an example of a different way of doing business that people can see and experience in their own lives.

As someone who loves to see organized labor on the move in any form, I am interested in the role that unions can play in promoting co-ops - and I have been excited to see the United Steelworkers take an especially proactive role in bolstering the cooperative movement. I spoke with Steelworkers President Leo Gerard about how union/co-op hybrids could change the experience of work for those who clock in every day and about the depth of vision it will take to make union co-ops a serious part of the American economy … more

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Can Union Co-ops Help Save Democracy?
By John Clay, Democratic Promise

A new wave of cooperatives is emerging in the US, and a big part of the inspiration is coming from what might seem an unlikely source: the United Steelworkers International Union (USW), which describes itself as North America's largest industrial union, with 1.2 million active and retired members.

In 2009 the USW joined with Mondragon Inc. of Spain and Kent State University's Ohio Employee-Ownership Center (OEOC) to start a discussion on bringing the successful Mondragon model of employee-owned cooperatives to the US. Mondragon was founded in 1956 and today includes some 260 enterprises, many of them cooperatives, in more than forty countries, with annual sales of 24 billion dollars. OEOC brings to the effort 25 years of institutional expertise in the development of employee-owned businesses. The collaboration with the USW was announced in the national media in 2009, and in 2012 the three organizations followed up with the release of a how-to guide called "Sustainable Jobs, Sustainable Communities: The Union Co-op Model."

Click Here to read more

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Worker Ownership for the 99% Press Conference
On March 26, 2012, the USW, Mondragon, and the Ohio Employee Ownership Center (OEOC) announced its detailed union co-op model for developing sustainable jobs using the combination of worker ownership and the collective bargaining process.  Click here to read the press release. Click here to download the union co-op model template

USW Resolution

At the 2011 USW Constitutional Convention, USW delegates passed a resolution called "Workers' Capital, Industrial Democracy and Worker Ownership" to promote worker ownership and the development of union co-ops.

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About the USW/Mondragon Collaboration:

The USW and Mondragon, the world's largest worker-owned cooperative, announced our collaboration on Oct. 27, 2009, to develop union co-ops in the United States and Canada.

USW/Mondragon Agreement
More about the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation

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Trade unions and worker cooperatives: Where are we at?

The ILO Bureau of Workers’ Activities (ACTRAV) put its latest issue of International Journal of Labour Research up on the web recently.  This issue is a collection of papers written about the relationship between Unions and Coops. Click Here

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Additional Resources

Congratulations to the workers of the New Era Windows Cooperative!
Interview With Rob Witherell: Representative, United Steelworkers (USW)
Can Co-ops Save Unions?
Why Unions Are Going Into the Co-op Business

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Co-op Websites:

Ohio Employee Ownership Center

US Federation of Worker Cooperatives

Union/Co-ops Council of the USFWC

Canadian Worker Co-op Federation

National Cooperative Business Association

National Cooperative Bank

Cooperative Fund of New England

Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund

The Cincinnati Union Coop Initiative!

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Contact Us: If you would more information or if you're interested in forming a union co-op, please click here.