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Unions and Worker Co-ops, Old Allies, Are Joining Forces Again

In the 1800s unions and cooperatives were part of the same movement. Today once again, unions are collaborating with cooperatives to save jobs, create new ones, and organize new members.

From the early days of the labor movement, as John Curl makes clear in his excellent book For All the People: Uncovering the Hidden History of Cooperation, Cooperative Movements, and Communalism in America, union members saw cooperatives as vital to their struggle. Unions and cooperatives were part of a growing labor movement that also included myriad political parties, mutual aid societies, fraternal organizations, and secret worker associations.

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News & Blog

Concern rising over property values following Atlanta Beltline

Research|Action is working with the Housing Justice League on a report about affordable housing around the Beltline in Atlanta, to be released in September.  Here’s a one page fact sheet.

ATLANTA (CBS46) – Concern is rising over property values following Atlanta’s popular Beltline as it finishes construction in some of Atlanta’s poorest neighborhoods.  CBS46 discovered half a dozen low-income housing workers organizing Wednesday to protect neighbors in southwest Atlanta. The startling popularity of the Beltline is about to arrive in Adair Park. It’s a trail that goes both ways for some who live in the area. Benefits are welcome, but rising property values are feared.

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News & Blog

How the Atlanta Beltline broke its promise on affordable housing

NOTE: Research|Action has a report coming on this issue in a few months!

 

Five years ago, the Lofts at Reynoldstown Crossing were intended to be a bulwark against the rising housing costs that were threatening to turn the Atlanta Beltline into a boardwalk for the rich.

Developers spent $5.1 million to transform the aging warehouse in a historically black neighborhood into condos, and Atlanta Beltline Inc., the agency in charge, offered down payment assistance to middle income families to move in.

The nearby stretch of the Beltline remains months away from completion, but a man lugging moving boxes across the condo parking lot on a recent morning was a sign that these new affordable homes are already beginning to vanish. Dr. Elan Jenkins had just purchased a two-bedroom condo at the complex for $340,000, or more than double what it sold for as part of the Beltline’s affordable home program in 2012.

At that price, the condo is out of reach for three quarters of metro Atlanta, according to an analysis performed by real estate data company Zillow. Jenkins thinks it’s only a matter of time before he’s priced out, too.

“Eventually I won’t be able to even live here, probably,” said Jenkins, an Emory physician.

This is exactly what housing experts warned Beltline administrators about years ago, when experts found that their affordable housing spending could come to nothing by its planned 2030 completion unless they changed course. Along with the ribbon of parks, trails and transit, Atlanta Beltline Inc. was supposed to create at least 5,600 affordable houses and apartments — a goal so important that City Council put it into law.

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News & Blog

Research|Action Joins the New Economy Coalition

R|A is proud the join the New Economy Coalition.

The New Economy Coalition (NEC) is a network of organizations imagining and building a future where people, communities, and ecosystems thrive. Together, we are creating deep change in our economy and politics—placing power in the hands of people and uprooting legacies of harm—so that a fundamentally new system can take root.

Read announcement.

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News & Blog

Panel at ECWD2017: Renewing the Alliance: Unions and Co-ops Fight for Worker Power in NY, Cincinnati, and Beyond

At the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy, held in New York City this weekend, there was a great panel on how unions and cooperatives are increasingly working together and forming union cooperatives. From the panel description:

Under fierce attack from the corporate sector, labor unions are exploring worker co-ops as a way to organize new members, save members’ jobs, create new jobs, and build community alliances. Presenters from NYC, Cincinnati and beyond will share their unions’ experiences with these experiments. Through panels, small group discussions and networking opportunities participants will explore how the co-op business model can help to strengthen and expand our unions.

Speakers included:

  • Ellen Vera – National Manufacturing Organizing Coordinator, IUE-CWA; cofounder, Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative
  • Mary Hoyer – cochair, UnionCo-ops Council of US Federation of Worker Co-ops
  • David Hammer – ICA Group, consultants to unions on business conversions
  • Keith Joseph – 1199SEIU representative for Cooperative Home Care Associates, the U.S.’s largest worker coop
  • Arturo Archila – United Steel Workers NYC, helped launch a unionized coop
  • Roger Green, director, Bunche-DuBois Center for Public Policy Research, Medgar Evers College

The panel was sponsored by the Union Co-ops Council of the US Federation of Worker Coops, Murphy Institute for Worker Education & Labor Studies-CUNY, NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives, FPWA and 1Worker1Vote.org.

Research|Action helped plan the session and created the informational brochure on union-coops.

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News & Blog

Research|Action Cooperative Launch!

We are happy to announce the launch of Research|Action, our worker-owned cooperative of seasoned professionals who champion research and popular communication as vital and necessary to the project of social transformation.

Our goal is to help turn research into effective communication tools and action for our clients in community and labor organizations, and throughout the solidarity economy. Using surveys, government data, interviews, and strategic research sources, we highly value what both quantitative and qualitative research can teach us.

Among our staff’s previous research projects:

We have years of organizing, research, policy analysis and communications experience, all aimed at helping labor and social justice organizations build a sustainable and just world. We pride ourselves on our ability to bridge research and action by presenting our findings in clear, everyday language so it is more easily acted upon.

We invite you to visit the Research|Action website to learn more about what we can do together. Or connect for a conversation by email or phone at info@researchaction.net, 313-327-2192.  We can be found on Facebook and Twitter as well.

We look forward to working with you!

In Solidarity,

Kate Diedrick, MA, kate@researchaction.net

Eric Dirnbach, Ph.D, eric@researchaction.net

Biko Koenig, MA, biko@researchaction.net

Abby Scher, Ph.D, abby@researchaction.net

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News & Blog

Real Power? Real Money? A reflection on Participatory Budgeting in New York

On a recent evening in New York City, I met with eight other people in my City Council Member’s local office, down the block from City College in Harlem. We were the community delegates tasked with discussing over 150 projects proposed at neighborhood assemblies. Our assignment was to score the projects on the basis of community need, feasibility and impact, and bring recommendations on top priorities back to the City.

This process is known as participatory budgeting (PB) and I wanted to see how it worked. My main questions were: Is PB as currently practiced an innovative way to enhance local democratic decision-making and empowerment? Or is this token inclusion, while the real decisions are made elsewhere, as usual?

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News & Blog Publications

New Report on Food System Workers: No Piece of the Pie

No Piece of the Pie: U.S. Food Workers in 2016 finds U.S. Food Workers Lowest Paid, Highest Food Stamp Users.

This report, in partnership with the Food Chain Workers Alliance, finds $10 per hour median wage and 2.8 million workers on food stamps. To learn more and download the report, visit No Piece of the Pie.

Media coverage:

Note: this report was written by Research|Action members when they were part of the Solidarity Research Cooperative.

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News & Blog

Can the ‘new economy’ and labor movements come together again?

Activists in Oakland have been campaigning for new city policies that would assist worker cooperative development. After successfully winning passage of a city resolution in support of cooperatives last fall, they are now pushing for a new law, the Oakland Worker Cooperative Incentives for Growth Ordinance. Supporters will speak in support at the upcoming hearing at City Hall on September 27, and the ordinance is likely to pass in October. It would grant a variety of benefits for registered worker cooperatives including procurement preferences, development funding, tax incentives, streamlined permitting and promotion of business conversion to cooperatives. The Sustainable Economies Law Center, one of the key promoters of the ordinance, says that it will be the first of its kind to offer this level of assistance for cooperatives.

This campaign is one part of a vibrant, growing movement advancing community-oriented, alternative ways of economic development. This includes cooperatives and credit unions, community land trusts, municipal participatory budgeting, local renewable energy and various community organizing initiatives to build local power, all within a grassroots, intersectional and anti-oppression political framework. This kind of work is often referred to as the “new economy” or “solidarity economy.”

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News & Blog

Radio Interview: SUNY and Sweatshops

Report finds that state universities in New York are not doing enough to keep sweatshop produced material out of their stores. Eric Dirnbach, Labor Researcher for Solidarity Research Center (now Research|Action Cooperative) and one of the authors of the report, talks to KCSB reporter Nkechi Ikem about the issue.  More about the report here.

Listen to the interview.