On June 13 and 14 in Washington, DC, many of the nation’s leading experts in employee ownership, sustainable business and finance, community and economic development, and philanthropy came together in a Learning + Design session. Co-hosts for the meeting were Marjorie Kelly and Jessica Bonanno of The Democracy Collaborative and Camille Kerr of Democracy at Work Institute. The purpose of the session was to discuss how to achieve unprecedented scale of employee ownership by focusing on achieving an audacious goal: 50 million U.S. employee-owners by 2050.
At age 60, when many of her friends are considering retirement, Josefina Luna is chair of the board of CERO Cooperative Inc. CERO is a five-member worker-owned cooperative on a mission to encourage composting and create jobs in the hard-up Boston neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, and East Boston. It's a small but unusually diverse team: Of the five worker-owners, two are African-American, two are Latinas, and one is white. They communicate in English and Spanish.
This is an exciting time to be engaged with worker cooperatives. The worker cooperative model has stood the test of time; its foundations have been in place since 1844, when the Rochdale Pioneers developed their creative response to the suffering of displaced workers during the Industrial Revolution. Since 2008, the Great Recession has inspired more and more workers, advocates, and community developers to bring their creativity and energy to the next generation of the cooperative movement, fueling an explosion of co-op-related discussion and initiatives.