Philadelphia Story

Whilliam F Whyte
Philadelphia is the site of an innovative program, which promises to have profound effects on the future of the employee ownership movement in the United States. The program is led by a union. United Food and Commercial Workers, but that in itself is not unique. Local 46 of the same union was the precedent setter with Rath Packing Company in 1980; United Automobile Workers (UAW) Local 736 followed in 1981; establishing employee ownership for Hyatt-Clark Industries, a former General Motors plant. The pathbreaking features of the Philadelphia program are these: • Negotiation of a labor agreement with a subsidiary of A&P to reopen supermarkets that have been shut down, trading pay and benefit concessions for jobs and financial support for worker cooperatives. • Creation of the O&O Investment Fund, the first union established fund specifically designed to provide credit, technical assistance, and research and educational services to support the creation and growth of worker cooperatives. (The O&O logo stands for "owned and operated"—by the workers themselves.) • Development of a highly participative process for planning and establishing worker cooperatives through linking researchers and consultants with union leaders and workers. This places the Philadelphia experience in the context of past efforts to build worker cooperatives in the United States and abroad.
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