Please join us for a Meet Up with Niki Okuk on the Worker Cooperatives Business Model

I wanted to let you know about our meetup. Wednesday September 27th at 7 PM
at Father’s Office 3229 Helms Ave Culver City CA 90034

We will be discussing a new business model: worker cooperatives.
Our guest speaker is Niki Okuk:

Here is the link to her TED Talk now on the national site

Another economic reality is possible — one that values community, sustainability and resiliency instead of profit by any means necessary. Niki Okuk shares her case for cooperative economics and a vision for how working-class people can organize and own the businesses they work for, making decisions for themselves and enjoying the fruits of their labor.

This talk was presented to a local audience at TEDxCrenshaw, an independent event. TED editors featured it among our selections on the home page.

Join worker cooperators in Cuba this November!

We’re headed to Cuba!

The US Federation of Worker Cooperatives and Democracy at Work Institute are partnering with ethical travel company AltruVistas to provide a six-day exchange between Cuban and U.S. cooperative leaders from Monday November 27 through Saturday December 2, 2017. This is an amazing opportunity to discover the Cuban cooperative movement alongside your peers from Cuba and the U.S. while fully immersed in the rich culture and arts of Cuba.

We aim to notify applicants by September 25th. Preference will be given to applications submitted by September 20th.

Learn more and apply for the trip here.

Learn More
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Car washers celebrate their car wash business in South Los Angeles After the owner closed the company from one day to another, 13 workers were organized and re-registered the service as a cooperative

Car washers celebrate their car wash business in South Los Angeles

The owners of the Vermont Gage Carwash celebrate the anniversary of their joint entrepreneurial initiative.PHOTO: AURELIA VENTURA / THE OPINION

After a battle to get unionized, the Vermont Gage Car Wash was one of 16 businesses that did it in 2014. But before enjoying the benefits of the union, the workers had to face a crisis.

Miguel Cruz was one of the 13 unionized workers of the car wash who already enjoyed worker protections. In 2015, the 31-year-old Mexican, who lived near work, saw one night that they were getting things out of business.

” The owner closed the business without telling us anything, ” recalls Cruz.

The next day the employees came to work and the car wash service did not open nor did the owner appear.

“We were waiting three days for answers and for our check and she told us that she had already given it to the union,” said Cruz, saying it was a lie.

02/22/17 / LOS ANGELES / Car washer Miguel Cruz joined coworkers and owners from Vermont Gage Carwash to celebrate their anniversary and their union. The celebration included music from Los Jorneros del Norte, vendors, merchandise from other local cooperatives, to celebrate the hard working spirit of this unique group of car washeros. (Photo Aurelia Ventura / La Opinion)Miguel Cruz at the Vermont Gage Carwash Anniversary Celebration (Photo: Aurelia Ventura / La Opinión)

They form a cooperative

The disappointment of losing their job, instead of cowing them, strengthened the 13 workers who decided to start the business themselves . With the help of their union United Steelworkers Local 675 and the Los Angeles Union Cooperative (LUCI) they began to raise funds.

The group registered the business again but this time as a workers’ cooperative . In this case the business is controlled by the workers who have invested some money. The profits of the business are equitable and the board of directors of the cooperative is in charge of voting in the decisions. Workers continue to benefit from their union and LUCI advises them on business development.

Union representative Manuel Ramirez said United Steelworkers Local 675 represents about 30 car wash businesses ranging from San Diego to Pasadena.

” We strive for workers to have safe drinking water, on-time breaks, overtime paid, contracts with a percentage above the minimum wage, and we also negotiate holidays and get paid for sick days that they do not use ,” Ramirez said.

Most important, in this case, is that workers now feel they have a voice and feel they are being heard, the representative added.

02/22/17 / LOS ANGELES / Vermont Gage Carwash worker owners celebrate with the community their anniversary and their union contract. The celebration included music from Los Jorneros del Norte, vendors, merchandise from other local cooperatives, to celebrate the hard working spirit of this unique group of car washeros. (Photo Aurelia Ventura / La Opinion)The 13 workers who decided to join and form a cooperative celebrate the anniversary of their business (Photo: Aurelia Ventura / La Opinión)

Happy employees

José Manuel Zúñiga, 56 and part of the group of 13 carwashers that make up the cooperative said that when he saw the strength of his colleagues to fight for the business he decided to join. Zuniga had a little fear of losing his job, but he did not lose faith.

” I am happy to be part of this group because now I know it is a very strong obligation ,” he added.

Rusty Hicks, executive director of the Los Angeles County Labor Federation (AFL-CIO), who was present at the car wash celebration said that this group of employees is a role model.

02/22/17 / LOS ANGELES / Vermont Gage Carwash worker owners celebrate with the community their anniversary and their union contract. The celebration included music from Los Jorneros del Norte, vendors, merchandise from other local cooperatives, to celebrate the hard working spirit of this unique group of car washeros. (Photo Aurelia Ventura / La Opinion)The community participated in the celebration, which included music by Los Jorneros del Norte among other attractions (Photo: Aurelia Ventura / La Opinión)

” The fight for workers to have a better life began in this same place four or five years ago and now we are back where the employees have advanced and they have shown us that if you want something done right you have to do it yourself ” , Hicks said congratulating them on having the courage to continue the business under his command.

TED Talk mentioning the work of LUCI


LUCI Member , Niki Okuk, gives a TED talk at TEDx Crenshaw October 2016.  Today it was released to the public.

Niki Okuk

Title/Occupation: Worker – Owner, LA Union Cooperative Initiative

Bio: Niki grew up in Los Angeles attending Audobon Middle School, High School in Oakland, CA, community college in San Francisco, later majoring in Economics at Columbia University in New York. After working in development with the office of Joseph Stiglitz, and working in finance in Korea and Singapore. Niki completed her MBA with Nanyang University in Singapore, including a sustainability certificate at Sloan School of Business at MIT. She has has since returned to Los Angeles to build democratic and sustainable businesses, co-founding Rco Tires, a tire recycling and manufacturing company in Compton.


Title of Talk: Business/Entrepreneurship

How does this fit in with our theme: This years TedxCrenshaw is about taking stock and getting a clear view of our community’s strengths and weaknesses. Our economy is owned by people that do not live in our communities, such as stock market investors and CEO’s of major corporations. Corporate employment pushes down wages and externalizes cost to achieve ever increasing profits.  Those profits go out of our community to share holders and CEO’s that live all around the world, robbing our local tax pool as well as impoverishing our workers.  Corporate employment is pumping wealth out of our communities.   To affect real change to the social problems in our communities, we need a fundamental shift in the business paradigm.


Quoted from TEDxCrenshaw:


Final week to support Democracy Brewing! *Secret Perk just for you!* 🍻


We’re in the homestretch of our Democracy Brewing IndieGogo campaign: Help Ferment Rebellion!

50d0cdb6-d76d-47a5-bdb0-e14d32df41e6.jpgWe’ve got a final perk for YOU, our backers!

Be one of the cool kids and get this super awesome Democracy Brewing t-shirt for making an additional gift of just $25 between now and Saturday, August 20th. Here’s the link.

Plus, we’re continuing the referral perk. If you refer a backer who gives at least $10 we’re going to throw an extra Democracy Brewing pint glass your way. (Okay, we won’t throw it, we don’t want it to break).

  • Important: to count as a referrer, you must promote our campaign with Indiegogo’s share tools while logged into your Indiegogo account.

Thank you so much for helping us get this far. Please take the extra step to help us finish strong!

In solidarity,

James Razsa & Jason Taggart
Democracy Brewing Co-Founders

Copyright © 2016 Democracy Brewing, All rights reserved.
Thank you for supporting Democracy Brewing’s IndieGogo campaign.Our mailing address is:
Democracy Brewing21 Allen St
somerville, MA 02143


NASCO Institute 2016 – Request for Proposals – Save the Date

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NASCO Institute Banquet

Save the Date: NASCO Institute 2016

Over 400 participants will converge on Ann Arbor, Michigan from November 11th through 13th, 2016 to share ideas, learn new skills, and look at issues affecting the cooperative movement worldwide.

Since 1977, NASCO’s Cooperative Education & Training Institute has been widely recognized as one of the most important training and networking opportunities available to members, directors, staff and managers of group-equity cooperatives.

The annual NASCO Institute is always a one-of-a-kind opportunity to network with hundreds of cooperative leaders and employers, to caucus about pressing issues, and to work on building an inclusive and accessible cooperative movement.

Conference registration and scholarship applications will open on September 1st. If you have any questions about NASCO Institute, please contact Morgan Crawford at

NASCO Institute Workshop

Apply to Lead a NASCO Institute Session

NASCO is inviting proposals for presentations at this year’s Institute. The deadline to submit proposals is Friday, August 19, 2016. Proposals will be evaluated on a rolling basis, so apply early! Final programming decisions will be made by the end of August.

This is a great opportunity to share your knowledge and sharpen your skills as a cooperative educator. Also, presenters are eligible for conference travel and registration compensation!

To apply, and for more information, please see our website.

Conference Theme: Cooperative Resilience

As the wealth gap continues to grow and our systems of production and consumption are increasingly revealed to be unsustainable, people around the world are building alternative structures to a degrading and dehumanizing economy.

Cooperatives are robust and resilient organizations that succeed in times of crisis. Rather than prioritizing shareholder profits, they are driven by the needs and desires of their member-owners. As they provide necessary goods and services, they can provide hope that a just and sustainable economic system rooted in democracy and solidarity is possible.

In service of their members, cooperatives provide dignified jobs and business ownership to undocumented and low-income people, create access to healthy food in communities that have been neglected by grocery corporations, keep money local by providing communities with strong financial services and access to capital, unite small farmers banding together to sell their goods at market, and drive away the predatory landlord by providing affordable resident-controlled housing.

This year’s Institute focuses on the innovative and resilient nature of cooperatives, and how these qualities are essential to adapt in a changing world as we build the next economic systems.

Ed Whitfield

Keynote: Changing the World in a World that is Changing

As we see social alienation, economic crisis, international contention, and the growing social movements in response to it all, many of us are moved to try to change the world. But, to state the obvious, the world is not just sitting there waiting for us to change it. In fact, the world is changing every day and we cannot stop it. The challenge, then, is how can we change a world that is already in motion.

In his keynote presentation, Ed Whitfield will explore how we go about changing the world for the better, recognizing the motion and counter-motion all around us. In particular, Ed will talk about how the access to tools and resources is the key to the power to direct change along the path we care about, toward a wholesome, equitable, sustainable and just world.

Ed Whitfield is a social critic, writer, and community activist who has lived in Greensboro, North Carolina since 1970. He is co-founder and co-managing director of the Fund for Democratic Communities (F4DC).

Originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, Ed’s political activism started with attending Little Rock Central High School and beginning to do anti-war work as a teenager. Ed retired after 30 years in industry before becoming involved with philanthropy. He now speaks and writes on issues of cooperatives and economic development while continuing to be interested in issues of war and peace, as well as education and social responses to racism. Ed serves on the boards of the New Economy Coalition and The Working World.

While he spends much of his time practicing bass guitar, Ed can often be found playing jazz or blues flute along with singer-songwriters and bands in Greensboro and wherever he goes in the world. He recently won the “Plays the Most Instruments” award at Greensboro’s long-running Open Mic night.



Copyright 2016, North American Students of Cooperation, All rights reserved.

The North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO) Family of associations organizes and educates affordable group equity co-ops and their members for the purpose of promoting a community oriented cooperative movement.

Our mailing address is:
330 S. Wells St
Suite 618-F
Chicago, IL 60606

Join us for the Worker Ownership Loan Fund Party on Friday!

Kick off the conference with live performances from Yosimar Reyes as well as worker-owners! There will be music, dancing, bowling, arcade games and YOU! Transportation and a light dinner will be provided.

rvolcy if you are interested.
Copyright © 2016 Democracy at Work Institute, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you have interest in our National Conference

Our mailing address is:
Democracy at Work Institute1904 Franklin St., Suite 400
Oakland, CA 94612