Worker cooperatives: jobs for New York City’s future

The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA) is pleased to announce a half day conference,WORKER COOPERATIVES: JOBS FOR NEW YORK CITY’S FUTURE, on January 30th, 2014. Worker cooperatives are businesses that are owned by the workers and that have participatory management. FPWA seeks the attendance of government policy makers, workforce development officials, academics from leading NYC institutions, union representatives, and community-level and grassroots organizations to discuss the worker cooperative model and how workplace democracy can address the continuing economic crisis, income disparity and poverty in New York City. We intend to engage in a dialogue with those in attendance to raise awareness of worker cooperatives, to propose specific policy solutions to foster their widespread growth and be hopeful about the future of an overall solidarity economy in New York City.


Half Day Conference Agenda

Welcoming Remarks 
Jennifer Jones Austin, Executive Director, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies

Opening Address
Steven Greenhouse, New York Times Labor and Workplace Correspondent


Penny Lewis, Assistant Professor of Labor Studies at the Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education, City University of New York

Defining the Problem
Noah Franklin, Senior Policy Analyst, FPWA will present a policy paper framing the issue of the continuing economic crisis, the current landscape of worker cooperatives in New York City, and how worker cooperatives can help address issues such as income disparity and achieving a sustainable livelihood.

Panel 1- Worker Cooperatives and Economic Justice

Worker cooperatives have the potential to become a powerful force for building social and economic justice. Speakers from New Economy Project, Make the Road New York, Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union, and Solidarity NYC will provide insights on the potentials that exist to partner to organize low-income and working communities.

Panel 2- State of Worker Cooperatives in New York City

Representatives from the City’s worker cooperative developers- Green Worker Cooperative and Center for Family Life- as well as worker cooperatives owners themselves- Caracol Interpreters Cooperative- will speak about what it means to develop and sustain a worker cooperative in New York City, what challenges they face today, and what benefits the model brings to those who participate.

Panel 3- Technical Assistance for Worker Cooperatives 
Speakers include officials from Urban Justice Center, The Working World, US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, and CUNY Law School will discuss technical assistance (business consultation, legal advice, finance, incubation, etc.) to worker cooperatives and the current gaps that exist that limit effectiveness. Key points will emphasize lack of funding, assistance, government support, among other improvements needed.

Panel 4- Closing Remarks: Where Do We Go from Here? The future of worker cooperatives in NYC
Chris Michael, Founding Director, NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives, will discuss what the future of worker cooperatives in NYC may look like if key reforms are pushed through the City government to help encourage their creation and prosperity.

*Speakers list still formation.

Highlights Include:
• Find out specific details as to how worker cooperatives have helped other cities and countries’ economies and how they can help address the current economic crisis in NYC.
• Hear from academics, officials, and representatives of various areas of the City’s workforce support system on the current landscape of worker cooperatives in NYC.
• Be informed of recommendations that the new mayoral administration could implement for administrative, policy, systems- improvements


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