Worker Co-ops and the American Dream, part 3

The Industrial Revolutions and the Great Depression

The Civil War ushered in a new American époque. The economy of the nation transitioned from agricultural to industrial as the nation moved from being a producer of raw materials to also providing the finished product from those materials. While the War Between the States brought a partial resolution to the contradiction between the American experience of chattel slavery and the American values of liberty and freedom, it also began a transition within the nature of employment from independent work crews to what labor organizers in the day dubbed the new “wage slavery”.  The Civil War was as much an industrial revolution as it was about ending the practice of slavery and suppressing a political rebellion (Jacques, 1996). It marks a change not only in the broadening of rights to former slaves but marks a switch in focus from agricultural to industrial economies.

The post-Civil War period, often referred to as the Gilded Age, saw a massive growth in the industrial capacity of the United States along with mass immigration from Europe and Asia. As industry developed, the nature of the American worker underwent a transformation. Roy Jacques’ genealogy (1996) of this change details the rise of the employee and the demise of the itinerant worker. During this era, the national labor movement developed as well. The Knights of Labor saw the danger of the deskilling and reassignment of workers into categories (Leikin, 2005). They also saw the reality of industrialization. The nascent worker movement sought not to negotiate with the new class of manufacturers and owners, but to compete with them through worker-owned factories. The ideal of ownership still resonated in the nation as a key part of the American Dream, but that ideal of ownership in the urban communities switched from land ownership to corporate shares with the closing of the frontier.

The primary duality of the American Dream speaks to the materialistic and the social nature of humanity. This duality, along with the rise of the Robber Barons and American industry in the late 19th century created a third aspect of the Dream: the “do-over”. America has always been about “starting over”.  The American naturalist Henry David Thoreau (2003) wrote, “The Atlantic is a Lethean stream, in our passage over which we have had an opportunity to forget our Old World and its institutions.” The first immigrants from Europe arrived as political, religious and, to some extent, economic refuges. While many arrived with only the possessions on hand, all arrived with a fresh start in life. They controlled, promised the dream of America, their future. The drive West, one of the core causes of the American Revolution, was about the ability to find a fresh start to life, to pursue one’s happiness by hitching a wagon and moving into unknown lands. Horace Greely’s admonition to “Go West, young man and grow up with the country” rang out. Eventually, however, the West was closed much as the Commons before it. With this closing of cheap, arable land, the American Dream found new environments in the forms of home ownership and stock ownership that resonate today.

During this period, the American Dream became an international brand. New immigrants often impoverished people from Europe (as my father’s grandparents from Ireland) or political refugees from the increased militarism of Europe or religious refugees from the Pogroms of Russia sought the American Dream. The twin promises of religious tolerance and economic reward for hard work created a beacon in the darkness. There has been much history written on the failure of the United States to live up to this brand, largely beyond the scope of this study, however, it is enough to say that to ensure the blessings of the promise of America, immigrants quickly realized that the new industrial era that they would need to push their demands and make their dream occur through their own efforts.

As discussed earlier, the Knights of Labor were limited in their attempts to unite workers. While there were many successes, the power of the financiers, the new aristocracy of the United States, set against them. The lack of legal regulations of these new industries allowed collusion, conspiracy, and corruption among the ruling class (Leikin, 2005). Many of their tactics to defeat the worker-owned businesses have since become illegal. One such classic tactic was a collusion between mill owners and railway owners to refuse to ship products from Knights of Labor factories (Leikin, 2005), but it is important to understand that worker organized in this way precisely because of their belief in the American Dream and that this same energy would lead them to organize labor unions.

In many ways, the labor movement of the fin de siècle period (1880-1914) resembles the labor movement of today. Skilled craft labor unions found limited success, but mainly in areas where its leader, Samuel Gompers, could make deals (much in the manner of the strategy of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) today). Social movements by the unorganized pressed for political change such as the eight-hour day (compared to today’s $15 per hour movement), and workers might still form cooperatives to meet their needs (such as the Union Fishermen’s Cannery in Astoria, OR). The movement for an eight-hour day, the rhetoric of Eugene Debs and Samuel Gompers invoke the right of workers to enjoy the fruit of their labor. The turmoil of the labor movement after the demise of the Knights of Labor was in many ways a fight to preserve the American Dream of the Jeffersonian-Lincoln model. Debs and his industrial unionist allies sought for an end to the wage system and the formation of a cooperative economic system that would provide economic and social freedom. In 1904, Debs spoke on The Socialist Party’s Appeal: “The Socialist Party stands for a social order in which every human being in the full enjoyment of economic freedom, shall have full opportunity, in the best possible environment, to develop the best there is in him for his own good as well as the good of society at large.” (Tussey, 1972). The legal status of labor unions and cooperatives provide a key difference. The Sherman Antitrust Act was used against labor unions and cooperatives as both were seen as conspiracies to restrain trade. The Copper-Volstead Act of 1922 granted protection to co-operatives and the Wagner Act of 1926 granted protection to labor unions.

Other part of the labor movement, namely the American Federation of Labor, sought to negotiate for the worker’s share. This movement, led by Gompers, proved less threatening and largely focused on skilled workers leaving the unskilled laborers out in the cold. This competing view from the Industrial Workers of the World presented an American Dream that could be attained through diminished expectations. Through suppression by the government, the more radical labor movements lost sway and the AFL succeeded. Although the AFL still struggled against employers, the significance, for this study’s purpose is that they helped change the definition of the American Dream. By 1928, the presidential campaign of Herbert Hoover, a hero for helping the starving children of Europe after World War I, spoke of this new dream as “a chicken in every pot, a car in every garage.” Likewise, industrialist Henry Ford realized the secret to success was mass-producing a product that his employees could afford and ensured that they had a salary to do just that. This “main street moment” found a voice in the policies of the New Deal that spoke to Americans essentially telling them that they should, as their birthright, expect a better life (McEntee & Saunders, 2012)

The transition of the American worker from a journeyman itinerant laborer to an employee matched a change in the American Dream from ownership and stewardship to consumption and material possession. This process created a system of bubbles and crashes (or panics) resulting in the Great Depression. The aftermath of the economic meltdown included a revived industrial labor movement strengthened by the New Deal legislation of the Wagner Act and Second World War that destroyed industrial infrastructure and tens of millions of people leaving the industrial capabilities of Canada and the United States largely intact.

The outcome of these events was a relative détente between employers and labor that would lead to the creation of the American middle class and relative acceptance the new American Dream. The contradictions of this new American Dream created what some might call the “American Century” and were ultimately an unstable model and a dream in every sense of the word (Porter, 2010). However, it also helped to usher in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 that effectively ended the Jim Crow Era. The Dream, as fragile as it might be, expanded its reach in hope even if the reality still remained elusive. The contemporary era has brought people back to the discussion of what the American Dream really means and how it is experienced.

Next: American Dream Deferred


Jacques, R. (1996). Manufacturing the Employee. London: Sage Publications.

Leikin, S. (2005). The Practical Utopians: American Workers and the Cooperative Movement in the Guilded Age. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press.

McEntee, G. W., & Saunders, L. (2012). The Main Street Moment: Fighting Back to Save the American Dream. New York: Nation Books.

Porter, G. (2010). Work Ethic and Ethical Work: Distortions in the American Dream. Journal of Business Ethics, 96(4), 535-550.

Thoreau, H. D. (2003). Walking. Fairfield Iowa: 1st World Library-Literary Society.

Tussey, J. Y. (Ed.) (1972). Eugene V. Debs Speaks. New York: Pathfinder Press.


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Worker Co-ops and the American Dream, part 2

Foundations of the American Dream

The term, The American Dream, was coined by James Truslow Adams in 1931 in his work, The Epic of America (Adams, 1959; Gupte, 2011; Rank, Hirschl, & Foster, 2014). Adams’ coinage was, perhaps, an attempt to buck up a nation ravaged by the Great Depression. It roots, however, reach deep into the psyche of the ideology of American culture. To fully understand the American Dream and its components, one must start at the beginning of the American experience with the Declaration of Independence. This document, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, sought to encapsulate more than the grievances of the subjects of King George III, it also expressed a new world order of how a people should be governed. It established the concept of the inalienable rights of individuals to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The latter part of the promise, the “pursuit of happiness” created the spark that gives fire to the document and the Dream. These three words provide the energy of the dream. Happiness as an inalienable human right created within the new nation a promise of the possible (Gupte, 2011) and while some readings argue that the pursuit acts as a direction for government (Schlesinger, 1964), the nature of happiness, from the early days of the republic, operates as the rubric by which we measure the success of the American experiment. This argument echoes the sentiment Adam Smith’s 1759 essay Theory of Moral Sentiments “All constitutions of government, however, are valued only in proportion as they tend to promote the happiness of those who live under them. This is their sole use and end.” (cited in Ganter, 1936). The promise of happiness, on an equal footing with life and liberty, marked a departure in how governments engaged the governed. It marks the beginning of Jefferson’s concept of Americanism: limited government, freedom of religion, freedom of the press and a new form of government that favored the laborer, the pioneer and the yeoman farmer while ending the aristocratic privilege of Europe (Chinard, 1929). Americanism would be the antithesis to the aristocracy of Europe or an “economic, social and political alternative to the aristocracy (Hart, 2002). In 1800, Americanism offered an alternative to the Old World. While many contemporary peoples living in the Western Hemisphere of the Americas bristle at the habit of US residents self-reference as “Americans”, it needs to be seen in this context. When Jefferson adopted the idea of Americanism, the other countries of North America were, politically, England, France, and Spain. Likewise, the lands of the South America were politically European*. There are two obvious contradictions to this concept, of course. Jefferson and other founders of the new republic did not recognize the nations of the indigenous peoples as governments or their inhabitants as people. Likewise, the slave trade and Jefferson’s own status as an owner of slaves made mockery of the language of the Declaration of Independence; however, the culture created by the declaration would lead later generations to justify the further expansion of the definition of “human” to include non-Europeans, expand suffrage to women, and to further the concept of human rights with civil rights. The concept of Americanism ushered in a new promise to people that the method of government should be to enable the governed to reach their full potential as human beings (Adams, 1959 p 405). The Declaration underscores two core principle of the Dream: aspiration and opportunity and that “every poor man may have a home” (Lowry, 2013) and that “all” are “created equal”. The latter being that the only barrier to one’s pursuit of happiness should be the individual’s drive to succeed. The concept of property ownership extended beyond Jefferson. Although Jefferson focused on land, other founding members of the nation including John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, George Cabot and James Madison saw property ownership, profit sharing and preventing concentration of capital as essential to maintaining a democratic nation. (Blasi, Freeman, & Kruse, 2013)

While the pursuit of happiness suggests non-material aspects of life, a key part of the American Dream focuses on ownership. Jefferson, as a member for the Virginia Legislature pushed to provide each man a plot of fifty acres. With this land, a family could sustain themselves and have a stake in the nation to engage in governance. (Hart, 2002) Likewise, Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth President of the United States, ushered in the Homestead Act which provided 160 acres to those willing to move west and colonize the nation’s frontier. By 1880, the Act had provided homestead consisting of 270 million acres (Lowry, 2013, p. p. 185). Under the Jefferson-Lincoln concept, ownership of property was the key to building a strong democracy as it allowed “individual economic stability and independence which in turn enable the independent and self-sufficient landowner to participate in the governance of local affairs and to achieve the common good.”  (Hart, 2002, p. 109) Tied to this concept was also the belief of public education within the Jefferson dogma. All children would have the benefit of a basic education in order that they might have the common skills in reading, writing, math, and language required to engage in government and self-governance. This unheard of proposition (Chinard, 1929) provided an engine towards the ideal of Americanism and the promise of the American Dream. The essential aspect of American democracy rests on ownership, education, participation, and self-responsibility, which are key values and principles of the co-operative identity (“Statement on the Co-operative Identity,” 1995).

The American Dream from the beginnings of the American Revolution through the Civil War focused on the ideal of property ownership and through property ownership the ability to secure a family’s liberty and provide a voice in the governance of their lives and provide the means to achieve happiness. This foundation continues today as home ownership remains a vital aspect of American life with the goals of home ownership providing a key measure of success (Rank et al., 2014). However, the relative simple aspect of this hope and aspiration to freedom found different expressions with the advent of the Industrial Revolution in both its incarnations in which the nature of work in the United States switched from producer to employee (Jacques, 1996). The physical expression of the American Dream adjusted to meet the needs of new immigrants and a new class of citizen, the employee.

*Obviously, Jefferson’s entire concept ignored the existing nations present in North and South America prior to the arrival of Europeans. The presence of indigenous peoples and their expulsion from their territory further undercuts the values and ideals of Jefferson and others seeking democratic rule of law. I don’t want to just dismiss this because it undermines the concept of the “American Dream”. The actions of the US government especially in the treatment of non-Europeans and even non-protestant Europeans has undermined the propaganda of the “dream”.


Adams, J. T. (1959). The Epic of America. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.

Blasi, J. R., Freeman, R. B., & Kruse, D. L. (2013). The Citizen’s Share: Putting Ownership Back Into Democracy. New Haven & London: Yale University Press.

Chinard, G. (1929). Thomas Jefferson: The Apostle of Americanism. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company.

Ganter, H. L. (1936). Jefferson’s “Pursuit of Happiness” and Some Forgotten Men. The Willam and Mary Quarterly, 16(4), 27.

Gupte, S. S. (2011). The Reciprocal Reshaping of the American Dream and American Religion. (Masters), Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida.

Hart, G. (2002). Restoration of the Republic: The Jeffersonian Ideal in 21st Century America (Vol. New York): Oxford University Press.

Jacques, R. (1996). Manufacturing the Employee. London: Sage Publications.

Lowry, R. (2013). Lincoln Unbound. New York: Haper Collins.

Rank, M. R., Hirschl, T. A., & Foster, K. A. (2014). Chasing the American Dream: Understanding What Shapes Our Fortunes. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Schlesinger, A. M. (1964). The Lost Meaning of “The Pursuit of Happiness”. The William and Mary Quarterly, 21(3), 3.

Statement on the Co-operative Identity. (1995). Retrieved from

Next: The Industrial Revolutions and the Great Depression

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Worker Co-ops and The American Dream, part 1

The American Dream

The logic of collective action suggests that workers, acting in their self-interest, should work together to achieve greater wealth. This materialistic concept establishes the role of labor unions towards helping workers gain a “piece of the pie” of the wealth that they create. The synergy of labor unions and worker owned enterprises offers a promise of greater control over one’s economic life and pathways for development of one’s social life as well. While the logic may exist for this union, it requires something more. The American worker has, historically, been disorganized. As Selig Perlman pointed out in his 1928 treatise, The Theory of The Labor Movement (Perlman, 1970), the American worker lacks the class consciousness of other industrialized nations as a  result of the general public education available to them and the relative ability to buy property as U.S. citizens. Workers in the US have significant freedom of movement and can thus express the option of leaving for greener pastures instead of fighting to change the employment conditions where they are—the country exits precisely because of this ideology (Hirschman, 1970). The National Labor Relations Act specifically creates a “hire-at-will” environment that allows workers the right to leave a job without notice. Further through political campaigns and the civil rights movement, many of the worst labor practices have become illegal. To understand the value of the union-co-op model, one must transcend the materialist logic of collective action and consider the power of myth within the American experience.

The term “American Dream” has become ubiquitous in the discourse of politics and social organization in the United States. A cursory search on Google on the term produces over twenty six million results and over 1,700,000 results on[1] It has, in political discourse, become the primary metric for politicians and political pundits to measure the efficacy of a policy proposal (Fisher, 1973; Rowland & Jones, 2007). Defining the “American Dream” however, proves difficult and many who use the term do so without the context of how they define it. This allows, of course, competing political ideologies to claim that the opposing view threatens the American Dream. Recent research, based on thousands of interviews, suggests three key components of the American Dream (Rank, Hirschl, & Foster, 2014):

  1. Freedom to pursue one’s passions and to reach one’s potential as a human.
  2. Economic security with a caveat that “hard work” should ensure that economic security.
  3. Hope, confidence, and optimism that progress will occur in one’s life and the life of future generations.

One can argue that the American Dream combines two dichotomous myths (DeSantis, 2009; Fisher, 1973)—one champions the materialistic and individualistic vision of wealth and prosperity and the other exalts the values of equality and tolerance. While some critics of the American Dream argue that it exists as a dream for those of European descent responsible for mass migration from Europe in the 19th century and has little value for those brought in slavery (Hochschild, 1996) it also played a significant role in the Great Migration of black Americans from the South to the North in search of a better life (DeSantis, 2009). The American Dream brings the myths of the pioneer and the Protestant Work Ethic together along with promises of a return to the glory of Grecian democracy. It provides not only a dream of the future, but also a fundamental measurement of the present. As will be seen, the ideal of the Dream resides deep within the key documents of the US experiment. It reflects, in many ways the hopes and fears of the nation as different political and economic movements take hold.

Myths, as Joseph Campbell describes, “are metaphorical of spiritual potentiality in the human being, and the same powers that animate our life, animate the life of the world.” (Campbell, 1991). From a Sorelian point of view, the power of myths eclipse the ideologies and fuel the historical movements (Ohana, 1991). The key ideologies at play in the United States include the Protestant Work Ethic and Manifest Destiny (Prasad & Elmes, 1997; Weber, 2003). These ideologies not only pushed the European settlers to expand westward, but also encouraged them to prioritize the building of wealth and ownership. Combined with Jeffersonian ideal of Americanism, they create the grand-myth of The American Dream and a narrative of entitlement for the Europeans colonizing North America. Understanding the value of worker ownership requires understanding the ideological context of the American dream (Durepos, Mills, & Mills, 2008). In many ways, the American Dream acts as an antithesis to the grand myth of the Aristocracy of Old Europe, Machiavelli’s The Prince. Both act in the Sorelian model of creating a governing ideology. This particular grand myth created the energy that moves workers to strive for a better life.

Next: Foundations of the American Dream


Campbell, J. (1991). The Power of Myth. New York: Anchor Books.

DeSantis, A. D. (2009). Selling the American Dream Myth to Black Southerners: The Chicago Defender and the Great Migration of 1915-1919. Western Journal of Communication, 62(4), 474-511. doi:10.1080/10570319809374621

Durepos, G., Mills, J. H., & Mills, A. J. (2008). The Pan American Dream and the Myth of the Pioneer. In M. Kostera (Ed.), Organizational Epics and Sagas: Tales of Organizations. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Fisher, W. R. (1973). Reaffirmation and Subversion of the American Dream. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 59(2), 160-167.

Hirschman. (1970). Exit, Voice & Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Hochschild, J. L. (1996). Facing Up to the American Dream: Race, Class and the Soul of the Nation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Ohana, D. (1991). Georges Sorel and the Rise of the Political Myth. History of European Ideas, 13(6), 733-746.

Perlman, S. (1970). A Theory of the Labor Movement. New York: Augustus M. Kelley.

Prasad, A., & Elmes, M. (1997). Issues in the Management of Workplace Diversity. In P. Prasad, A. J. Mills, M. Elmes, & A. Prasad (Eds.), Managing the Organizational Melting Pot: Dilemmas of Workplace Diversity (pp. 367-385). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Rank, M. R., Hirschl, T. A., & Foster, K. A. (2014). Chasing the American Dream: Understanding What Shapes Our Fortunes. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rowland, R. C., & Jones, J. M. (2007). Recasting the American Dream and American Politics: Barack Obama’s Keynote Address to the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 93(4), 425-448. doi:10.1080/00335630701593675

Weber, M. (2003). The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (T. Parsons, Trans.). Mineola, NY: Dover Publications.

[1] The search was conducted on March 31, 2016.


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Labor Unions and Co-ops, part 5

There and Back Again: Unions and Worker Co-operatives

In October 2009, the United Steelworkers and Mondragón Co-operative held a joint press conference to announce a partnership to create worker-owned unionized factories in the United States (Witherell, 2013). This marked the first time that the national leadership of a US labor union openly endorsed worker ownership since the days of the Knights of Labor. Likewise, for Mondragón, it marked as new effort to directly engage the US marketplace and build relationships with labor as opposed to contracting with the management of organizations such as General Motors.

The Union-Co-op Model exists as more of a paradigm than a model. No one form of union-co-operative partnership exists, although some proponents might claim superiority of their model. The unions involved tend to be from the MGU and SMU models (SEIU, CWA, United Electricians) but there are a few traditional Business Unions in the mix as well (UFCW). As the recovery from the Great Recession continues, the idea of creating synergy out of these disparate parts of the labor movement continues to intrigue academics and community organizers alike with the model seen as a key part of building a more sustainable commonwealth (Gordon-Nembhard, 2016) and overcoming income inequality (Huertas-Noble, 2016).

For many in the traditional worker co-operative community, labor unions seem as an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy and potential source of conflict when the workers already own the means of production; however, as pointed out in a 1953 National Labor Board ruling (Everett Plywood), “The mere fact that an employee also has rights and privileges of a stockholder is not sufficient to deny him from availing himself in his capacity as an employee.” (Lund, 1990).  Employee owned business can have a number of unique legal issues and conflicts of interests and the laws are not written to consider the unique nature of workers enjoying the position of both employee and employer (Dilts, 1990). Certainly, some worker co-operative models do create questions as to their authenticity and ability to adequately protect worker rights (Davis, 2016), however, as the NLRB noted in Everitt v. Union Cab,  when “shareholder-members of a co-operative corporation were excluded from coverage of the Act because they, as a group, had an “effective voice in the formulation and determination of corporate policy,” making them managerial employees.” (Gottshalk, 2013).

There is no inherent aspect of either worker co-operatives or labor unions that makes them progressive. Both organizations can be motivated for purely material gain regardless of the larger ethical issues as play. Likewise it should not be assumed that when worker co-operatives and labor unions work together that the outcome will lead toward a more progressive or socially engaged movement (Ji, 2015). The role of unions within an employee owned business can take on several roles as loyal opposition, strategic partner, or safety net (Ellerman, 1988). For worker co-operatives, which do not depend on the majority stockholder to ensure good working conditions or the democratic management scheme, the engagement with labor unions can be quite varied. So far, I have discussed the various dynamics in American society, culture, and labor movements that have brought these two forms of the labor movement back together. The material benefits for workers through either the labor union or worker ownership model have been well documented, but don’t necessarily offer a great reason for these groups to merge. This brings the discussion back to the social and community needs of the members that they experience through the unique myth of the American Dream. This dream offers more to people than material wealth, it also offers a sense of humanity and shared community that helped expand the civil and human rights from a narrow group of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Men to include women, people of color, indigenous communities, all-religious faiths, and most recently to sexual and gender identity. It has not always been an easy (or safe) pathway, and at many times, the progress made seems under attack. However, the core myth of the American Dream provides a inspiration and motivation for continued progress towards social and economic justice.

Next Week: part one of a discussion about the American Dream, Unions, and Co-ops.

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update on this site

I had a few minutes this morning to fix some things with this site.

If you have been itching to comment, you can do so now. You need to register as a subscriber and then you will have access to comment. I had it turned off to deal with all of the bots out there.

If you wish to join the commenting team, let me know!

Read about this site in more detail on the site information page.

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Labor Unions and Co-ops, part 4

The New* Worker Co-operatives

Worker owned businesses have always existed in the in the United States. They may be as small as a single proprietorship or as large as Google. Depending on the definition of worker ownership, organizations such as Google and Microsoft (Blasi, Freeman, & Kruse, 2013), which offer significant stock options along with traditional ESOPs such as WinCo Foods and their “millionaire cashiers” (Josephs, 2014). The workers in these organizations tend to do better than workers in competing organizations; however, the workers do not have any control over the workplace. The ownership is purely transactional. A different type of worker ownership, the co-operative, has also engaged workers in the United States for centuries. As stated earlier, worker owned factories were the primary vehicles for the Knights of Labor. Other laborers (both industrial and agricultural) turned to the co-operative model to meet their economic and social needs. The American Grange championed co-operatives throughout the United States and many of the top Agriculture firms today are producer or “shared-service” co-operatives in which the members of the co-operatives may be a single farmer (and his or her family) or an incorporated farm and use the co-operative to engage in bulk purchasing of supplies and marketing the product of each farm (Welch’s, Sunkist, Land o’ Lakes, Cenex, etc.). Worker co-operatives, in the laborers of a business own the business, however, largely disappeared during the second Industrial Revolution with the exception of a few fishing and logging co-operatives in the Pacific Northwest.

The social upheaval caused by the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-Vietnam War movement sparked renewed interest in worker owned co-operatives, but outside of a few enclaves such as San Francisco, Minneapolis, Madison and Boston, the worker co-operative model was often ignored in favor of consumer, agricultural, housing and financial co-operatives. This began to change in the new century. The collapse of the Argentina economy in the early 00’s sparked a new movement of workers who took over their closed factories, claiming the building and equipment in exchange for back-pay (Lewis, 2004) sparking a similar take over in Chicago at the Republic Windows Company in 2007. This movement sparked similar ideas of worker ownership in the United States. By 2004, momentum among the existing 300 or so worker co-operatives built to create the US Federation of Worker Co-operatives and they held their first meeting in Minneapolis. On the international level, the International Organization of Industrial and Service Co-operatives published a Declaration on Worker Co-operatives that defines a worker co-operative as meeting these key elements (CICOPA, 2005):

  1. They have the objective of creating and maintaining jobs that provide a living wage or better and contribute to the quality of life, dignity of human work, and provide for democratic self-management while promoting community and local development.
  2. Free and voluntary membership/
  3. A majority of the workers are members and a majority of the members are workers.
  4. The worker-members relation with their co-operative should be different than waged-based labor and more akin to autonomous individual work.
  5. Internal governance is democratic.
  6. They have autonomy and independence from the government and third parties.

The CICOPA definition along with the simpler concept provide by Bowles and Gintis (1996) in which they define a democratic firm as one in which labor chooses the administration and administrative structure through a democratic process. The worker co-operatives in the United States run a gamut of industries from retail such as bicycle shops, bakeries, and book stores, to service industries such as cleaning, home care, and taxi operations, to industry with coffee roasters, industrial bakeries, and machine engineering. Governance models range from the true collective (generally in smaller co-operatives) to traditional hierarchical top-down management command-and-control. However, at the base of all of these organizations is either a board of directors or the general meeting in which the workers collectively decide the key aspects of the organization. Worker co-operatives have a lot to offer the labor movement and their development at this critical juncture in the US labor movement offers new potentialities for workers to reengage with the American Dream.

While traditional industrial relations theory tend to disregard, if not distrust, the ability of workers to self-manage in an effective means (Perlman, 1970) more recent research has shown that worker co-operatives can out-perform their competitors even while spending capital on improved working conditions and wages. In general, worker co-operatives operate at a higher level of productivity than conventional firms (CF) (Bowles & Gintis, 1996; Craig & Pencavel, 1995) although the causes of increased productivity may not always be completely understood and may even be a result of work practices that might not be permitted in conventional firms with or without labor union representation due to the “entrepreneurial nature” of the worker and a higher degree of risk-acceptance (Craig & Pencavel, 1995). In any event, traditional comparisons need to be adjusted with the nature of the workplaces. Co-operatives exist to benefit their members just as CFs exist to benefit their shareholders. In an employee owned firm, then, many of the benefits (higher wages, better insurance, safer and more humane working conditions) translate economically into the expense side of a traditional profit-and-loss statement. For example, Union Cab of Madison Co-operative  provides health insurance to its members by paying up to 70% of the premium in an industry that never provides health insurance to its drivers. In 2009, this benefit cost the co-operative approximately $360,000 for the co-operative’s contribution or approximately 5% of annual sales (Siegfried, 2009).

Wages compose the primary driver for labor unions and worker co-operatives alike, so it should come as no surprise that worker owned business tend to have higher wages as the wages become the primary source of return to the worker-owner (Craig & Pencavel, 1992). However, the more interesting dynamic arises from mechanisms to adjust to changes in the market place where co-operative engage a positive wage-employment relationship (they adjust to the market more slowly and tend to protect employment) (Burdín & Dean, 2009). In addition, pay differential within the co-operatives tend to be exceptionally small (Craig & Pencavel, 1992; Levine, 1990) as work tends to be considered equitable in order to meet the needs of the organization. The ability to control wages and benefits and using a compressed wage scale creates an elasticity within the labor system that helps lengthen the life span of the co-operative and allows them to weather economic downturns better than CFs (Ben-ner, 1984).  However, the life cycle of worker-owned firms does not follow similar patterns of CFs, which may be for a multitude of reasons that can vary by nationality. Some of these reasons include risk-aversion among the ownership required to address changes in the marketplace, the conversion of a CF already near the end of its life cycle, and increased competition during economic upswings (Ben-Ner, 1988).

While data on the actual number of worker co-operatives is severely limited, the incidence of the creation of worker co-operatives has been increasing since 2010. Many of the new co-operatives are being started by new immigrants and younger people who do not see the pathway to a career that their parents had even twenty years ago. In addition, the model has received a significant amount of attention recently through films such as Shift Change (Dworkin & Young, 2013) and new organizations such as the Democracy Collaborative. Significant barriers exists to the creation of worker co-operatives, not the least of which includes access to capital (Lawrence, 2002) and connection to larger networks. Labor unions provide one such network. Traditional relationships between the two models of the labor movement in the United States tend to run from indifference to distrust that workers can adequately manage disputes without union leadership (Lanze, 1992).  The Industrial Workers of the World has historically mistrusted worker co-operatives as a form of “self-exploitation” worrying that they will push wages down to compete with unionized firms (X344543, 2010).

* By “new” I mean the new era of worker ownership that began in the 1970’s and continued building through the neoliberal attack on labor unions (post-PATCO) and the social safety net. Some of these co-ops have celebrated their 40th anniversary, but they are new in the sense that they marked a return to worker ownership that had largely been ignored for much of the 20th Century.



Ben-ner, A. (1984). On the Stability of the Cooperative type of Organization. Journal of Comparative Economics, 8, 13.

Ben-Ner, A. (1988). The Life Cycle of Worker-Owned Firms in Market Economies. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 10, 26.

Blasi, J. R., Freeman, R. B., & Kruse, D. L. (2013). The Citizen’s Share: Putting Ownership Back Into Democracy. New Haven & London: Yale University Press.

Bowles, S., & Gintis, H. (1996). The Distribution of Wealth and the Assignment of Control Rights in the Firm. Amherst, MA.

Burdín, G., & Dean, A. (2009). New Evidence on Wages and Employment in Worker Cooperatives Compared with Capitalist Firms. Journal of Comparative Economics, 37, 16. doi:10.1016/j.jce.2009.08.001

CICOPA. (2005). World Declaration on Worker Co-operatives. Retrieved from

Craig, B., & Pencavel, J. (1992). The Behavior of Worker Cooperatives: The Plywood Companies of the Pacific Northwest. The American Economic Review, 82(5), 1083-1105.

Craig, B., & Pencavel, J. (1995). Participation and Productivity: A Comparison of Worker Cooperatives and Conventional Firms in the Plywood Industry. Retrieved from Washington, DC:

Dworkin, M., & Young, M. (Writers). (2013). Shift Change. In M. Young (Producer). Seatle, WA: Bullfrog Films.

Josephs, M. (2014, November 5, 2014). Millionaire Grocery Clerks: The Amazing WinCo Foods Story. Forbes.

Lanze, L. B. (1992). Attitudes of Labor Union Leaders Toward Worker Cooperatives: A survey of the United States, the United Kingdom and Italy. Annals of Public and Coopertive Economics, 63(1), 77-102.

Lawrence, J. W. (2002). Democratic Worker Cooperativs: An Organizational Strategy Reconsidered for the 21st Century. New Politics, Summer, 116-122.

Levine, D. I. (1990). Participation, Productivity, and the Firm’s Envrionment. California Management Review, 32(4), 86-100.

Lewis, A. (Writer). (2004). The Take. In B.-A. Productions, K. L. Productions, N. F. B. o. Canada, & C. B. Corporation (Producer). Toronto: Celluloid Dreams.

Perlman, S. (1970). A Theory of the Labor Movement. New York: Augustus M. Kelley.

Siegfried, D. (2009). [Board Meeting Packet].

X344543, M. (2010). Collectives, Workers’ Cooperatives and the IWW. Retrieved from


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Labor Unions and Co-ops, part 3

A Labor Movement for the New Guilded Age

When Ronald Reagan stood before the Brandenburg Gate on June 12, 1987, he not only invoked the rising supremacy of the United States by demanding “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”, he ushered in a new era of individualism focused on the “freedom”(Bruner, 1989) that was libertarian in nature and encouraged the material success of the US economic model. This beginning of a new “Guilded Age” focused on the creation of individual wealth and individual prosperity. Roy H. Williams sees this moment as the zenith of the “Me Generation” (Williams, 2016), in which the relative strengths of individual achievement turn back on themselves. In this continuum between the “we” and the “me”, observers can understand the general debate over labor between the collective nature of the Republic and the desire for individualism. .

The ensuing years after Reagan’s speech saw the wall and the entire Warsaw Pact nations with planned economies fall. The rise of capitalism on a global scale ushered in a new era of globalism through international agreements such as the North American Free Trade Act and creation of the World Trade Organization. Both major party leaders in the United States embraced free trade, which allowed corporations to move capital across international borders with few obstacles. The attack on organized labor under the Reagan administration became a flight from organized labor under the Clinton administration. Further modernization of industry and relaxing New Deal era regulations on finance and monopolies allowed networks such as Wal-Mart, and practices such as “just-in-time” production to further erode the labor ecosystem as the nation switched from an industrial to a service economy (Klein, 2000, 2007; Meyer, 2016). Union coverage in the United States dropped by 17% during the Clinton Administration compared to 25% during the Reagan era[1] (Hirsch & MacPherson, 2012). The neo-liberal model of “flexible” capitalism, which allows capital to move quickly and help enhance just-in-time production, weakened the ability of the Wagner-model labour movement to hold corporations (often transnational) accountable or to meaningfully engage in negotiations (Meyer, 2016).

The reasons behind worker’s desire to unionize (Farber & Saks, 1980) have not changed. Job security, fair treatment and better wages and benefits remain core issues and over a million US workers join unions every year (Chaison, 2006) even while total union membership and coverage continues to decline. In addition to formal trade unions which have come under increasingly heavy regulation through amendment to the Wagner Act, workers and community organizers have begun to engage in non-traditional means to change working conditions through unofficial labor groups, social movements, and new mass organizations such as the Fight for $15, Chicago Jobs and Living Wage Campaign, and other grass roots organizations (Meyer, 2016).

This has led to a rediscovery non-business union models such as Mutual Gains Unionism (MGU) or Value-Added Unionism (VAU) and Social Movement Unionism (SMU). The MGU model found limited success as labor unions attempted to engage in partnerships with the employers of their members in which traditional bargaining over wages and benefits gives way to participating in the growth of the company to the benefit of workers overall, the most successful example being the Saturn automotive plant in Tennessee, a project of General Motors. SMU theorists urge the labor movement to reunite with non-labor organizations to make common cause in the defense of workers and all people who suffer under the dominant economic system. Recent attempts such as SEIU’s Jobs with Justice campaign for New York City Janitors and CWA’s efforts with living wage campaigns demonstrated the power of SMU with marginalized communities outside of the traditional “union zone” (Devinatz, 2008; Nissen, 2003). SMU helped propel the labor movement throughout the first third of the 20th century and helped create the environment that allowed business unionism to exist (Nissen, 2003).

A number of community organizers have created worker centers to press the rights of workers. These centers are “community-based and community led” (Fine, 2005) and evade the regulations of the NLRA. This allows workers and their allies to use community campaigns to press demands for better wages, working conditions, and local regulations that protect workers. The worker centers, as not-for profit organizations that are independent of a collective bargaining unit, have the ability to go where unions cannot. They can engage secondary boycotts, provide informational pickets to publicly shame employers, and even protect workers during and after wildcat strikes. (Duff, 2014; Eidelson, 2013). Further, the National Labor Relations Board under the Obama administration included non-unionized workers in its purview. The NLRA has always covered all workers, but traditionally the NLRB has not considered cases brought by unrepresented workers (or the ability to bring a case has been too difficult).

These new movements look and act like the social movements of the late 1800’s: the Eight Hour Day, the rise of the NAACP, the push for regulation such as the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and other efforts to bring the Robber Barons of the day to heel. While the traditional Wagner model labor unions may seem to be in retreat (and their numbers decrease daily), the modern technology of the social media, smartphones and encrypted messaging services along with the renewed interest in worker rights through Fair Trade abroad and Living Wages at home have created a powerful foundation for workers to engage employers as never before. The modern labor movement may seem fractured (and in many ways it is), but it has not devolved into a disorganized mess, but a mosaic of multiple organizational models. This has created a multi-model line of attack and defense for the modern worker that has brought new relevance to old organizations such as the Industrial Workers of the World and their protracted fight against the Jimmy Johns sandwich franchise (Jamieson, 2016) and brought to life the worker co-operative model.

As Nissen (2003) argues, either model, MGU or SMU, can provide new potentialities for labour unions. The MGU model works best with an employer engaged to see the union as a partner. The SMU model connects the labor union to a larger social movement and can provide significant support to the union from outside. Both models, however, require a paradigm shift on the part of union leadership. In terms of the union-co-op model, a merger of the models into a Value-Added/Social Movement framework would work well within a worker-owned organization.

Post script: I wrote this a couple of years ago before the 2016 Presidential election. That election demonstrated the limitations of electoral politics to the labor movement. What one administration gives, another can take away. A responsive government requires more than voting, but constantly working to move the needle. The recent advance of the Main Street Employee Ownership Act comes from a lot of hard work and a recognition that the worker ownership in particular and the labor movement in general needs to engage elected representatives from a non-partisan position. Worker ownership has always been part of the American landscape (Blasi,  2013). Of course, slavery has also been part of the American labor system and continues in the form of the prison-industrial complex. Navigating these competing cultural attitudes about labor in the U.S. (ownerhsip by worker vs ownership of workers) that engage institutional  systems racism makes the ability to engage in the electoral field difficult and rife with contradictions.

Next Week: the “new” worker c0-ops


Blasi, J. Freeman, R. (2013) The Citizen’s Share: Putting Ownership Back into Democracy. Yale University Press, New Haven.

Bruner, M. S. (1989). Symbolic Uses of the Berlin Wall, 1961-1969. Communication Quarterly, 37(4), 319-328.

Chaison, G. (2006). Unions in America. Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi: SAGE Publications.

Devinatz, V. G. (2008). Social-Movement Unionism and U.S. Labor’s Uncertain Future. Journal of Collective Negotiations, 32(3), 203-213.

Duff, M. C. (2014). ALT-Labor, Secondary Boycotts, and Toward a Labor Organization Bargain. 63 Catholic University Law Review, Summer.

Eidelson, J. (2013). Alt-Labor. The American Prospect.

Farber, H. S., & Saks, D. H. (1980). Why Workers Want Unions: The Role of Relative Wages and Job Characteristics. Journal of Political Economy, 88(2), 349-369.

Fine, J. (2005). Worker Centers: Organizing Communities at the Edge of the Dream. Retrieved from

Hirsch, B., & MacPherson, D. (2012). Index of Tables: Union Membership and Coverage. Retrieved from

Jamieson, D. (2016). These Jimmy John’s Workers Were Fired Illegally. Five Years Later, They Might Get Their Jobs Back. Huffpost Business. Retrieved from

Klein, N. (2000). No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies (Canadian ed.). Toronto: Vintage Random House.

Klein, N. (2007). The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. New York: Metropolitan Books.

Meyer, R. (2016). Precarious Workers’ Movements and the Neoliberal State. Working USA: The Journal of Labor and Society, 19, 27-55.

Nissen, B. (2003). Alternative Strategic Directions for the U.S. Labor Movement. Labor Studies Journal, 28(1), 133-155. doi:10.1177/0160449X0302800107

Reagan, R. (1987). Address from the Brandenburg Gate (Berlin Wall) (June 12, 1987). Retrieved from

Williams, R. H. (2016). Soliloquy. Monday Morning Memo. Retrieved from

[1] The Reagan Era includes 1981-1993 since his Vice President George H. W. Bush succeeded him and many of the policies remained in place. George W. Bush’s two-terms only saw union coverage drop by 8%.

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Labor and Co-ops: Beginnings

part 2 of a series

Early Unionist Movement and Co-operatives

The first inception of the labor movement in the United States looked little like today’s organizations. The National Labor Union and the Knights of Labor did not seek to engage in contractual relationships with employers (Chaison, 2006; Leikin, 2005). During this era, the nature of work and the worker was in a great transition, but the itinerant worker was often in the format of the old guild system of apprentice or master. People who worked for others generally were doing so on a specific job or contract basis or they engaged as an apprentice to learn the trade (Chaison, 2006).  Employees were a special lot: often seen as lacking the will and moral basis to work for themselves or suffering from a disability and unable to engage control over their own life (Jacques, 1996).

It is the role of the Knights of Labor and other similar unions that provides a touchstone for this study. These workers came together to create a work place with better wages and dignity by competing with their former bosses. Rather than fight with the owners of capital for a share of the profits produced with their labor, they organized their own company where they controlled the means of production (Fink, 1985; Hogler, 2004). The response of the capitalists was mixed. Some larger organizations support the Knight’s work and even joined the Knight of Labor in order to be engaged with these workers. Others, however, conspired to undermine these workers owned factories by working with the owners of the railroads and stores to deny space on the trains and shelves.

Although the Knights of Labor did not believe in an adversarial relationship with the owners of the factories, often opposing strikes and similar actions (Blasi, Freeman, & Kruse, 2013), they did see “an inevitable and irresistible conflict between the wage system of labor and the republican system of government” (Fink, 1985p 4). When possible, they pushed for higher wages, but generally they saw the path forward through worker ownership of the new factories. As the push for concentration of industry changed the nature of work from itinerant worker to employee, the Knights saw ownership as the key to achieving the promise of America and Republican ideals (Fink, 1985; Leikin, 2005). However, the economic forces were arrayed against them and internally, they were unable to take the necessary steps to support each other’s operations either with capital or managerial expertise.


Blasi, J. R., Freeman, R. B., & Kruse, D. L. (2013). The Citizen’s Share: Putting Ownership Back Into Democracy. New Haven & London: Yale University Press.

Chaison, G. (2006). Unions in America. Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi: SAGE Publications.

Fink, L. (1985). Workingmen’s Democracy: The Knights of Labor and American Politics. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press.

Hogler, R. (2004). Employment Relations in the United States. Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi: SAGE Publications.

Jacques, R. (1996). Manufacturing the Employee. London: Sage Publications.

Leikin, S. (2005). The Practical Utopians: American Workers and the Cooperative Movement in the Guilded Age. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press.

Next: The Rise of the Employee and Craft Unionism

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Labor Unions and Worker Co-ops: Today and Yesterday

Note: the post in this series resulted from work towards a larger research project that has since been abandoned. I will be turning two of those chapters into posts that will run on Tuesdays for the next several weeks under the category “American Dream”. It is, in essence, an unfinished work, so keep that in mind as you are reading.

I hope to read your comments!

part 1 of a series

The Development of the Labor Movement in the United States

From the earliest days of the Republic the rights of workers within the work place has been a subject of debate between the Federalist and Jeffersonian wings of the national discourse when efforts to rebuild New England’s shipping and fishing industry after the revolution included consideration for the sailors along with the shipbuilders (Blasi, Freeman, & Kruse, 2013; Nelles, 1932). The debate between the relative rights of capital and labor in a Republic has continued with periodic shifts from one side to the other. The last major shift notably occurred in 1981. US President Ronald Reagan responded to a strike by PATCO, a labour union that represented the nation’s air traffic controllers. Reagan’s response ushered in a new era of labor relations in the United States that ended the “great compromise” between labor and owners that had existed for the previous thirty years (Storch, 2013) . His actions in replacing the strikers were legal under the National Labor Relations Act (as amended by the Taft-Hartley Act); however, it had been a rarely used option. Reagan’s actions were a signal to the nation’s corporation that they would have greater reign to undermine labor unions (Hogler, 2004). Following this action was the liberalization of capital under agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization that allowed capital to move operations across national borders rather than negotiate with local workers (Chaison, 2006; Hartmann, 2011; Storch, 2013). This created a downward spiral in the United States labour movement resulting in diminished membership and power regardless of the political party in control (see figures 1-3).




Figure 1: Union Density 1964 source: (B. T. Hirsch, Macpherson, & Vroman, 2003)

Figure 2: Union Density 1984 source: (B. Hirsch & MacPherson, 2012)

Figure 3: Union Density by State 2014 source: (B. Hirsch & MacPherson, 2016)

The “Wagner model” of collective bargaining ushered into law during the Great Depression and America’s “New Deal” represented an industrial environment with large factories employing thousands of workers at a single facility such as Western Electric’s Hawthorne plant, or the “Big Three” automotive plants in the Detroit metropolitan area (Hogler, 2004). By the end of the 1990’s these large factories had become part of America’s industrial history having been replaced by smaller assembly plants, robotics, and computerized operations along with a move of the more labor intensive work to oversees locations that could quickly move based on the value of local labor. As Naomi Klein (2000) documents in No Logo, many US corporations quit manufacturing goods such as shoes and clothing (in the example of Nike and Levi Strauss and Co.) and switched to marketing their brand with all operations sub-contracted to corporations in the developing world where labor costs could be reduced to almost nothing.

The vacuum in the labor movement created by the retreat of organized labor created an opportunity for a different form of labor organization in the form of worker co-operatives. Worker Co-operatives are corporations in which the people who provide labor also own the company. These organizations can be quite small (a three person bike shop) or quite large (a three thousand member home-care co-operative). The defining characteristics that these organizations engage in revolve around the co-operative identity of “one member one vote” (“Statement on the Co-operative Identity,” 1995). Workers generally create a corporation with a board of directors that acts on the mutual interests of the workers as owners and employees.

The publishing of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations in 1776 generally marks the beginning of the era of the capitalist economy[1]. The shift in production from cottage industries and the guild system that represented the urban economy of the feudalist period to the centralized production and horizontal organization of the new “for profit” corporations brought with it a fundamental change in the social contract connected to the exchange of wealth. With this change came a new concept of competition and the value of work.

For many, the new world order ushered into being in the late 1700’s was a catastrophe. As the nature of workers transitioned from independent operator to employee, the workers lost their ability to control their lives economically and, quite often, politically. The push back brought the rise of both the Trade Union Movement and the Co-operative Movement, both originating at the central of the new disruptive capitalism: Manchester, United Kingdom (Birchall, 1994; Fairbairn, 1994). This was not an accident. The two movements have been linked for good reason in that they attempt to embrace a market economy in a method that elevates individuals and replaces the profit motive with the concept of human dignity. These attributes have been the core of both movements since their founding.

The industrial revolution in the United Kingdom occurred several decades prior to a similar revolution in North America. That revolution began intellectual movements that would have an echo in the United States as it industrialized and transitioned from an agrarian economy providing raw materials to the manufacturers of Britain into a nation of industrialists and producers[2]. This new world order became, in many ways, a hot war between the industrialists of the north and the Agrarian of the south (who depended upon slave labor), but it also created a discussion about the nature of work in the United States (Jacques, 1996). For many, the Civil War of the United States replaced chattel slavery with wage slavery. It began the industrialization of the workplace that transformed the independent worker into an employee.

While in the UK, those engaging in unionism (and to some extent co-operation) were deemed anti-establishment; the environment in the United States was more open. Unionist in the UK could expect deportation to Australia and banishment (Birchall, 1994; Thompson, 1994), while workers in the United States found inspiration and support through the constitution (Perlman, 1970). Commonwealth vs. Hunt (1842) provided critical legal protection to labor union activity in that it did not presume the collective actions of workers to be a conspiracy (Chaison, 2006). This allowed workers to organize to seek higher wages and better working conditions provided that they did not violate other laws in their pursuit. The ruling was a victory for Jeffersonian ideals in that it allowed workingmen to balance the power of the new capitalists although it did not go so far as to keep government out of the fray (Nelles, 1932).

[1] Of course, 1776 also marks the beginning of the democratic era with the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the American colonies, which will be explored more thoroughly in Chapter 4.

[2] Adam Smith’s early writing such as the Theory of Moral Sentiments clearly influenced American thinkers such as Thomas Jefferson (Ganter, 1936).


Birchall, J. (1994). Co-op: The People’s Business. Manchester: Manchestur University Press.

Blasi, J. R., Freeman, R. B., & Kruse, D. L. (2013). The Citizen’s Share: Putting Ownership Back Into Democracy. New Haven & London: Yale University Press.

Chaison, G. (2006). Unions in America. Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi: SAGE Publications.

Fairbairn, B. (1994). The Meaning of Rochdale: The Rochdale Pioneers and the Co-operative Principles. Occassional Paper Series,  (94-02). Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, Saskatoon, SK.

Ganter, H. L. (1936). Jefferson’s “Pursuit of Happiness” and Some Forgotten Men. The Willam and Mary Quarterly, 16(4), 27.

Hartmann, T. (2011). Rebooting the American Dream: 11 Ways to Rebuild our Economy. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

Hirsch, B., & MacPherson, D. (2012). Index of Tables: Union Membership and Coverage. Retrieved from

Hirsch, B., & MacPherson, D. (2016). Union Membership and Coverage Database from the CPS. Retrieved from

Hirsch, B. T., Macpherson, D. A., & Vroman, W. G. (2003). Estimates of Union Density by State.  Retrieved May 21, 2016

Hogler, R. (2004). Employment Relations in the United States. Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi: SAGE Publications.

Jacques, R. (1996). Manufacturing the Employee. London: Sage Publications.

Klein, N. (2000). No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies (Canadian ed.). Toronto: Vintage Random House.

Nelles, W. (1932). Commonwealth v. Hunt. Columbia Law Review, 32(7), 1128-1169. doi:10.2307/1116199

Perlman, S. (1970). A Theory of the Labor Movement. New York: Augustus M. Kelley.

Statement on the Co-operative Identity. (1995). Retrieved from

Storch, R. (2013). Working Hard for the American Dream: Workers and Their Unions: World War I to the Present. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Thompson, D. (1994). Weavers of dreams : the origins of the modern co-operative movement. Davis CA: Center for Cooperatives University of California %@ 9781885641052 %7 150th anniversary ed.

Next: Early Unionist Movement and Co-operatives

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Welcome Back!

Due to being too busy with a number of things in my life, I completely missed that my domain name lapsed. A pirate company squatted on it and the site is “for sale”. I decided that it wasn’t worth haggling with the squatter and I really had been thinking about changing the domain for a while anyway.]

The domain now matches the site name! Yay!

I also finally managed to figure out how to fix the media library. I’m back!

I have updated the links, pictures, and will be populating the other pages as I get around to it.

Hopefully people will find their way back to this site and find it a useful resource again!

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