Today, workers of Oakland, CA will be putting their “tools down” and their “hands in their pockets”.
What is happening in Oakland isn’t unique and some have argued for the entire nation to join them; however, calling a General Strike with only a few days notice is a bit tricky at best. Certainly, Oakland has felt the ravages of Wall Street as have all of our communities. Add to that a horrendous Police apparatus that shoots rubber bullets at passive protestor’s heads and, just last year, executed a young black man in a BART train station (yes, they were BART cops, but a part of the same system and it happened in Oakland).
I am proud to see so many of the North Bay worker coops shutting their doors and joining the marches today. Check out their Facebook page for more information about who is participating.
The US Federation has also released this statement:
“Worker Cooperatives support Occupy Wall Street…
The United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC) stands in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the Occupy movements around the world. As a national grassroots membership organization of worker cooperatives—businesses owned and democratically controlled by our worker members — we support and are honored to join you in this call for an economy organized to meet human needs.
We are heartened to see the beginnings of a genuine discussion and debate about different economic models —models that value fairness at their core. As many of us come together for the first time to discuss the problems that face us, and as we begin to collectively reimagine our economy and society, we believe it is critical to actively make space for all voices to be heard. We urge this new movement to remain open and plural.
…and we invite you to join us in occupying Main Street
Cooperatives are the fastest growing socioeconomic movement in the world, with close to one billion members. Worker cooperative businesses are in all sorts of industries: engineering, importing coffee, baking bread, doing web development, cleaning houses, nursing and home health care, running grocery stores, driving taxis, and more. But worker cooperatives are part of a much larger cooperative economy that includes credit unions, consumer coops, housing coops, agricultural producer coops, and rural electric coops — in the US, nearly 30,000 cooperative enterprises own over $3 trillion in shared assets.
Cooperatives are based on values.
Worker cooperatives are businesses that are owned and operated on democratic principles by the people who work in them. Because they are organized around the will, talents and needs of the human beings who work in them rather than the imperative of growth and ever-increasing profit margins, worker cooperatives have the capacity to promote and extend new, humane and imaginative ways of meeting the material needs of people by producing and distributing goods and services in society.
When dozens, hundreds and thousands of these enterprises pool resources and cooperate with
each other based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and
solidarity, a fundamental transformation of culture and society occurs. This has taken place most notably and enduringly in Mondragon, Spain, and the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, where worker coops drive the economy and fund and control social services, health care, retirement and education.
The cooperative movement needs you. And the world needs the cooperative movement.
As the Occupy movements have made clear, and as the UN recognized in declaring 2012 the
International Year of Cooperatives, we need a new way forward to a better world. Cooperatives can be economic engines and laboratories for democracy — a powerful, practical part of building an economy and society that works for all its members.”
I am not sure that we have all discussed our role in a general strike; however, it is clear to me that we must support those wage slaves who wish to break their bondage and free themselves. We are only one stepped removed. While worker cooperators may own their assets and equity, they do not control their economy. We still suffer at the whims of globalized capitalization. We are only one step out of the chains that bind our fellow workers.
Union Cab and several Madison worker cooperatives and other cooperatives joined the protests in Madison last Winter. The workers knew that the attack on teachers, sanitation workers, bus drivers, and other public employees was just the beginning. That attack has since spread to credit unions and people with disabilities. We can’t pretend that the people occupying Wall Street and similar protests around the world aren’t fighting our fight.
If you live in the Oakland area, join the march. Join your fellow humanity and stand up and demand a better world.