Gail Patton and Ursulette Huntley attended a workshop in Athens, Ohio on October 1; “Building Wealth Through Worker Ownership”. During the day they were able to hear about some exciting projects around our region. Representatives from the Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative and The Greater Dayton Union Co-op Initiative talked about their work and their progress toward opening retail grocery stores as worker-owned cooperatives using the Mondragon Model from Spain. They stressed the dual purpose of the Co-ops: provide good jobs with benefits AND fill a need in the community. A grocery store can provide good jobs, but unless it is located in a place that doesn’t have access to fresh food it does not serve a particular need in the community. Conversely, a grocery store could serve a community need, but if it doesn’t provide good jobs with benefits, it doesn’t meet the criteria. We plan to visit Cincinnati and Dayton sometime soon to learn more about these projects.
Also at the workshop was a representative from Our Harvest in Cincinnati:
“Our Harvest creates access to healthy, local food in a way that honors land and labor. By creating farm jobs that pay family-sustaining wages, and employing responsible growing practices, we are working to strengthen the local food system in Cincinnati. Our Harvest runs two of its own farms and buys produce from over 20 independent local food producers and food artisans to sell veggies and local food products in three ways.”
Another interesting case study was Pattycake Bakery in Columbus:
“Pattycake Bakery handcrafts sweets as delicious as they are virtuous, always from scratch, using the finest primarily organic, all vegan, and 100% natural ingredients. Founded in September 2003 and co-operatively owned as of May 1st, 2013, Pattycake strives to treat the earth, our community, and our staff as well as we do our cookies, cakes, and customers. We purchase fresh produce from local farmers, use recycled and biodegradable packaging, choose to pedal deliveries by bike to coffee houses and groceries throughout the city, and operate collaboratively as Columbus’ premier worker-owned co-operative.”
The organizers did a great job of presenting information about worker-owned cooperatives by involving people who are actually developing cooperatives. Check out the websites of these pioneers to find out more about them. If you are interested in learning more about Worker-Owned Cooperatives, please contact us through this website or by calling (304) 697-3007.