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Adele Edisen
11-12-2012, 06:49 AM
VICTORY! These workers aren't just fighting for their jobs. They want to buy the factory.
(US and UK-only campaign)

Background: Serious Energy, owned in part by Mesirow Financial, was planning to shut down a Chicago-area factory and sell it off for scrap. The workers wanted to buy the factory themselves and keep it in business, but Serious gave them the runaround while it wooed vulture capital companies.

Partners: The Working World

What we want: Members of SumOfUs.org called on Serious Energy and Mesirow Financial to come back to the bargaining table and work with the workers' cooperative to reach a fair deal to save the factory.

Current status: Following months of stalling tactics and backroom deals with outside companies, our petition helped wake up Serious Energy, and achieved the huge step of getting the company to sit down with workers and negotiate in good faith. After weeks of talks, Serious finally agreed to let the workers buy their factory. In the words of our allies, "the petition was instrumental to making it happen." The workers' new cooperative, New Era Windows, will start production of energy efficient windows and doors mid-autumn this year as a fully worker-owned and worker-run enterprise. New Era Windows is continuing to look for donations as it gets its fledgling factory off the ground, and those who want to help out can donate below, or if you're in the Chicago area, go on New Era's website to look into pre-ordering its products.

Read More: The original petition | Fundraiser for the workers | New Era Windows company page (http://www.newerawindows.com/ and http://www.newerawindows.com/our-story)*

Press coverage: The Nation

* added by Adele

Adele Edisen
11-12-2012, 07:05 AM
New Era Windows Cooperative
Home
Products
Our Story
Contact Us
. .

Our Story

In 2008, the boss decided to close our Windows factory on Goose Island and fire everyone.

In 2012, we decided to buy the factory for ourselves and fire the boss. We now own the plant together and run it democratically. This is our story.

---
In 2008, Republic Windows and Doors, after many decades of operation, went bankrupt and was shutdown. This seemed odd as the windows business appeared profitable. At the same time as the shutdown, members of the family business were opening new windows factories in Chicago and hiring workers through temp agencies. They were also being investigated by authorities over irregularities in their bankruptcy and sued by banks over outstanding debts. It seemed the reason workers were losing their jobs might not be because they weren't doing profitable work.

When the announcement to close the plant was made, the workers were told their jobs would be terminated immediately, and that they would be given none of their contractually obligated backpay or severance. People losing their jobs and not getting what they were owed at a time when banks were being bailed out for having taken on too much risk in the pursuit of profits seemed too much. The workers decided to occupy the factory in protest, and the community came out in extraordinary numbers to support them. [See the Michael Moore Short about it]

The workers and the community won enough of this struggle to get the money that was owed them. A new Green Buidlings Company even came to partially reopen the factory with the possibility of starting it up again. Things seemed to have turned around.

Unfortunately, the business plan of this new company, which only involved the windows factory in a tertiary role, never gelled, and the company had to severely cut back its operations, including closing the factory. Once again, the workers, despite still doing profitable work, found themselves a sacrifice in a financial game they couldn't control.

Everyone decided enough was enough. If we want to keep quality manufacturing jobs in our communities, perhaps we should put in charge those who have the most at stake in keeping those jobs -- the workers. The plan to start a new worker owned cooperative business began.

The Workers called in help in the form of the United Electrical Workers Union, whom had been with them since the beginning, The Working World, which had worked with dozens of worker controlled factories in Latin America, and the Center for Workplace Democracy, a new organization in Chicago dedicated to supporting worker control.

With tremendous support from the community, The Working World raised the investment needed for the workers to buy their factory. Unfortunately, the workers weren't being given a place at the negotiating table, and even that right had to be fought for as workers marched in front of investment banks and signatures poured in to support the workers. Finally, the workers were allowed in, and a deal with struck to allow the workers to buy what they needed to run their own factory.

Today, we are putting that new cooperative business together, and we have decided to call it New Era, as we hope it will be an inspiration for how future jobs can be created in America. Everyone can participate in building the economy we all want, and no one should be treated as temporary or just raw material for someone else's business.

We have built the highest quality windows ever made in Chicago, ones that are soundproof and extremely energy efficient, meaning they are both green and save money. Our windows will be the best on the market at prices no one can beat.

Sales will begin in the fall of 2012. We are striving to support our community, to keep quality jobs in America, and make our economy stronger. Please support us and check out our windows. We know you'll love them, and please recommend them to a friend if you do.

If we can work together, as we are proving we can, we strongly believe the future could be brighter than ever.

Our Supporters:
United Electrical Workers Union
The Working World

Press:
The Nation
A New Era for Worker Ownership
. .
Website by Webskillet, a union shop and worker-owned cooperative
. .

Adele Edisen
11-12-2012, 07:21 AM
http://vimeo.com/33260810

Video: 5:59 minutes long

Adele

Magda Hassan
11-12-2012, 07:34 AM
This is really good Adele. Workers are the only thing needed to produce good or deliver services. And this way they get all the profits, no cut for parasites, and can set their own pace and working conditions and expand in ways that suit them.

Magda Hassan
11-12-2012, 07:40 AM
If you haven't seen it I really recommend watching this film.

http://vimeo.com/10061195



In suburban Buenos Aires, thirty unemployed auto-parts workers walk into their idle factory, roll out sleeping mats and refuse to leave.
All they want is to re-start the silent machines. But this simple act - The Take - has the power to turn the globalization debate on its head.
In the wake of Argentina's dramatic economic collapse in 2001, Latin America's most prosperous middle class finds itself in a ghost town of abandoned factories and mass unemployment. The Forja auto plant lies dormant until its former employees take action. They're part of a daring new movement of workers who are occupying bankrupt businesses and creating jobs in the ruins of the failed system.
But Freddy, the president of the new worker's co-operative, and Lalo, the political powerhouse from the Movement of Recovered Companies, know that their success is far from secure. Like every workplace occupation, they have to run the gauntlet of courts, cops and politicians who can either give their project legal protection or violently evict them from the factory.
The story of the workers' struggle is set against the dramatic backdrop of a crucial presidential election in Argentina, in which the architect of the economic collapse, Carlos Menem, is the front-runner. His cronies, the former owners, are circling: if he wins, they'll take back the companies that the movement has worked so hard to revive.
Armed only with slingshots and an abiding faith in shop-floor democracy, the workers face off against the bosses, bankers and a whole system that sees their beloved factories as nothing more than scrap metal for sale.
With The Take, director Avi Lewis, one of Canada's most outspoken journalists, and writer Naomi Klein, author of the international bestseller No Logo, champion a radical economic manifesto for the 21st century. But what shines through in the film is the simple drama of workers' lives and their struggle: the demand for dignity and the searing injustice of dignity denied.

Adele Edisen
11-14-2012, 02:08 AM
This is really good Adele. Workers are the only thing needed to produce good or deliver services. And this way they get all the profits, no cut for parasites, and can set their own pace and working conditions and expand in ways that suit them.

Thank you, Magda, and for that video. Not many in the US, and elsewhere, may know of the origins of the cooperative movement in the US. I am no expert in this field, but this much I do know. From what I have learned is that the idea pf creating cooperatively owned manufacturing plants and many other forms of businesses, including banks, came from immigrants from Finland. Finns settled in northern parts of the United States where they found the climate to be much like that of their original homeland. Finland was a poor country having survived under Swedish rule for many centuries and then under Russian Czars for an additional century. Finns learned to make do by coming together to own and to work in industries and businesses that would benefit themselves and their countrymen. When some of them left for the United States in the pre-World War I era, they brought these ideas with them. In some cases they were met with hostility from their American neighbors who believed in capitalistic private enterprise and banished Finns from their towns. In Michigan there were signs that read, "No Finns or Indians allowed."

My uncle homesteaded in northern Minnesota, creating a productive dairy farm. He organized his dairy farmer neirghbors to form a dairy cooperative to market their milk and cheese products. He also organized an electrical cooperative so that this farming community would have electricity in this very wild rural place, and he also organized a grocery cooperative so that these families, and others, could obtain their food at modest prices. All of this was done long before the rural electrification program of President Roosevelt came into effect in the early 1930s.

In the United States we have Credit Unions for banking purposes. Credit Unions are cooperatives owned by their members who use their services. Grocery cooperatives existed mostly in midwest northern cities. A few industries exist as cooperatives - a bakery in California, a hi-tech computer company in Wisconsin, I believe, according to Michael Moore's film, "Capitalism: A Love Story." In Spain's Basque country, an entire city, Mondragon, began its manufacturing system as cooperatives, and in 50 years grew from a rural village to a modern city with its many cooperative businesses, its own bank, public school system and a university. People in South America are creating cooperatives to solve their economic problems as others have before them. It's an idea that is not exclusively owned by any one group of people.

Adele

Adele Edisen
11-14-2012, 08:58 PM
Year by year

http://www.hok-elanto.fi/index.php?id=422

HOK-Elanto has its roots in cooperative activities in the Greater Helsinki area, which started at the beginning of the last century. The Elanto Cooperative was founded in 1905 and the Helsinki Cooperative Society HOK in 1919.

1900-1910
Birth of the cooperative movement in Finland.
1905 Cooperative Society Elanto is founded on 15 October.
1907 Elanto's first bakery is completed.
1908 The first baker's shops and cafés.

1910-1920
The world is in tumult and so too is Finland. Controversy between workers and landowners in Finland becomes more serious.
1910-1916 Bakers shops and milk shops are established in almost every district of the city.
1915 Väinö Tanner, a young lawyer, rises to Elanto's management.
1916 The workers' cooperatives leave SOK and establish their own ideological organisation Kulutusosuuskuntienkeskusliitto, the Central Union of Consumer Cooperatives. Backas Manor is purchased.
1917 Central Cooperative OTK is established and Elanto becomes a member.
1919 Helsinki Cooperative Society is founded. Elanto leaves SOK. HOK opens its first stores.

1920-1930
Elanto grows into a powerful player; HOK also undergoes considerable growth.
1920 Elanto opens a department store in Hakaniemi.
1924 New bakery in Sörnäinen.
1928 Elanto's head office on Hämeentie is completed.
1929 HOK's head office on Runeberginkatu is completed. HOK's licensed restaurants start up.

1930-1940
HOK discovers its licensed premises and restaurants are a money machine, and it turns in a thrashing result under the shadow of the mighty Elanto, which takes a negative view of alcohol.
1931 Elanto opens Aleksin Suur-Aitta.
1932 Lauri Koskivaara B.Sc. (Econ.) becomes HOK's Managing Director and remains in control of the cooperative for the next 30 years.
1936 HOK opens a restaurant, which seats more than 1000 people, in the Lasipalatsi.
1938 The Keskus-HOK head office goes up on Aleksis Kiven katu, and it houses a warehouse, bakery, processed food factory, laundry, joiners shop, repair shops and garages. Construction of the Sokos department store in the city centre gets underway. Elanto opens 40 new stores during the year.

1940-1950
Private commerce fares better than the cooperative movements in post-war Finland. The cooperatives are passive and they suffer for their honesty during rationing. Sales in HOK's grocery shops also drop but restaurants do well.
1947 Business operations in the city centre Sokos store gradually pick up after the war. Restaurant Vaakuna is located on the top floor of the building. A new restaurant for 1,250 people is on the second floor; the nation nicknames it Hehtaarihokki ("HOK by the hectare").

1950-1960
Self-service stores are indicative of the changing ways of the times. Other consumer innovations are plastic bags, milk cartons and the sell-by-date on bakery products.
1951 Elanto's first fast-service store opens.
1952 The Sokos department store is completed. Hotel Vaakuna, the largest hotel in Finland, opens.
1956 HOK's first self-service store opens.

1960-1970
Helsinki continues its rapid growth. The blocks in the centre start to be full up and the focus turns to the suburbs and regional development.
1963 HOK's business activities expand to include a service station, hairdresser, bookshop and funeral parlour.
1965 HOK opens the Merihotelli in Hakaniemi. Elanto's management completely changes; Ylermi Runko is appointed as the new Managing Director.
1968 Restaurant Fennia is the first of Elanto's licensed restaurants in Helsinki.

1970-1980
HOK's Managing Director Armas Tasa (1969-1975) resolutely takes the cooperative further into the hotel and restaurant business as grocery sales contract. Elanto focuses on the hypermarket trade.
1971 The Leppävaara Maximarket; Elanto is responsible for its food department. Hotel Helsinki transfers to HOK.
1972 HOK opens Hotel Hesperia. Hotel Torni transfers to HOK.
1973 Kannelmäki EKA Market opens. Hotel Olympia transfers to HOK.
1974 Hotel Klaus Kurki transfers to HOK.
1976 Hotel Korpilampi is completed.

1980-1985
Both cooperatives are characterised by unprofitable activities and they undertake radical measures.
1983 On the brink of disaster, the loss-making E cooperatives are merged to form Cooperative EKA Corporation. Elanto decides to remain independent. SOK finds Juhani Pesonen from the Wihuri Group to carry out the company restructuring.
1984 The cooperative societies Teho from Hyvinkää, Ahomaa from Järvenpää and Väinölä from Mäntsälä join HOK. Ässä-Market takes on management of all HOK's viable grocery stores.
1985 The S Bonus card and the S Group's common bonus system are introduced.

1985-1990
The S Group makes one of its most successful transactions. It puts OK-Liha up for sale, and the selling price is finally agreed at FIM 170 million. The major owner, HOK, gains FIM 23 million from the deal and gets the capital to revitalise the cooperative.
1986 HOK purchases 12 Perämies restaurants. Elanto acquires several speciality store subsidiaries.
1987 Ässä-Market purchases the privately owned Alepa chain.

1990-1995
The recession hits Finland and the economy is in free fall. At its height, the number of unemployed rises to 500,000 people. State and municipal tax revenues collapse, social security costs rise. The securing value of fixed assets crashes.
1993 EKA is driven into corporate restructuring when savings fund members want their money.
1995 HOK takes on Ässä-Market's successor Ässä-Partners Oy and sells its hotel business to SOK.

1995-2000
1995 Elanto also applies for corporate restructuring when it is unable to secure a financial pledge to cover the possible emptying out of the savings fund.
1996 Elanto and Tradeka start cooperation based on the corporate restructuring programme.
1998 Arto Hiltunen is appointed as Managing Director of HOK.
1999 Arto Ihto is appointed as Managing Director of Elanto.

2000-2006
Corporate restructuring does not cut Elanto's liabilities. There are still lots of stone-built houses and their value is starting to rise again. Moreover, business operations quickly rise into the black. However, a future with Tradeka is uncertain. Elanto cannot survive alone. It must get a partner that is chosen on business grounds.
2004 Helsinki Cooperative Society Elanto launches business activities. Business concepts change to fall in line with the S Group's chains and the S Bonus card is introduced at all units.
2005 In October, the new cooperative enterprise celebrates 100 years of cooperative activities in the Greater Helsinki area.
2006 The business activities of 21 Spar stores are transferred to HOK-Elanto, making HOK-Elanto the market leader in the grocery trade in its business area.


© HOK-Elanto

Julkaisujärjestelmä: Mediasignal Communications

(See Google for more information on the cooperative movement in Finland - AE)

Adele

Adele Edisen
11-14-2012, 09:19 PM
http://www.slideshare.net/jobitonio/history-of-the-cooperative-movement

A slide show of 114 panels.

Adele

Keith Millea
11-15-2012, 07:07 PM
Back in 1972,I moved to a very remote coastal mountain town in Oregon.I was part of the "back to the land" counterculture movement that had outgrown the Haight/Ashbury scene.This was a place where the closest supermarket was 45 miles of bad road away.

We started and organized a food co-op that would pick up our goods from the wholesale food-co-op in Eugene.We would fill out our orders,then we would send someone into town to pick up the food.Once back,members helped sorting and weighing all the orders for individual households.This because items are bought in bulk form.It all worked great,and I'm pretty sure the co-op is still functioning today.

We also had a crew from our valley that joined the tree planting co-op "Hoedads".This entailed bidding on Govt.contracts to replant logged areas.This provided work for people at least until "others"came in with Mexican crews that could under bid everyone.

And,even before I moved out there,the electric company was a co-op.

Also,I might add,Ken Kesey's father started the Springfield Creamery,which was a local dairy farmers co-op.

So,here in Oregon,co-ops have been used for many years,and as the economy further shrinks,I think the co-op philosophy will only grow more stronger.

Adele Edisen
11-17-2012, 06:23 AM
Back in 1972,I moved to a very remote coastal mountain town in Oregon.I was part of the "back to the land" counterculture movement that had outgrown the Haight/Ashbury scene.This was a place where the closest supermarket was 45 miles of bad road away.

We started and organized a food co-op that would pick up our goods from the wholesale food-co-op in Eugene.We would fill out our orders,then we would send someone into town to pick up the food.Once back,members helped sorting and weighing all the orders for individual households.This because items are bought in bulk form.It all worked great,and I'm pretty sure the co-op is still functioning today.

We also had a crew from our valley that joined the tree planting co-op "Hoedads".This entailed bidding on Govt.contracts to replant logged areas.This provided work for people at least until "others"came in with Mexican crews that could under bid everyone.

And,even before I moved out there,the electric company was a co-op.

Also,I might add,Ken Kesey's father started the Springfield Creamery,which was a local dairy farmers co-op.

So,here in Oregon,co-ops have been used for many years,and as the economy further shrinks,I think the co-op philosophy will only grow more stronger.


That's really interesting, Keith.

I had no idea that so many different types of cooperative bsinesses existed, so I did a search on Google for cooperatives in the US. Ben Franklin even had started one in 1752 and it is still operating today to insure buildings against fire damages. A food cooperative was started in 1844 in Rochdale, England.

Below is a short 11-page summary of cooperatives in the US, and their contrributions to the economy. Some everyday products you might find in your supermarkets are Land O'Lakes dairy products, Ocean Spray and Sunkist fruit juices.

http://www.uwcc.wisc.edu/info/stats/uscoopbus05.pdf

Adele