2020 has been a year of great growth for MadWorC, the only local organization dedicated solely to promoting and supporting worker-owned cooperatives.
We were awarded a capacity-building grant from the Madison Cooperative Development Coalition in order to hire our first ever paid staff person. We now have a half-time staff person who is able to dedicate their time to supporting MadWorC’s activities. In March, just days before the pandemic hit, we co-hosted a Regional Rendezvous which drew almost 60 cooperators from around the midwest, and we’re starting a book club and hosting virtual socials for worker-owners.
We have great ideas for where to go next, but we need your help in getting there.
We want to expand our peer network by providing stipends to experienced mentors who work with newly forming cooperatives. Peer mentorship, both formal and informal, has been a key function of MadWorC since the beginning. Providing stipends to peer mentors means that more people will be able to afford to take the time to mentor newer cooperatives. We also plan to work with the local trade schools to implement a curriculum about worker cooperatives to empower students to form their own worker cooperative businesses after graduating.
MadWorC also plans to embark on a project to help convert businesses at risk of closure due to COVID into worker cooperatives, which will improve their ability to survive the pandemic and help our city’s small business economy thrive. Worker cooperatives are a business model that has demonstrated remarkable flexibility in times of crisis, including recessions like the current COVID-related recession.
Now is the time for Madison workers to have stable, democratic employment and for the local economy to recover from losses due to the pandemic. Worker cooperatives are a feasible solution to keeping businesses open and the economy flowing during this crisis. To make this transition, however, workers need the assistance and resources MadWorC is equipped to provide. Through your tax-exempt donation, YOU can be a part of building these exciting opportunities for our community. We’re asking you to give what you can to – $10, $15, $25, $50, $100. Any amount helps us achieve our goals. And thanks to the generosity of Isthmus Engineering, donations will be matched (up to $1500) so your donation can have even more impact. You can donate at https://charity.gofundme.com/madworc-fundraiser
The Worker Co-op Conference is the only national convening dedicated to worker ownership and workplace democracy. This year, it will be held online on September 10th and 11th and registration is FREE. You can get more information at http://conference.coop.
Madison Worker Cooperatives (MadWorC) and the Madison Cooperative Development Coalition (MCDC) grieve the murder of George Floyd, the latest in a very long string of victims of state violence against people of color. This is also one more example of the effects of the systemic and institutional racism that have been part of this nation’s history from the very first days of European colonization. Black lives matter, and they must be safe, free, and prosperous.
We call for demilitarizing the police, along with meaningful community oversight of the police and greater personal liability (including criminal culpability) for officers who fail to provide equal protection.
MadWorC and MCDC believe that racial and economic inequalities are long-term problems that require long-term solutions, so we also seek to reduce the disparities that keep communities of color vulnerable to ongoing violations of their civil and human rights. We do not offer gifts or thoughts and prayers, but solidarity and shared purpose. The best way to dismantle structural racism is to build a new and better structure founded on equal participation.
Both MadWorC and MCDC want to see more Black-owned businesses in and around Madison, and in particular, more Black-owned worker cooperatives. There is a strong history of Black-owned cooperatives in the US, a legacy that we believe can and should continue. (For details, read Collective Courage, by Dr. Jessica Gordon Nembhardt.) We are prepared to provide active and ongoing support to groups that are interested in starting them, and in the case of MCDC, can even provide grants to help cover start-up costs. We view Black business ownership as a path to community wealth-building and self-determination.
From the earliest days, cooperatives have been a source of stability and empowerment for the marginalized. Our principles say that prosperity must be shared, not hoarded. They also tell us that democracy is fundamental to justice, both in the workplace and in society. Yet another thing they tell us is that we must always show concern for community, especially in times like these. We call on cooperators in Madison to redouble our efforts to embody these cooperative principles, to stand with all who have suffered racist violence and oppression in their grief and anger, and to lift up their voices.