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Occupy SMA

By Jim Carey

According to Jeremy Grantham, chief investment strategist at GMO since 1970, the average hourly pay (adjusted for inflation) of all workers in the United States has not changed. During that same period, the hourly pay in France was up 140 percent; in Great Britain, it was up 65 percent; and in Japan, it was up 80 percent.

Meeting and Film
Occupy SMA presents:
Shift Change
Mon, Aug 14, 1pm
Quinta Loreto Hotel, TV room
Loreto 15, Centro
Free

OSFAM International reports that eight billionaires control 50 percent of the global wealth. That means eight men have more wealth than 3.6 billion people do on the planet. Corporatism is firmly in control, working very well for the few and not for the many.

The usual economic solutions are not working, so some citizens and public officials are ready to think outside of the box to reinvent our failing economy and restore long-term community stability and a more egalitarian way of life. Shift Change tells the little known stories of employee-owned businesses in San Francisco, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts that compete successfully in today’s economy while providing secure, dignified jobs in democratic workplaces.

Gar Alperovitz, an American political economist and historian, tells us about “Cleveland’s

Glenville neighborhood, a poor, mostly black neighborhood with high unemployment, and an average income of about $20,000. In Glenville, there exists a complex of worker-owned companies called the Evergreen Cooperatives. The largest urban greenhouse in the United States, Green City Growers Cooperative is one of the companies producing 3 million heads of lettuce and greens a year. Evergreen Cooperative Laundry is an industrial scale laundry serving Cleveland Clinic and the University Hospitals, as well as Case Western Reserve University.

“Evergreen Energy Solutions employs men and women from inner city Cleveland and recently installed a forty-two-kilowatt solar unit on the roof of the Cleveland Clinic. Together, those institutions purchase about $3 billion in goods and service a year, which, until recently, were purchased almost entirely outside the community. Now, they have begun to direct some of that purchasing power at this complex of cooperatives.”

Shift Change visits the Mondragón Cooperative (a federation of 120 companies) in the Basque country of Northern Spain. Begun in the 1950s, the Mondragón co-ops have transformed a depressed area of Spain into one of the most productive in Europe, with a high standard of living and an egalitarian way of life. The co-ops are owned and managed by their workers. Seeing the achievements of the Mondragón co-ops helps to overcome the idea (widespread in North America) that worker-run cooperatives can exist only on the economic fringe.

When the economic collapse occurred in 2008, there were no layoffs in Mondragón, despite the exploding Spanish 27 percent unemployment rate. Instead, workers agreed to reduce their wages by an average of five percent. Fagor Domestic Electronics (a manufacturer of washing machines, refrigerators, dishwashers, and other “white” goods) went bankrupt and their cooperative members were paid 80 percent of their salaries for two years through Mondragón’s own insurance company. The workers would eventually join other cooperatives. Join us Monday for an interesting discussion. Our events are free.

 

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