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These Worker Cooperatives Chart a Different Course Than Trump's Retrograde Economics

February 7, 2018 in Blogs

By Sarah Aziza, Waging Nonviolence

The movement is only just beginning to reveal its potential.

Announcing his presidency in 2016, Donald Trump promised the nation that he’d become “the greatest job president God ever created.” His plan to accomplish this rested on a retrograde economic vision that would “make America great again,” by restoring waning coal and manufacturing jobs, as well as putting an end to the alleged assault on American work by foreign immigrants and global competition.

A year later, his attempts to realize this vision have largely consisted of backwards motion. In October, he rolled back the Clean Power Plan, arguing that carbon emissions regulations, rather than the widespread shift away from fossil fuels, were responsible for the decline of U.S. coal. While the striking of these environmental protections leaves the door open for corporations to exacerbate climate change, it has done little to uplift the so-called “Rust Belt,” where he garnered so much support. Meanwhile, at the Indiana Carrier plant — where Trump made a dramatic showing of his “deal” to keep manufacturing jobs from moving to Mexico — hundreds of workers have been laid off, including over 200 just last week.

While the struggle for living wages and steady work is a real concern for millions of Americans, these high-profile gestures are emblematic of a persistent, fallacious narrative. It is one that touts an era of bygone American prosperity, which Trump, and those like him, promise can be restored through top-down, reactionary policies. Not only does this telling obscure or scapegoat communities of color — which are often disproportionately affected by the loss of manufacturing work and the suppression of wages — it also erases the agency of the American worker, who is left at the mercy of politicians and corporate executives.

Yet across the country, many of the nation’s most disenfranchised are writing a different story. In dozens of cities, worker-owner cooperatives are establishing new enterprises based on joint decision-making, dignified work conditions and fair pay. Utilizing their existing skills and harnessing new ones, these groups are leveraging their labor on their own terms, with a vision to change their industries and the economic …read more


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