Cooperation Jackson

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Services Category: Other servicesServices Tags: bank, education, incubator, and network

Social solidarity profile description
  • Cooperation Jackson is an emerging vehicle for sustainable community development, economic democracy, and community ownership.

    Our vision is to develop a cooperative network based in Jackson, Mississippi that will consist of four interconnected and interdependent institutions: an emerging federation of local worker cooperatives, a developing cooperative incubator, a cooperative education and training center (the Lumumba Center for Economic Democracy and Development), and a cooperative bank or financial institution.

    Cooperation Jackson’s basic theory of change is centered on the position that organizing and empowering the structurally under and unemployed sectors of the working class, particularly from Black and Latino communities, to build worker organized and owned cooperatives will be a catalyst for the democratization of our economy and society overall.

    Cooperation Jackson believes that we can replace the current socio-economic system of exploitation, exclusion and the destruction of the environment with a proven democratic alternative. An alternative built on equity, cooperation, worker democracy, and environmental sustainability to provide meaningful living wage jobs, reduce racial inequities, and build community wealth. It is our position and experience, that when marginalized and excluded workers and communities are organized in democratic organizations and social movements they become a force capable of making transformative social advances.

    Individuals deeply moved by the Jackson-Kush Plan who are striving to see its vision of economic democracy realized launched Cooperation Jackson in the fall of 2013.

    Mission and Purpose

    The broad mission of Cooperation Jackson is to advance the development of economic democracy in Jackson, Mississippi by building a solidarity economy anchored by a network of cooperatives and other types of worker-owned and democratically self-managed enterprises.

    Economic democracy provides economic empowerment for all workers, distributors, suppliers, consumers, communities and the general public by promoting universal access to common resources, democratizing the ownership of the means of production, and democratizing all the essential processes of production and distribution through worker self-management and sustainable consumption.

    Solidarity economy includes a wide array of economic practices and initiatives that share common values – cooperation and sharing, social responsibility, sustainability, equity and justice. Instead of enforcing a culture of cutthroat competition, it builds cultures and communities of cooperation.

    Our Purpose is to create:

    A network of interconnected and interlinked cooperatives and worker owned enterprises in Jackson, Mississippi that will expand economic opportunity, promote sustainability and build community wealth by creating jobs with dignity, stability, living wages and quality benefits.
    A foundation for the revitalization of the working class communities of Jackson, Mississippi based on stable employment, wealth equity and sustainable means of production and distribution.
    A institutional vehicle to promote broad public understanding of economic democracy, the foundations of solidarity economics and the principles of cooperatives and how cooperative and worker owned and self-managed enterprises work to benefit workers, their families and their communities.
    A institutional vehicle to educate and train working people in Jackson, Mississippi to successfully start, finance, own, democratically operate and self-manage a sustainable cooperative enterprise.
    A model that will encourage and enable workers in other cities and municipalities in Mississippi, the South and throughout the United States to implement their own initiatives to promote economic democracy, solidarity economics and cooperative development.

    Cooperation Jackson is now developing 3 cooperatives that are set to open within the next 3 months to a year. These include Freedom Farms, an urban farming cooperative; Nubia’s Place Café and Catering Cooperative; and, Mississippi Waste Alternative, a recycling and composting cooperative. These 3 cooperatives serve as the 1st class of the integrated and interrelated cooperative ecosystem we are working to create to transform Jackson’s economy.

    Cooperation Jackson is the realization of a Just Transition vision decades in the making. Its roots lay deep within the struggle for democratic rights, economic justice, self-determination, particularly for people of African descent in the Deep South, and dignity for all workers.

    We look forward to working in solidarity with progressive forces throughout the country on this transformative project and encourage people to stand directly with us in this effort by joining or forming a Friends of Cooperation Jackson chapter in your area.

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  • Social solidarity profile description:

    The cooperative principles are guidelines by which cooperatives put their values into practice.

    Voluntary and Open Membership: Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all who agree with the cooperative principles who are able to use its services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

    Democratic Member Control: The cooperative system is based upon the equality of member-workers or cooperators. Aside from limited and special circumstances all workers must be members. The cooperative is democratically controlled on the basis of one member, one vote; its governing structures are democratically controlled and are also responsible to the general assembly or other elected body.

    Sovereignty of Labor: Labor is the essential transformative facto of society. The cooperatives renounce wage labor, give full power to the owner-workers to control the co-ops, give primacy to workers in distribution of surpluses, and work to extend the cooperative choice to all members of society.

    Autonomy and Independence: Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If the co-op enters into agreements with other organizations or raises capital from external sources, it is done so based on terms that ensure democratic control by the members and maintains the cooperative’s autonomy.

    Instrumental and Subordinated Character of Capital: Capital is basically accumulated labor and a necessary factor in business development and savings. The co-ops pay a just but limited return on capital saved or invested, a return that is not directly tied to the losses or surpluses of the co-ops. Their need for capital shall not impede the principle of open admission, but co-op members must make a substantial, affordable, and equal financial investment in the cooperative. At present, this membership contribution is equal to a year’s salary of the lowest-paid member.

    Members' Economic Participation: Members contribute equally to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. This benefits members based on the proportion of contributed labor or hours worked or the level of business they conduct with the cooperative rather than on the capital invested.

    Self-Management: Cooperation involves both collective effort and individual responsibility. Cooperation “is the development of the individual not against others but with others.” Democratic control means participation in management and the ongoing development of the skills needed for self-management. There must be clear information available on the co-op’s operations, systematic training of owner-workers, internal promotion for management positions, and consultations and negotiations with all cooperators in organizational decisions that affect them.

    Pay Solidarity: The co-ops will practice both internal and external pay solidarity. Internally, the total pay differential between the lowest and the highest paid member shall not exceed a factor of one to six.

    Internal Cooperation – Cooperation within the Federation of Cooperative Jackson: Internal cooperation within Cooperation Jackson exists on three levels: among individual co-ops organized into groups; among co-op groups; and between Cooperation Jackson system and other movements.

    External Cooperation - Cooperation among Cooperatives: Co-ops are not isolated entities. Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

    Education, Training and Information: Cooperatives provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative. Members also inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives.

    Social Transformation: Cooperation in the Cooperation Jackson system is an instrument for social transformation. As Jose Maria Arizmendiarrieta, a founder of the Mondragón system wrote “Cooperation is the authentic integration of people in the economic and social process that shapes the new social order; the cooperators must make the objective extend to all those that hunger and thirst for justice in the working world.” The cooperatives of Cooperation Jackson will reinvest the major portion of their surpluses in Jackson and Kush District (the contiguously Afrikan counties of western Mississippi). Following the Mondragón model, a significant portion our surplus will go toward new job development, to community development (through the use of social funds), to a social security system based on mutual solidarity and responsibility, to cooperation with other institutions advancing the cause of workers in Mississippi, and to collaborative efforts to developing a transformative culture in Mississippi.

    Universal Nature: Cooperation Jackson proclaims its solidarity with all who labor for economic democracy, peace, justice, human dignity, and development throughout the world, particularly with the peoples of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America.