New York City invests $1.2 million in worker cooperatives

A proclamation from the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio declaring June 21 “Worker Cooperative Day” in New York City.A proclamation from the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio declaring June 21 “Worker Cooperative Day” in New York City.A proclamation from the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio declaring June 21 “Worker Cooperative Day” in New York City.In a move recognizing the role of co-ops to create quality jobs and spur local economic growth, the New York City Council today voted to approve the city’s annual budget, which includes a historic $1.2 million initiative to fund the development of worker cooperatives.

“This budget invests in our city’s future and begins to address inequality, all while strengthening our long-term fiscal health,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement yesterday.

The allocation is the largest investment in worker cooperatives by any U.S. city government to date, and backs up the city’s earlier action to name June 21 the first annual “Worker Cooperative Day,” according to the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC).

New York City is currently home to more than 40 worker cooperative businesses in Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens.

The city also boasts the nation’s largest worker cooperative, the Bronx-based Cooperative Home Care Associates. Wages and benefits for CHCA’s more than 2,000 home healthcare providers have steadily risen more than 40 percent in the past five years, and the organization charts just a 15 percent turnover rate in an industry that experiences a more than 60 percent average annual turnover.

With investment in cooperative development now secured, supporters say the initiative will help low-income and minority New Yorkers become business owners.

A broad coalition came together to push the budget initiative forward, including established and emerging cooperative developers, public officials, non-profits and community members, USFWC said.

USFWC members included the Center for Family Life, New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives, Ecomundo Cleaning, the Working World, Green Worker Cooperatives and the Democracy at Work Institute.

Awareness efforts included a petition asking the New York City Council to support the cooperative development initiative. The petition garnered more than 720 signatures and the support of Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo.

“It is time to turn the tide against income inequality in New York City and support the creation of jobs that combat poverty and empower workers,” the petition said.

The $1.2 million budget is expected to fund groups already supporting cooperatives in New York City, along with new efforts to develop fledgling co-ops, USFWC said.



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