Our Harvest [Union] Co-op

Our Harvest [Union] Co-op

Image courtesy of Our Harvest Co-op.

You are invited to a presentation on UFCW Local 75’s (Cincinnati) project, the Our Harvest [Union] Co-op, at 6:00pm, next Monday night, February 17th, at Busboys and Poets on 5th and K Street, NW.  The presentation is part of the restaurant’s monthly Bread & Roses labor program.

In addition to providing an update on the Our Harvest Co-op, the presentation will also explore how the union co-op model could become one part of a larger strategy to build sustainable food supply chains with strong labor standards as a way to counter Walmart’s buyer power abuse that squeezes workers and other stakeholders in food supply chains.

If you would like more information and background, please contact Dennis Olson at dolson@ufcw.org.

Here’s a vision statement that summarizes the goals of the Our Harvest Union Co-op:

Our Harvest [Union] Co-op

The vision of Our Harvest Co-op is to launch a worker-owned cooperative produce farm and food hub (aggregation and further processing center) based on a 2009 agreement between the United Steelworkers and the Mondragon Co-op to create union co-ops.  The new union co-op model merges the two structures of collective bargaining practiced by the U.S. unions, and the worker ownership principles of the Mondragon co-operative based in Spain.

This hybrid model replaces Mondragon’s advisory workers’ social council with a collective bargaining committee elected by the worker-owners.  The committee negotiates a collective bargaining agreement with the co-op management, and then enforces the contract to protect workers’ rights on a day-to-day basis.  This will provide workers with stronger workplace protections, higher union wages, and access to union healthcare, pensions and political arm.

At the same time, this new model could provide unions with a new path to growth through the creation of more co-ops, because the co-op’s worker-owners will also become union members.  As UFCW Local 75 continues the launch of the Our Harvest pilot project in Cincinnati, the UFCW International Union has begun floating the model to other locals around the country with the goal of duplicating the model exponentially.

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