The Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy (ECWD): Contemporary Crisis, Recuperated Workplaces and Self-Management

June 11, 2017 11:40 am – 1:10 pm

Workplace occupations in order to produce are mainly known because of the take-overs around the Argentinian crisis 2000-2001. At the end of 2015 there were 360 recuperated enterprises in Argentina, 69 in Brazil, two dozen in Uruguay and about 100 in Venezuela. A few cases are also known from Mexico, Indonesia and India. With the contemporary crisis recuperations picked up again, especially in Argentina with 50 new recuperations since 2009. And they spread to the North, with at least six recuperated enterprises in Europe and one in the US. The recuperations have to be seen more as a social process than an economic process, they have become a space in which new social relations are developed based on affect, reliability, mutual help, solidarity among the participants and with others, participation and equality. Therefore the recuperated enterprises are not only a way to gain back initiative in a defensive situation, but also a glimpse what a future alternative society could look like. The recuperations build ties with close by neighbourhoods, interact with different subjectivities and develop joint initiatives. Connections with social movements and social and political organizations are built, as well as with workers in different sectors. The recuperated enterprises inspire each other and connect through the global network of the Encounters for a Workers’ Economy and which bring together workers and researchers. My talk will give an overview about the workplace recuperations during the current crisis.

Brendan Martin

Brendan Martin is founder and director of The Working World, a cooperative financial institution and business incubator based in Argentina, Nicaragua, and the United States. Brendan originally moved to Argentina in 2004 to work with a group of Argentines looking to support the “recovered factory” phenomenon, and out of this was born The Working World financial institution and its methods of non-extractive finance and just-in-time “evergreen” credit. Despite dire predictions of investing in the chaotic groundswell that was the recovered factory movement, The Working World achieved a 98% return rate across over 715 loans, and all with repayments only from profit sharing and without guarantees. This experience demonstrated both that grassroots cooperative movements can be economically viable and that finance can be non-extractive and subservient to people yet still be solvent. After this success, Brendan helped open a second branch in Nicaragua in 2009, and another in the United States in 2012. The same grassroots cooperative efforts and have proven effective and provocative in the context of the US, where The Working World has already funded twenty cooperatives, including New Era Windows, the manufacturing cooperative that emerged from the infamous Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago. Brendan is a 2009 Ashoka fellow, a two time Ashoka Globalizer, a 2016 BALLE Local Economy Fellow, a nominated Prime Mover, and a frequent speaker on the solidarity and cooperative economy.

Dario Azzellini

Dario Azzellini, professor, researcher and documentary director, holds a PhD in political science and a PhD in sociology. His research and writing focuses on democracy, worker’s and local self-management, and social movements. He published several books, journal articles and documentaries. His latest book is Communes and Workers’ Control in Venezuela: Building 21st Century Socialism from Below (Brill 2017) and he co-authored They Can’t Represent Us. Reinventing Democracy From Greece to Occupy (Verso 2014). He is co-editor of Ours to Master and to Own: Worker Control from the Commune to the Present (Haymarket 2011) and the editor of An Alternative Labour History: Worker Control and Workplace Democracy (Zed Books 2015). Azzellini is a founding member of As documentary filmmaker he has been filming in Latin America and Europe. Together with Oliver Ressler he is producing Occupy, Resist, Produce, a series of documentaries on recuperated factories under workers control in Europe. More information: Contact:
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