Legislature Passes AB 234

Last Friday the California State Legislature passed AB 234 - a bill to improve the law affecting "community food producers" and gleaners who provide fresh fruits and vegetables to people in California.

You can read more about the bill and legal background in our previous Food News Blog post here.

The bill is now on the Governor's desk awaiting his signature or veto. This is the last step in the lawmaking process. We will know by October 11 whether this bill will become law effective January 1, 2016. We think that it is very likely that the Governor will sign the bill. We will write a follow-up post after the Governor announces what he has decided to do with the bill.

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Changing Laws Affecting Community Food Producers

Christina_Oatfield_Food_News_blog_photo.jpgAt the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) we frequently run up against the challenge of agricultural and food safety laws that are not designed with the local food movement in mind. So many of these laws are clearly designed to facilitate a food system comprised of long distribution chains catering to very large enterprises. The idea of direct, farmer-to-consumer transactions is sometimes just not contemplated as a real possibility by the law.

We at SELC believe that agricultural regulations should be more risk-appropriate and scale-appropriate in order to remove unnecessary barriers to small-scale sustainable farming, community-supported enterprises, farmer-to-consumer sales, and local food consumption generally. That's why we have advocated for laws such as the California Homemade Food Act and the Neighborhood Food Act, and supported local initiatives to legalize urban agriculture, among our many policy campaigns.

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Oakland Passes Resolution in Support of Worker Cooperatives

OAKLAND, CA (September 8, 2015) — The day after Labor Day, Oakland City Council made a bold proclamation in support of democratic and equitable workplaces, passing the “Resolution Supporting the Development of Worker Cooperatives In Oakland.” The Sustainable Economies Law Center championed this resolution in partnership with District 4 Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington, Council President and District 3 Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney, and many organizational partners and allies.

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Oakland City Council Looks to Provide Support for Worker Cooperatives

east_bay_express.png  By: Melissa Wen
  (Originally published September 3, 2015)

"The Oakland City Council is considering a resolution to support an unconventional business model that some say can help fight income inequality in the East Bay. The resolution, which the council will review at its September 8 meeting, is aimed at encouraging the development of worker cooperatives, which are businesses that are owned and governed by employees, meaning workers share profits and tend to make above-average wages. 

"The Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC), an Oakland-based nonprofit that worked with Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington on the resolution, said the measure is largely symbolic but hopes it will be a precursor to the passage of more concrete reforms that would incentivize the growth of these businesses in the city."

Read the full article on eastbayexpress.com

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Oakland set to be a leader in workplace cooperatives

Oakland_Tribune.png

 By: Sara Stephens
(Originally published August 31, 2015)

"On Sept. 8, community members will pack Oakland City Hall to celebrate the City Council's groundbreaking resolution to support worker cooperatives as a powerful tool for economic development and democratic, empowering workplaces. The resolution will recognize the benefits that worker cooperatives bring to local economies, especially to Oakland, which is a national hub for such enterprises.

"Oakland will be one of the first cities in the country to integrate tailored support for worker cooperatives into its business assistance center.

"This resolution is a first step toward a broader worker cooperative development strategy. Following this event, the Sustainable Economies Law Center and partner organizations will work with Councilwoman Annie Campbell Washington and others in the city to pass an ordinance that creates meaningful incentives and investment in worker cooperatives."

Read the full article on insidebayarea.com

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Governor Brown Signs California Worker Cooperative Act, AB 816

(Oakland, CA) – Governor Brown announced today that he signed a bill into law to facilitate the creation of worker-owned cooperative businesses in California. The new law, Assembly Bill 816, will remove unnecessary barriers to the creation of new worker cooperatives in California and improve operations for some existing worker cooperatives.

 

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Changing Cities: Coops, Climate Resilience, and more!

Did you know that Oakland, California is emerging as a pilot city for more just and resilient communities? We believe cities are a strategic place to drive change, so we've been getting our hands dirty in our own backyard to test some ideas. SELC has been helping Oakland lead the way in supporting worker cooperatives and seed sharing, addressing climate change, promoting economic development without displacement, and removing obstacles for mobile food vending. Here's what we're working on in Oakland.

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Food Bikes

The Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) has been delighted to host Berkeley Food Institute summer fellow John Romankiewicz, who is looking at the barriers to entering the mobile food business, with a particular focus on food bikes! What’s a food bike you ask? It’s a low-footprint, low-capital alternative to a food truck. If you’ve ever traveled around Asia or Latin America, you know that most “street food” is peddled by cart or bicycle as opposed to food trucks. Some examples of local food businesses getting around the East Bay by bicycle include Bicycle Coffee, El Taco Bike, and Curbside Creamery (left to right, below).

 

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The Worker Coop Act Needs Your Support!

Part of the team that attended committee hearings in Sacramentoto advocate for workplace democracy!

We've come down to the wire!

The 2015 Worker Coop Act passed out of the California Assembly with bi-partisan support and passed out of the California Senate 39 votes to zero! Now it goes to Governor Brown's desk for his signature. BUT, there is still a chance that Governor Jerry Brown won't sign the Worker Coop Act. 

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Summer Solidarity: Policy progress, people power (and alliteration!)

After our month-long #PeoplePoweredEconomies campaign, the results are in: you rock! We continue to be motivated by a sense of both urgency and opportunity to create people powered economies everywhere, and YOU give us the inspiration and support we need to make that happen. This is what a People Powered SELC looks like:

  • Over 150 donors during the month of May
  • 50 new Community Members
  • Over $20,000 pledged
  • Hundreds of dollars raised for our allies Richmond Grows Seed Library (Richmond, CA), Cooperation Jackson (Jackson, MS), and Phat Beets Produce (Oakland, CA)
  • Oh yeah, and this…
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Oakland City Council Greenlights “Equity Checklist;” Adopts OCAC’s PCA Recommendations

Yassi_and_OCAC_PCA_commitee_Oakland_City_Hall_6_17_15.jpgSELC's City Policies Director, Yassi Eskandari, has helped lead the Oakland Climate Action Coalition (OCAC) to success in an eight-month planning process for Oakland's new Priority Conservation Areas. Read more about PCAs and the Coalition's wins.

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At Airbnb, growth brings scrutiny, regulation

By: Tim Logan, LA TimesLatimes-logo.gif
(Originally published June 10, 2015)

"Airbnb profits from transactions," said Yassi Eskandari-Qajar, city policies program director at the Sustainable Economies Law Center in Oakland. "There's no incentive for them to put limits on how many people can do this, how much they can charge or how many homes they list."

But, she notes, Airbnb is mindful of political pressure. And when pushed, it has agreed to changes.

Read the full article on latimes.com

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Worker Coop Academy Testimonials

The deadline is approaching to apply for this year’s Worker Coop Academy (WCA)!

15813643288_caef109d89_z.jpgThe Academy is an intensive 14 week course that provides entrepreneurs, business owners, and economic development organizations the tools they need to build, strengthen, or convert to a worker owned business. The Academy also provides participants one-on-one business and legal consultations. You can find more information at theselc.org/wca_apply and watch our recorded info session here.

We are accepting applications through June 14th, which is less than a week away! Applications are submitted through an online form and it is free to apply.

Would the Worker Coop Academy be a good fit for your business? Look here to learn more and hear what last year’s participants gained from the experience!

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Workplace Democracy in Nonprofit Organizations

At our favorite local worker-owned cafe, Alchemy Collective Cafe in Berkeley, we recently asked the question:

What do you get when you cross a worker cooperative with a 501(c)(3) nonprofit?

A worker self-directed nonprofit! We've started defining this as an organization in which all workers have the power to influence the realms and programs in which they work, the conditions of their workplace, their own career paths, and the direction of the organization as a whole.

Watch the webinar “Worker Self Directed Nonprofits: Implementing Workplace Democracy in Nonprofit Organizations"

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CA Worker Coop Act Advances!

SACRAMENTO, CA—On May 22, the California State Assembly passed AB816, a major step toward making California the twelfth state to establish a legal form specifically for worker cooperatives. This campaign is building on the momentum of worker cooperative policy initiatives happening throughout the country—including a $1.2 million dollar funding initiative in New York City last summer—as the cooperative business form gains recognition as a powerful tool for economic revitalization.

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