PG&E’s Profit Grab: At War Against the People

California's investor-owned utilities are opening up a new front in their power grabbing war against California's energy utility customers -- and that means you. 

In California, profits for these investor-owned utility (IOU) monopolies like PG&E are not determined by how much energy they sell, but by how much they invest in infrastructure (transmission lines, etc.). Their return on these investments is guaranteed by state regulators. It’s no secret that every year, IOUs spend millions of their customers’ money to lobby policymakers in Sacramento to increase energy rates for customers and line the pockets of their shareholders. That’s their business model, and it’s been working out well for them, until now. 

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Solidarity and Stewardship: Addressing Anti-Asian Violence

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California’s rich food culture owes much to the Filipinx, Hmong, Lao, Sikh, and many other Southeast Asian agricultural workers who have stewarded the land for generations. Equally important, Asian agricultural workers up and down the state have farmed and organized alongside Latinx agricultural workers. Mexican and Filipino solidarity is the foundation of California’s agricultural workers rights movement, and for Law Center Staff Attorney Alejandra Cruz, so much more.

Alejandra grew up in California’s Central Valley in a family of agricultural workers that were both Mexican and Filipino. She shares that community care was so strong that “solidarity was in our bones”, which helped her thrive despite economic insecurity and a racist school system. In this blog post, she shares the stories of deep care and solidarity of her childhood community as inspiration for us to move from exploitation to collective ownership to rematriation and liberation.

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Definitions of employee ownership

Olivia Henry

Worker-ownership has emerged as an important strategy to keep people employed, doors open and communities served in the midst of COVID-19. A Rutgers study found that majority employee-owned companies outperformed traditional businesses in job retention, pay, benefits and workplace safety during the pandemic. Local and state governments are developing policies and funds to support this movement: New York City opened an employee-ownership hotline in December 2020 and the City of Santa Clara launched a Worker Cooperative Initiative in January of this year. As of 2019, the Berkeley Revolving Loan Fund can be used to finance worker cooperative conversions, has removed barriers to co-op access and has a minimum 10% lending target worker cooperatives or businesses converting to democratic worker ownership.

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Chrysalis Week

safe peas

The Law Center will be closed for Chrysalis Week from May 3rd - May 7th 2021.

chrys·​a·​lis | \ ˈkri-sə-ləs
a protecting covering also
: a sheltered state or stage of being or growth

The Law Center is taking a week off to re-energize and re-center ourselves as we go through a period of rapid growth and expansion. Although spring season is known as a time of blossoming, it is also an important time for renewal. We continue to learn from the wisdom of seasons by attuning to cycles of growth and rest.

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Mutual aid continues to serve communities, but can be taxed by the government

By: Samantha Greyson, The Daily Texan

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Excerpt: Charlotte Tsui, staff attorney for the Sustainable Economies Law Center, said a mutual aid fund is the final recipient of the gift donation, but it can be characterized as a gift agent for tax purposes and act as a means to transfer gifts from donors to people in need.

Read full article here.

(Originally published March 4, 2021.)

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Webinar Resources: Subchapter T & How Money Flows Through a Cooperative

Subchapter T & How Money Flows Through a Cooperative

On March 11th, 2021, our Director of Economic Democracy, Ricardo Nuñez, and SELC Staff Attorney, Gregory Jackson, provided an introduction to the powerful ways that worker cooperatives equitably distribute wealth and why it matters for your cooperative’s taxes! Below, you'll find the recording and follow up resources that we shared with attendees.

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March 2021 Newsletter: Breath and budding life

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Think Outside the Boss: Reflections of a newbie self-directed worker

Think Outside the Boss blog series

I look in the mirror and nervously adjust my hair, trying not to look too rigid. Opening my laptop, I take a deep breath before clicking the Zoom link to my first General Circle Meeting at Sustainable Economies Law Center. I’m just a few weeks into my new job. I’m nervous and excited to join the first gathering where I’ll be “meeting” all my new colleagues in one place.

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Black Future of the solidarity economy...and we’re hiring! (February Newsletter)

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In the U.S., we celebrate Black History in February. Black history is vital to the ongoing project that is American democracy.  “We have helped the country live up to its founding ideals”, writes 1619 Project journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. We celebrate local legends like Dennis Terry, filmmaker and co-founder of Mandela Foods Cooperative (1950 - 2020), who dedicated his life to supporting Bay Area cooperatives, publicizing grassroots economic activity and documenting the stories of Black Farmers. We celebrate American giants like anti-capitalist Ella Baker, who co-founded the Young Negroes Cooperative League to invigorate Black buying clubs and grow Black economic power autonomy; and Fannie Lou Hamer, who founded Freedom Farm Cooperative, a grassroots self-help effort to organize and feed as many Black families as she could. 

For the Movement for Black Lives, February is Black Futures Month. Inspired by this visionary framing, we’re shining light on Black folks in our community who’re doing the work to make a better future for us all, right now. They are our mentors, advisors, collaborators, and colleagues.

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Webinar Resources: Raising Cooperative Capital

raising cooperative capital for California worker cooperatives!

On February 4th, 2021, our Director of Economic Democracy, Ricardo Nuñez, provided a brief orientation for worker cooperatives and their supporters to the considerations around raising cooperative capital in California. Below, you'll find the recording and follow up resources that we shared with attendees.

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Private Property is A Fictitious Notion

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Hi! My name is adélàjà simon from the Law Center’s Radical Real Estate Law school. I am Ayisyen and Yorùbá born in the U.S. Recently, during some time spent on the east coast where I grew up, I was able to be in conversation with my mother about the only home that she knew growing up in Ayiti in a small town in the southwest near Baraderes. My mother is my grandfather’s first born child and with his lack of support for his children plus her having lived in the U.S. for so long, there has been fear that she might try and claim ownership of the land. Neither of us thought that we would be able to see it or visit it because of some of those dynamics, but an opportunity for re-connection with some family has reopened that possibility. As we engaged in this conversation, further fleshing out the details of this family drama, I found myself thinking about the untended graves in the back of the house where my Great Great grandparents were buried. I did not have the opportunity to even meet two of my grandparents, let alone Great grandparents before they passed away.

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Webinar Resources: CA Entity Options for Worker Cooperatives

CA entity options for worker cooperatives with Ricardo and Kieron

On January 25th, 2021, our Director of Economic Democracy, Ricardo Nuñez, provided an introduction to what legal entities are and the pros and cons of choosing one legal entity over another for California based worker cooperatives. Below, you'll find the recording and follow up resources that we shared with attendees.

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January 2021 Newsletter: Meeting chaos with determination

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We’ve made it to a new year, bringing hard earned wisdom from 2020.  One insight Law Center staff are holding tightly: Life will never go back to “normal” and this moment is our window of opportunity. As world leaders fumble and traditional power structures fail, space for new ideas and new systems is made possible. We’re stepping up, ready to help shape a more just world. The Law Center is ever more committed to 
banning land grabshelping grow cooperative ecosystemssupporting mutual aid effortsstaying attuned to the emergent needs of our community, and much more. So much is uncertain; but we’re facing our work with determination, grounded in solidarity. 

How to remain calm as we move deeper into The Great Turning?  A favorite grounding practice at the Law Center is reading! Here's a list of a few of our favorite books from last year. These books inspired us, fed our spirits, and even made us laugh.

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Our Favorite Reads of 2020

How to remain calm as we move into a new year, deeper into The Great Turning?  A favorite grounding practice at the Law Center is reading! Below is a list of a few of our favorite books from 2020. These books inspired us, fed our spirits, and even made us laugh.

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December 2020 Newsletter: 2020 Annual Report

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Remember when the pandemic first started? So many of us in the solidarity economy movement were excited to explore and share alternatives to our current extractive and exploitative system. Mutual aid projects popped up all over the United States. We saw 
pictures of empty freeways under clear blue skies. We put a halt on evictions and foreclosures. Boxes of masks and other medical supplies were sent from Japan to China and then from China to Italy. And those masks came with poems!

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