Policy Teams

Flipping the Script:

A New Way to Make Policy

In 2017, the Sustainable Economies Law Center convened a group of worker owners in response to a dire situation for California worker cooperatives: A workers’ compensation bill (AB 2883) threatened to force worker cooperatives to spend thousands of dollars, and in some cases over a hundred thousand dollars more per year to comply with proposed rules that were drawn up without worker cooperatives in mind.

All we could think was:


Here was yet another uninformed policy proposal poised to harm worker cooperatives, and the most frustrating part was that the policymakers behind it weren't even intending to impact worker cooperatives. 

In response to this emergency, a small group of worker owners came together to form the inaugural California Worker Cooperative Policy Brigade. They lobbied legislators to exempt worker coops from AB 2883’s onerous workers’ compensation requirement (see story here), and demonstrated loud and clear that:


“Everyone is a policymaker!” means the we are the experts we’ve been looking for. It means that those who are most affected by an issue are in the best position to create smart, sustainable, and just policy solutions.

The Worker Cooperative Policy Brigade affirmed that the most powerful policy is:



And it doesn’t look like this...



…it looks like THIS:



Policymakers can and should be everyday people, not just lawyers, policy school graduates, and elected officials.

That’s why we continue to test and promote the Policy Team model as a way to empower and engage everyone in the exciting world of policymaking.

We don’t need to wait for the experts to act, WE are the experts!


2018 Worker Cooperative Policy Brigade

Advocating for Local Worker Cooperative Development in Berkeley and Oakland

Follow this year’s Brigade by RSVP’ing on this page. You’ll receive important updates and organizing announcements about the Brigade’s work to pass a Berkeley Ordinance Supporting Worker Cooperatives! The 2018 Brigade is powered by members of the Arizmendi Cooperative, Mandela Foods Cooperative, CoLab Cooperative, DIG Coop, Mariposa Gardening, Drought Smart, and the Los Angeles Union Cooperative Initiative. Meet them at Berkeley City Hall to add your voice!

2017 Policy Team Success Story!

Sacramento_Coop_Policy_Brigade_Capital_2.jpgWorker Cooperative Policy Group Successfully Passes New Law

In November 2017, a team of worker cooperative members, stewarded by the Sustainable Economies Law Center, successfully amended California State's worker's compensation law in favor of worker cooperatives. The law, SB 189, includes a provision that allows cooperatives to claim exemption from workers' compensation requirements under certain conditions. 

The cooperative exemption in SB 189 was crafted with significant input from a group of worker cooperative members who responded to a workers’ compensation campaign call put out by the Sustainable Economies Law Center. Participants of the policy working group came from seven different worker cooperatives, including The Cheese Board, Drought Smart Cooperative, Niles Pie Company, Three Stone Hearth, Arizmendi Bakery, Home Green Home, and Echo Adventure Team.  

Read more details here


Policy Teams consist of: 

  • 5-10 team members, a majority of whom are stakeholders directly affected by the proposed law. For example, if we are to advocate for a law affecting chicken farms, most of the team members must be chicken farmers. 
  • 1-3 staff or volunteers from the Law Center.

Team members commit to:

  • A 12 month program. 
  • Attend one team meeting per month in person or virtually, in order to plan and strategize.
  • A clear decision-making process.
  • Respond in a timely manner to request to approve changes to the law.
  • Work closely with the impacted community and incorporate input from stakeholders outside of the team.
  • Travel 1-3 times to meet with legislators or attend hearings.

The Law Center provides:

  • Assistance with legal research and legislative drafting.
  • Project coordination, facilitation, and hosting of team meetings.
  • Strategy support.
  • At least 5 short trainings about "Do-It-Yourself" Policymaking Basics, Finding Policy Windows, the CA Legislative Process, and other essential topics. 

Thanks to our Partners and Collaborators: