January 25, 2019
BERKELEY, CA — In what the Bay Area worker cooperative community considers a milestone moment for the movement, the Berkeley City Council is slated to discuss the Office of Economic Development’s (OED) efforts to support worker-owned cooperative businesses and related recommendations by the Sustainable Economies Law Center. Among the recommendations is a proposal to make Berkeley the first city in the nation to commit to providing city procurement incentives to worker cooperatives and to tailor its revolving loan fund to the needs of worker cooperatives and businesses converting to cooperative ownership.
On Tuesday, February 26, Berkeley OED staff will present its worker cooperative program suggestions at a Berkeley City Council meeting. At the meeting, Berkeley council members will have the opportunity to push for bolder commitments, such as additional benchmarks, further study, or for staff to return to Council with supplemental reporting. Organizers expect that 50-100 members of the worker cooperative community will be in attendance at the Council meeting to show support for the worker cooperative proposal.
Due to the leadership of Mayor Jesse Arreguin and Office of Economic Development staff, Berkeley has already embarked on making the Small Business Revolving Loan Fund more accessible to worker cooperatives, providing business development support to worker coops, and helping retiring business owners to sell their enterprise to workers.
“The City of Berkeley is already committed to supporting worker cooperative development, and it is a Bay Area vanguard in that respect,” explained Yassi Eskandari, Policy Director and Staff Attorney at the Sustainable Economies Law Center. “Berkeley leadership sees worker coops as a way to preserve the city’s unique character and local jobs, as well as a way to close the wealth gap and empower workers. We hope that by taking action, Berkeley will inspire neighboring cities to follow suit. The City of Oakland has already expressed a willingness to take action, which has been a long time in the making.”
To learn more and receive updates, RSVP for the February 26 Berkeley City Council meeting at https://www.theselc.org/berkeley_worker_coop_meeting_feb.
Press contact: Charlotte Tsui at firstname.lastname@example.org.