‘Radical Real Estate Law School’ is in session

By: Natalie Orenstein, The Oaklandside

Excerpt: The program is offered through the Sustainable Economies Law Center in downtown Oakland, one of the handful of organizations taking advantage of a little-known rule in California and a few other states allowing people to take the bar exam without first obtaining a traditional law school degree. Instead, apprentices study and work directly with practicing lawyers for four years, saving money and boosting their host organization’s workforce.

For Hernandez, becoming a lawyer through an unconventional method made sense. She’d come in direct contact with housing law herself, through unconventional living situations.

Five years ago, Hernandez’s family was evicted from a home they rented in Oakland’s Maxwell Park neighborhood. Unable to afford anything they found on Craigslist, Hernandez, her husband, and their four children piled into the car and went looking for buildings with “for rent” signs in the windows.

Read the full article here.

(Originally published July 30, 2020.)

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A Quiet Workplace Revolution in the Shadow of Silicon Valley

By: Vanessa Bee, The New Republic

Excerpt: The location of the daycare may have had something to do with this sense of possibility: The Bay Area boasts one of the highest concentrations of worker co-ops in the United States. Though California has a relatively friendly regime of laws, advocacy groups have pushed for simplifying the formation process for pure worker co-ops and hybrids co-owned by consumers and workers. One recent effort culminated in the passage of Assembly Bill 816, a statute that eases fundraising and defines worker co-ops clearly, so the label isn’t claimed without the matching structures in place.

Municipalities in the Bay Area have also experimented with providing support. In 2012, after its mayor visited the town of Mondragon, Richmond piloted a one-year fund of $50,000 to make loans to worker co-ops. Three years later, Oakland passed a resolution [A note from SELC: click here to read our press release about the Oakland Resolution!] pledging to “provide tailored resources created by community organizations and make referrals to technical assistance providers” for potential worker co-ops. So far, however, one of the most concrete commitments has come from Berkeley, which pledged $100,000 to support worker co-ops. Meanwhile, San Francisco is partnering with the Bay Area–based nonprofit Project Equity to encourage private owners to transfer their small businesses to employees rather than close.

Read the full article here.

(Originally published June 3, 2020.)

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East Oakland Grocery Cooperative, a homegrown market for and by Black and brown folks

By Cirrus Wood, Oaklandside

East Oakland Grocery Cooperative founding cohort members (from top left) Demetrius El Gant, James Hudson, Erin Higgenbotham, Crsna Cox, Yolanda Romo, Jameelah Lane and Daniel Harris-Lucas with EOGC project manager (front right) Ayano Jeffers-Fabro of the East Oakland Grocery Cooperative.

Excerpt: The East Oakland Grocery Cooperative(EOGC) is a Black and POC-led, community-developed initiative that aims to provide fresh, local, healthy and culturally relevant foods, as well as job opportunities, to East Oakland residents. The point is not only to diversify neighborhood food offerings, but also to localize and build economic resilience among the area’s Black and POC communities...

At present the seven members are engaged in a 12-week training program at Mandela Grocery Cooperative, which is serving in an advisory capacity, along with Repaired Nations, an organization focused on building wealth and resilience within Black communities.

Read the full article here.

(Originally published June 24, 2020.)

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California Employee Ownership Alliance Proposes $10M Recovery Package

By Karen Kahn, Fifty by Fifty

Excerpt: The Worker-Owned Recovery California (WORC) Coalition is advocating for California’s state legislature to include $10 million in the state budget to support education, technical assistance, and forgivable loans to businesses that transition to worker ownership...The state legislature will be voting on the budget on June 15. WORC is urging Californians to support the campaign and the budget request by contacting their legislators.

The WORC Coalition includes Sustainable Economies Law Center, U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, Democracy at Work Institute, California Center for Cooperative Development, Project Equity, Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights of SF Bay Area, Certified Employee Owned, and the worker cooperative A Slice of New York.

Read the full article here.

(Originally published on June 11, 2020.)


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Where next after Covid-19?A co-operative outlook in the USA

By Chad Small, CoopNews


Excerpt: Jay Cumberland, Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by the eBay Foundation and attorney with theSustainable Economies Law Center(SELC), says interest in co-ops grew prior to the pandemic. This was in response to concerns about business succession as a ‘silver tsunami’ small business owners near retirement. But this framing of co-op interest is limited because it primarily focuses on positive employee-owner relationships – while, in many ways, worker discontent during the pandemic highlights the pervasiveness of contentious labour-owner relations. 

Read the full article here.

(Originally published May 28, 2020.) 

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"The Dirtiest Word" documentary, feat. the Law Center's Ricardo Nuñez

Check out the Law Center's Director of Economic Democracy, Ricardo S. Nuñez, in the documentary trailer for The Dirtiest Word (formerly "Socialism: An American Story")! He is quoted starting at the 1:53 mark, "More voice for the workers actually benefits the company."

Watch the trailer on Facebook or Vimeo

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Pandemic Crash Shows Worker Co-ops Are More Resilient Than Traditional Business

By Brian Van Slyke, TruthOut

A person walks past a closed business in Brooklyn on April 23, 2020, in New York City.

Excerpt: “In fact, as documented by the Sustainable Economies Law Center, there is a growing body of evidence that shows across the world, cooperatives in general are a more resilient business model.”

Read the full article here.

(Originally published May 8, 2020.)

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Mutual Aid In The Wake Of COVID 19 by Renegade Paradise • A podcast on Anchor

Check out the latest episode of Renegade Paradise from Charleston Democratic Socialists of America, where the Law Center's own Chris Tittle discusses mutual aid, disaster capitalism, and organizing in the South during COVID-19 with Mutual Aid Disaster Relief!

Background: As the COVID 19 global pandemic continues, we discuss the importance of building and participating in mutual aid organizations with a comrade from Mutual Aid Disaster relief. Conversation topics include participating in hurricane relief efforts in Lumberton with Charleston DSA after Hurricane Florence hit in 2018, how climate disaster relief compares to (and has a lot in common with) the COVID 19 pandemic, how different populations are affected by natural and manmade disasters, and how it is critical for the left to get involved with mutual aid projects in order to achieve a broader goal of the complete transformation of our economy and society. Mutual Aid Disaster Relief is a grassroots disaster relief network based on the principles of solidarity, mutual aid, and autonomous direct action. Inspired by similar programs run by the Black Panthers during the 60s, the group encompasses a loosely-connected national network of activists from many different disciplines organizing around supporting survivors of natural disasters. 

Listen to the full podcast here.

(Originally released on April 17, 2020.)

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The Plague of Worker Expendability with Sabiha Basrai and Ricardo Nuñez

The Plague Podcast with L.M. Bogad

Excerpt: In this episode, we speak with guests Sabiha Basrai and Ricardo Nuñez about the plague of worker expendability in our current economy, and how worker owned-cooperatives are the cure. The coronavirus has only put into starker relief a problem we have always had--that the lives and well-being of many workers are considered disposable by the CEOs and shareholders of their employing corporations. So, how do worker-owned cooperatives give workers shared opportunity, rewarding careers, and the ability to make a living without cutthroat competition with each other? And how, in practical and legal terms, can folks start a cooperative for themselves?

Listen to the full podcast here.

(Originally published on May 13, 2020.)

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Now Is the Time to Take Radical Steps Toward Housing Equity

The Law Center's very own Chris Tittle was recently published in YES! magazine, where he proposes new frameworks for social housing. Check out the excerpt below or the full article here!

Excerpt: It’s time to think big about housing. No more evictions and foreclosures. Rent and mortgage cancellation on a grand scale. Twelve million new green housing units in the next 10 years. A massive reinvestment in housing under public control, resident control, and community control. Rent freezes, rent control, tenant protections, and anti-displacement measures across the nation.

Read the full article here.

(Originally published on May 6, 2020.)

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