The NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives is dedicated to sharing and cultivating the educational, financial and technical resources of its members and supporting the growth of worker cooperatives for social and economic justice. We offer assistance to existing and new worker cooperatives in all communities within the New York City metropolitan area, with a focus on the development of cooperatives within marginalized communities.
The New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives was founded by a community of local worker-members, labor organizers, developers, lawyers, and academics on December 18, 2009 during the 5th Annual Sister Mary Geraldine Symposium, entitled “Fair Work: Building and Strengthening Ties within the Worker-Owner Cooperative Community in New York City.” The symposium was organized by the Center for Family Life in Sunset Park and hosted at the CUNY Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies. Sitting in a large circle, over 50 individuals and organizations voted unanimously to establish a new organization dedicated to promoting worker cooperatives in New York City.
Founding organizations included the Center for Family Life in Sunset Park, Green Worker Cooperatives, the Community Development Project of Urban Justice Center, Fordham Law School, National Domestic Workers Alliance, LSA Family Health Service (“The Little Sisters”), Workers Justice Project––and worker cooperatives Cooperative Home Care Associates, Sí Se Puede, Beyond Care, COLORS, The Sharing Place, and Third Root Community Health Center.
Over the ensuing two years, NYC NOWC engaged in regular monthly meetings—conducted in English and Spanish—at community venues across Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, lower Manhattan, and upper Manhattan. Open and highly participatory, everyone was welcome to “voice and vote” at these founding meetings. Over the summer of 2011, the group decided to formalize by adopting an official website, affiliating with the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives, and establishing a board structure. In March 2014, the board incorporated as a membership not-for-profit business association—and formalized its membership structure to further align with the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives. In December 2014, the IRS awarded NYC NOWC with its 501(c)(6) tax-exempt status.
Since its founding in 2009, NYC NOWC has primarily served as a co-marketing service for all of New York City’s worker cooperative businesses—and to promote visibility and understanding of workplace democracy as a principle of corporate governance. Over the last several years, NYC NOWC has also engaged in lobbying at the city and state level—to establish public funding for worker cooperative business development and to pass legislation for the worker cooperative business community. In addition, NYC NOWC organizes the annual NYC Worker Cooperative Conference.
Throughout its five-year history, NYC NOWC has been an entirely volunteer-run organization. Recently, thanks to funding from New York City Council, NYC NOWC has been able to provide additional direct services to worker cooperatives in New York City—with a special focus on engaging worker cooperative service providers to provide marketing, website, bookkeeping, and digital media services to the NYC worker cooperative business community. Finally, NYC NOWC also provides pro bono legal services to NYC’s worker cooperative businesses.