Below the Fold:

Mondragon Experience

Paving the way for Richmond Co-ops



Don't Miss:

Building Bridges Between Black and Brown

Fred Jackson

Challenging Chevron's Tax Theft

North Shore Development

Finish for Pt. Molate Casino

Get
RPA Activist Info email newsletter.

Eduardo Martinez
Gayle McLaughlin
Jeff Ritterman
Jovanka Beckles
Fit For Life
Newsletter Archives

Register to Vote(or update Registation)

ISSUES | Jobs

LBNL CHOOSES RICHMOND 

LBNL

1/23/12

 

 

I received a call this morning from Paul Alivasatos, Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, informing me that they have decided to make the Richmond Field Station and the City of Richmond the home for their second campus.

 

I would like to thank the Richmond City Council for their enthusiastic support for this important economic development project, the many City of Richmond staff members who worked to provide technical support in the decision-making process, and the Richmond community for providing the warm welcome mat that was undoubtedly a major factor in their decision.

 

I will provide more details as they become available.  In the meantime, please enjoy this great bit of news and let's look forward to continued success.

 

Bill Lindsay

City Manager

 

 

LBNL MagnetThanks to all who helped make this possible through letters, presentations, your presence at Richmond's rally, and leadership from  Councilmember Jeff Ritterman, Bill Lindsay and the city staff.

See RPA Statement  

 

RPA Welcomes LBNL Campus to Richmond

Green Campus/ Green Jobs for Richmond

 RFS Map

The RPA strongly supports the efforts by the city of Richmond  to promote Richmond as the best place to locate the proposed Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories second campus.
 
We believe that this is an excellent fit.
 
We in Richmond are on the cutting edge of the green economy already.  We have won the Contra Costa sustainability award for the government sector.  We are number 1 in the bay area for solar installed per capita.  We have over 50 core green businesses, dealing with green products and services and countless businesses ‘greening’ their business practices in one way or another.


We have an internationally-renowned green job training program that specializes in training our residents in solar installation, weatherization, and green building practices. 


We have been designated an official ‘Green City’ in California and we are part of the East Bay Green Corridor which has been officially designated as a “hub of green innovation” by the State of California.  We have cutting edge ordinances, policies and initiatives in place and many more to come.


Richmond has excellent connectivity to the region and state through I 80/580 freeways, and BART/AMTRAK The soon to be re-constructed Ohlone Greenway and the Bay Trail offers non-motorized connections with Berkeley. The Bay Trail provides for excellent recreation and access to beautiful shoreline areas. Richmond has created ambitious pedestrian and bicycle plans, which greatly aid mobility and accessibility around Richmond for all modes of travel.


The location of the LBNL in Richmond fits well with our attempt to transform our economy to one based on 21st century jobs and the new green economy.  Not only will it provide direct jobs for construction and operation, but it will provide many indirect jobs though services required, spin offs,  and most importantly,  green oriented businesses choosing to locate nearby, attracted by this research center.


Richmond has informed and engaged residents who are eager to work with the City, LBNL and all other involved parties towards maximizing everyone's benefits from having LBNL located here.  If the Richmond Field Station site is selected, LBNL would have the opportunity to collaborate with Richmond's Southeast Shoreline Community Advisory Group, which has been studying this area of the city for the last six years and is well-equipped to partnering with experts from LBNL in addressing issues of existing toxins at the site.

We believe the commitment of the city to welcome good paying jobs, in a healthy environment, that contribute to protecting the environment and improving the conditions for humanity will be enhanced in this process.


We welcome the LBNL to Richmond.

 

-RPA Steering Committee 2/4/11
-illustration: David Moore

The Mondragon Cooperative Experience -
A Model for Richmond?

Full employment for Richmond will take ideas and action at a number of levels, from demanding that the Federal Government start a major program for rebuilding our infrastructure, to helping small businesses in Richmond, to making Richmond a still more desirable, safer community whichcan atttract new businesses.  One new possibility is promoting co-operative enterprises. The Mondragon coperatives are the most well known. They employ over 100,000 people. Recently they have assisted the Evergreen Co-operative in Cleveland, collaborated with the United Steel Workers in adapting  collective bargaining to the co-op process,  and worked with Austin Polytechnic High School in Chicago,  to prepare students in low-income neighborhoods to start cooperative high tech manufacturing.  In September Gayle attended a conference in Mondragon  (no city funds were used).
 
Gayle at MondragonGayle McLaughlin Reports

Imagine a world where businesses derive their power from the people who work there and capital is used as a tool to serve the people, instead of the other way around, as is the case with conventional corporations. A world of true workplace democracy, where each worker has an equal say in how the business is run. A world where workers pool and leverage their resources to start new businesses and create new jobs. A world where top managers earn no more than 6-7 times the salary of the lowest paid workers and everyone has a secure and decent standard of living. A world where education, training and innovation are abundant. A world without lay-offs.

Mondragon FactoryI had the opportunity to immerse myself in just such a world last week in the Basque region of Spain, where I attended an intensive five-day seminar at the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation, along with 25 worker cooperative enthusiasts and practitioners from all over the US and Korea. The first Mondragon cooperative started 56 years ago with a few people under the visionary guidance of Jose Maria Arizmendiarrieta, and it has grown into an extensive network of 120 industrial, financial, retail and education cooperatives with over 16 billion euros in sales and employing about 100,000 people.

There is a great deal of collaborative and cooperative spirit in Richmond, and numerous residents and City staff have indicated to me their interest in exploring the possibility of starting worker-owned cooperatives here. Given the need to think outside the box in addressing our high unemployment rate, Richmond could provide fertile ground for implementing this model of job creation along with other strategies.

At the conclusion of the seminar, Mondragon's Director of Cooperative Dissemination, Mikel Lezamiz, and I signed a letter of intent and endorsement to pave the way for initiating conversations with stakeholders in Richmond and beyond. I want to share with you what I learned and also hear your ideas. 

Paving the Way for Worker Cooperatives in Richmond

Co-opers
Janeasy, Raymond, Luis and Patricia of Toxic Soil Busters and Youth In Charge youth co-ops chat with Shyaam Shabaka at Richmond's EcoVillage Farm

What if people who need a job got together, pooled their skills, secured funding and technical assistance from a variety of available sources, collaborated with labor unions, and formed democratically run, worker-owned cooperatives?

There are worker co-ops in other parts of the world, nation and Bay Area, and the time is ripe to bring them to Richmond as a worker empowerment-based model of economic development and job creation. Mayor McLaughlin intends to pursue this strategy during her next four years in office. She was invited to attend a seminar in Mondragon, Spain in mid-September to learn about the expansive Mondragon worker-owned cooperatives, which have flourished for over 50 years in what was once an empoverished region with high unemployment.

As a prelude to this seminar, the Mayor asked me to attend on her behalf the annual conference of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, held Berkeley on Aug. 6-8. Numerous workshops and tours of local co-ops were highly informative and inspirational. Of particular relevance to Richmond:

1. One session featured speakers from the Evergreen Cooperative Initiative of Cleveland OH, which was launched in 2008 by a collaboration of foundations, the city, non-profits and the grassroots aiming to stabilize and revitalize low income neighborhoods, and leverage a variety of resources for start-up support. So far, three worker-owned co-ops have been formed: an eco-friendly laundry that has contracts with Cleveland's major hospitals, a solar installation and weatherization company, and a greenhouse operation to provide fresh, local lettuce throughout the frigid mid-West winter. Evergreen founders consulted extensively with co-op practitioners in Mondragon to bring the idea to fruition.

2. Another session focussed on how Labor Unions and Worker Cooperatives can complement each other's efforts to promote shared goals of workplace democracy, economic security for workers, on-going training opportunities, and benefit to the community. A representative of United Steel Workers discussed the collaboration agreement signed by USW and Mondragon last year He currently works for a solar manufacturing plant in Southern California that exports all of its product to Japan, and suggested that workers and unions could start their own businesses producing for the local market. A representative of AFSCME emphasized that resources of unions could be shifted from the adversarial struggles with the bosses to providing technical support for the development of worker-owned co-ops whose members would then join unions. There are numerous co-ops whose worker-owners are already union members, such as Inkworks Press in Berkeley.

3. A high energy session was presented by two young women from Toxic Soil Busters, a youth co-op in Worcester, MA that employs 14-18 year-olds part time doing soil testing and lead remediation with plants and other means in the yards of older low-income neighborhoods. A partner youth co-op, Youth In Charge, does landscaping work on the other side of town, and both operate with support and grant-funding from the non-profit Worcester Roots. After the conference, four youth from Toxic Soil Busters and Youth In Charge paid a visit to Richmond, touring EcoVillage Farm, the RYSE Center and the Mayor's office.

For more information on the background of cooperative movement and the USFWC conference, read the Aug. 3 article in the Berkeley Daily Planet

--Marilyn Langlois

The Richmond area has another introduction to co-ops with the exciting outdoor August 25 performance Posibilidad by the San Francisco Mime Troupe in Richmond's Civic Center Plaza.
Mime Troupe in Richmond

--Photo by Vivien Feyer