March 19, 2015
Yesterday, March 18th, Mayor Bill De Blasio signed five pieces of legislation into law, among them, Intro 423-A. This new law requires the Department of Small Businesses Services and the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services to report on the number of contracts awarded to worker owned cooperatives and the amount of worker owned cooperatives that are receiving assistance from the city.
“We are excited because this is really the opening the door to a new way of doing business, it is a sign from the administration that they are serious about supporting an economy that puts communities and people first.” says Omar Freilla, founder and coordinator of Green Worker Cooperatives.
In the 12 years that Green Worker Cooperatives has been developing worker owned cooperatives in New York City, this is the first Mayor that has been invested in prioritizing worker ownership.
“Members of our cooperatives don’t hob knob with the rich and famous, they are not well connected, we are just regular people who deserve an opportunity to be able to show that we can do the job.” says Ana Escalante, a worker owner at Bio Classic Cleaning Cooperative.
The New York Worker Cooperative Coalition, a coalition of organizations that cultivate worker owned businesses has been working to make this a reality since fall 2013. Over a year ago, the group joined forces with Bronx Council Member Maria del Carmen Arroyo, who has since played a key role in rallying the rest of the New York City Council in support of worker-owned cooperative development. Other co-prime sponsors of this bill include, Council Members Helen Rosenthal and Carlos Menchaca.
In addition to Green Worker Cooperatives, NY Worker Cooperative Coalition members that particularly impacted the legislation were Center for Family Life, Democracy at Work Institute, the Working World, New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Make the Road New York, Urban Justice Center, and CUNY School of Law.
Green Worker Cooperatives is dedicated to incubating worker-owned green businesses in order to build a strong local economy rooted in democracy and environmental justice. For more information www.greenworker.coop