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Episode 7: Can Networks of Worker Cooperatives Reduce Economic Inequality?

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Summary

The world of employee ownership is made up of a vast array of stories, experiences, and journeys. Within this diversity, there are certainly differences, but also, in our view, an overriding commonality - broadened ownership of productive assets is good for employees, the businesses they work for, and the economy at large. In this episode we sit down with Kristen Barker of Co-op Cincy and Michael Peck of 1Worker 1Vote, to talk about how they are working to create a network of worker cooperatives with the aim of decreasing economic inequality and generating individual and community wealth.

Guest Bios

Kristen Barker

Kristen is a social entrepreneur and the President and Co-Founder of Co-op Cincy and is a Co-Founder of 1worker1vote.  She designs and leads participatory education events with English- and Spanish-speaking co-op workers, and helps worker-owners make their businesses more successful. Kristen also helps our design team determine the feasibility of potential co-op businesses, helps retiring business owners determine whether they can sell their business to their employees, and helps viable co-ops access the capital they need to leverage their ideas.

Kristen has done groundbreaking work in adopting the Mondragon model to the U.S. context, and hosts delegations from around the country, including the participants in our semi-annual Union Co-op Symposium. Kristen is a 2016-2018 Business Alliance for Local and Living Economies (BALLE) Fellow.

Before becoming CUCI’s Executive Director, she worked for 12 years fostering partnerships between people of faith, union members, and community members of diverse backgrounds

Michael Peck

Michael Alden Peck is part of a team co-launching the People’s Rising Sunshine Exchange (PRSE) – a digital platform for micro PPE purchases on behalf of frontline healthcare, homecare and emergency response workers - helping to save lives at risk of those saving others.  Earlier this year,  Michael co-founded The Virtuous Cycle Collaboratory, a majority-minority, for-profit worker-cooperative based in Alexandria/Virginia, that designs, launches and scales social enterprise ecosystems  for the emerging Stakeholder Economy.  In 2015, Michael co-founded and serves as the executive director of the non-profit 1Worker 1Vote  which aims to create and connect ecosystems that support the development of union co-ops. Michael served  as the International Delegate (USA) for the Mondragón Co-operative Corporation (1999 –2019),board secretary  of the American Sustainable Business Council, corporate advisory board member for the Blue Green Alliance. He also serves as a co-founding (2019) board member of Citizens’ Share Brooklyn, and starting this year chairs the worX printing cooperative board.  

Previously, Michael founded and led the MAPA Group consultancy (1994-2019) outlining a recognized triangular business development approach to the “Iberoamerican Marketplace” involving cross-border commercial opportunities between the Iberian Peninsula (mostly Spain), Latin America Caribbean (LAC) and the United States.   Prior to founding his first company, Michael served as a naval officer on active duty overseas from 1976 - 83, and completed twenty years of service as a Commander in the Naval Reserves in 1996. Michael then served as a defense and economic development legislative assistant to the U.S. Senate Majority Leader (1984-86), as executive assistant to the President of the BDM Corporation, and as a senior vice president for corporate business development at SAIC (1988-94), then the nation’s largest employee-owned, applied R&D company.  Michael holds degrees from Rice University and the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies(SAIS), and studied at the Sorbonne and the Institute of Political Science in Paris, France.”

About the Podcast

The Owners at Work Podcast is a continuation of the biannual Owners at Work Newsletter which ran for 19 years (1990-2019). We are hoping to continue the same conversations and focus on providing updates on everything employee ownership. We plan to interview practitioners with expertise in different facets of employee ownership, academics doing new and interesting research, and most importantly, individuals who have a personal experience with employee ownership, including current and former employee-owners, mid-level to C suite management, and selling owners.

We Want to talk to YOU!

We want to produce a show that engages with relevant questions and provides practical lessons and information. We want this podcast to include the voices of those who practice employee-ownership each and every day. To that end we want to hear from you! We want to highlight what you are doing, whether you are an employee-owned company, a practitioner, or researcher.

***Please reach out via email: oeoc@kent.edu

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