Chicago Mayoral Candidate Dr. Amara Enyia to Create Stronger Economy through Worker-Owned Cooperatives

CHICAGO—(ENEWSPF)—December 1, 2014. Mayoral Candidate Dr. Amara Enyia knows that creating a strong economy means doing more than just asking for jobs or a relocating headquarters downtown.

“We need to create more owners – especially in the neighborhoods. Ownership builds wealth and cooperative ownership is the alternative to a reliance on low-paying retail and service industry jobs,” she said. 

A worker cooperative is a democratically managed business that is owned and controlled by the workers. The cooperative form of organization allows ordinary people to combine their energy, capital, and skills to gain steady employment and income, participate in the management of their business, and share the profits. 

Dr. Enyia seeks to make Chicago the top city in the country for worker-owned cooperatives by creating an Institute for Cooperative Development within the current Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP). An initial $2.5 million investment that would go to providing technical assistance to individuals interested in forming a cooperative.  She also seeks to establish a revolving loan fund that would offer cooperatives start-up funding at low interest rates.

“Cooperatives address Chicago’s alarming rates of income inequality by ensuring higher wages and salaries than traditional jobs,” Dr. Enyia said.

New Era Windows on Chicago’s southwest side is the city’s most well-known example of a cooperative. In 2012, four years after the CEO abruptly shut down the company, employees banded together to create a cooperative they now own. 

A South Bronx cooperative, New York’s Cooperative Home Care Association is the largest in the United States.  They employ 2000 healthcare workers who earn salaries that are 20% higher that the industry average, retirement benefits and health insurance.

Other examples of workers in New York City who have formed worker cooperatives have seen their hourly wages increase from $10 to $25 per hour within just a few years. 

 “In addition to higher-paying jobs, cooperatives provide a pathway for young people, local residents, and even ex-offenders to become owners,” Dr. Enyia said. This increases household income and decreases unemployment and poverty. This creates stable, thriving communities and a stronger tax base for our city’s economy.”