Following up on the preservation of the USDA’s Rural Cooperative Development Grant in the 2013-14 budget, USFWC staff member Joe Rinehart and Union Cab member John MacNamara participated in the American Sustainable Businesses Council (ASBC) Worker Ownership Lobby Day, along with representatives from New Belgium Brewery, other ESOPs, The Evergreen Cooperatives, NCBA and Mondragon Cooperative Corporation. Participants visited with the Assistant Secretary Phyllis Borzi from the Department of Labor, staffers from 5 senators’ offices, including Senators Warren, Franken and Harkin and with staffers of Representative Fattah.
This visit marked the first time the USFWC has used their new membership in the ASBC to lobby for worker cooperatives in Washington and helped to lay the groundwork for the release of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives policy agenda, later in 2014.
There was a surprising level of interest in worker ownership amongst the DoL and congress members looking to address income inequality. Representatives from Rep. Fattah’s office strategized with participants on how to increase his support for cooperatives beyond his sponsorship of the Creating Jobs Through Cooperatives Act, and the senator's staffers offering to work with participants to address cooperative concerns with the Department of Labor and Small Business Administration (SBA).
Next month the USFWC will be participating with the USDA and the SBA to discuss cooperative and sustainable business issues. This work is all part of USFWC's focus to increase advocacy efforts in 2014.
(photo caption: John McNamera representing USFWC member Union Cab Cooperative, Department of Labor Assistant Secretary Phyllis Borzi, and USFWC staffer Joe Rinehart)