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1worker1vote.org and Mondragon International North America are building a national network of unionized worker-owned cooperative businesses to overcome inequality of opportunity, mobility, and income.

The Bipartisan Future of Work

Despite widely diverging Liberal, Conservative and Libertarian beliefs, 2016 change-voters united in recoiling against the incessant chipping away of shared founding principles, institutions and values. Both post- and pre-vote polls taken during the 2015-2016 campaign timeframe show that Trump and Sanders voters felt similarly alienated from America’s governing elites and their corporatist, rent-seeking policies widening unequal outcomes and opportunities.

Notwithstanding, political capital, like “Looking Glass” newsfeeds, is being stitched, cut and braided out of imaginary whole cloth. Wall Street, U.S. Congress and other tri-coastal power center insiders are working hard to co-opt this month’s election results and transform an Electoral College win missing a significant popular majority into an ideological mandate having little to do with who voted and why (When Work Loses Its Dignity – by Sherrod Brown).

In fact, working class America’s economic and cultural disconnect from Wall Street, Washington, D.C. and Silicon Valley is equidistant, multi-sectoral, multi-generational, multi-ethnic and bipartisan. In “Silicon Valley Helped Create Trump, and That’s Bad for It,” Noam Cohen observes that,

“Tech companies didn’t face the same degree of populist assault as the banks, but they came to embody as much as Wall Street the harsh, unequal American economy that didn’t care a lick for the people left behind. There is an enormous disconnect between Silicon Valley and the people it serves. Mr. Trump himself saw the disconnect and exploited it.”

Facing poor and often exploitative urban and rural job prospects offering mostly service sector minimum wages without benefits, the so-called “Sharing Economy” has become an euphemism for workers who are involuntarily shared. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis laboratories of democracy have morphed into profitable false-media equivalencies masquerading as objective journalism and deliberately designed to confuse civic reality and pigeonhole democratic discourse. Both Silicon Valley and Wall Street bestow billions on hegemonic information technology platforms owned and run by companies without employees or profits that deliberately manipulate and separate consumers from workers, aided by revolving door, former public officials as lobbyists.

Many traditional Democratic Party working class, blue-collar, union households (Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, West Virginia, Missouri, Indiana, and Southern Illinois) deliberately, repeatedly and painstakingly chose President-elect Trump’s anti-elite economic message soon to become flesh, as did Midwest and Rural cooperative-member households. Downwardly mobile, aging working classes voted to retrieve a better tomorrow from the wasteland dustbin of non-stop hometown factory closings that exported, off-shored, and out-sourced community and family sustaining wages since the 1970s.

A crossover electoral majority is demanding a new culture of honorable work. As a result, hybrid labor organizing opportunities abound. This process includes a democratic, cooperative and marketplace competitive approach to new work prospects and structures reflecting the values of self-reliance, boot-strapping entrepreneurialism, civic and workplace equity combined with wage solidarity, democratic inclusion and organization such as participation in management, inter-cooperation and social transformation.

Intentional solidarity-designed solutions combining Rural and Midwest America’s leading working class stakeholders, local institutions such as credit unions and community development financial institutions (CDFIs), small businesses, cooperatives, and unions in underserved rural and urban communities can join forces and thrive together to restore the sense of resilience and rebirth regenerating work culture provides. Cooperatives that offer competitive marketplace examples of workplace democracy and represent significant scale are already uniting with unions who bring solidarity culture and journeyman training back to the American productivity table.

As a more profitable and socially-healing alternative, New Labor Organizing insists that first mover “creative disruption” is paired with concurrent “creative reconstruction” leaving no working class community behind. New Labor Organizing eschews specious proclamations of a “post-industrial society” and instead recognizes that a more inclusive era of three dimensional 3-D printing or additive manufacturing starts with inserting crowd-funded and crowd-sourced Maker and FAB Labs into schools, vocational and cultural centers housed in rural and urban underserved communities and neighborhoods to rebuild America’s new industrial human talent ecosystems. New Labor Organizing grasps that each new wave of dislocating technology, the latest being intrusive artificial intelligence (AI) applications such as driverless vehicles, coexists with a mandate that applied social sciences re-purpose and re-position human beings back into the center, value-adding stage of each incoming socio-technological equation.

New Labor Organizing offers a bottom-up, regenerative, democratic, “fair share” (the worker ownership version of “fair trade”) wages, equity compensation and tax policies civic compact for America that seeds solidarity-infused, rising middle class-centric, local living economies. New Labor Organizing opposes extractive and inequality-enabling “top-down” (from employer to employee) wages, equity compensation and tax policies that exclude or unfairly impact freelancers, 1099 contractors, temporary workers, organized labor, alternative labor, the unemployed and under-employed – basically those workers with declining or without preexisting homeowner and workplace assets who represent America’s rising working class majority.

New Labor Organizing discards historically tried and failed wealth-centric strategies that trickle down instead of “gusher-up”, and substitutes proven worker self-actuation models to reach higher and more durable remuneration standards and opportunities including equity shared with working class families and communities. New Labor Organizing advocates for unalienable individual worker rights to compete with dominating corporate personhood rights starting with fair relative taxation rates tendered domestically, participative workplace democracy and portable benefits to level the badly skewed employer-employee-worker power paradigm.

New Labor Organizing adds solidarity-enabling stakeholder wealth provisions through “one worker, one vote” ownership and workplace democratic practices to its advocacy menu so that every working human regardless of occupation will want to join a union for critical mass representation to protect against overt or covert threats and challenges to sacred first Amendment rights. Every worker signing a union card will be given the option of her or his representation being fixed price menu or a la carte. Existing labor unions will still be able to organize by industrial and professional and technical service categories to ensure competitive vocational, training, safety, and relevant policy expertise, but dues and benefits will be more flexibly adjudicated based on enterprise quarterly returns and no longer on a fixed monthly retainer basis. If project-centric or a la carte, dues and benefits will be matched to individual campaign projected costs, timelines and outcomes to allow “the punishment to fit the crime” in both execution and funding.

Collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) will be re-purposed as enterprise magna cartas benefitting management and labor equally and incentivizing workplace democracy and “one worker, one vote” equity participation. Labor contracts will be reviewed quarterly along with publicly released corporate earnings so that workforces will share equally in earnings upside as well as downside. Other alternatives including GIG economy Labor representation will be crowd-sourced & crowd-funded optimizing state-of-the-art, political campaign small donor technology platforms. Voluntary, issue-based corporate donations (those socially innovative corporations grasping the art and science of “doing well by doing good”) will be encouraged with both revenue streams (individual dues and voluntary corporate donations) kept legally separate as necessary. Such an approach will encourage and deepen “one worker, one vote” labor-corporate solidarity.

Leveling the national tax policy playing field will facilitate start-ups and conversions opting to deploy the union co-op model to ensure a progressive but effective collective bargaining agreement and a “one worker, one vote” equity share. Labor halls, together with public libraries and post offices especially in rural regions, will be re-booted, and re-positioned as place-based incubator/accelerator laboratories, integrated nationwide into a New Labor future of work ecosystem defined by Maker & FAB-Labs, Platform Cooperativism and triple bottom-line companies.

Again from Noam Cohen,

“Technology companies believe in the idea of ‘disruption,’ their great promise to the world. Internet-driven efficiency replaces the ‘friction’ holding us back — bureaucrats, unions, brick and mortar stores, cumbersome factories along with libraries, the post office, taxis and hotels. They see America as a reclamation project led by a passel of supersmart Silicon Valley entrepreneurs… it’s not only companies that must harness new technologies to thrive in a dog-eat-dog world. People must harness them, as well. It’s an exhausting, Darwinian life… endlessly adapting to a changing, pitiless world.”

President-elect Trump’s voters rejected this encroaching “Purposeful Darwinism” reality for a new culture of work that is local, regenerative, supportive of family and community-sustaining wages, and structured to protect against the well-known ravages of global labor arbitraging, off-shoring, outsourcing and corporate inversions. There is strong precedent binding 2016 election results to formative socioeconomic history. Doubling down on founding principles 126 year earlier, Abraham Lincoln in his first Annual Message as President in 1861, declared that “Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.” Rural and urban Midwest Trump voters cast their ballots to “own their labor and rent their capital.”

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Michael Peck is a co-founder and executive director of www.1worker1vote.org.

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