Mayoral Candidate Bob Fioretti is calling on Chicagoans to re-imagine our economy and build it together. Bob knows that creating a strong economy means doing more than just asking for jobs or relocating corporate headquarters downtown. In addition to reforming our TIF program and directing resources to attract traditional businesses to all our neighborhoods, creating new opportunities by promoting worker cooperatives is another step in building a robust economy.
â€œI support a $15 minimum wage increase, but the key to building a strong economy is through building real wealth. To do that we need to create more owners â€“ especially in our neighborhoods. Ownership builds wealth and cooperative ownership is the alternative to reliance on the current low-paying retail and service industry jobs that do not sustain individuals or families,â€ he 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 ownership and management of their business, and share the profits made from their investment and labor.
Bob seeks to make Chicago the #1 city in the country for worker-owned cooperatives as part of a larger initiative to support the expansion of small business ownership in the city. He proposes creating an Institute for Cooperative Development within the current Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) with an initial investment that would in part be used to provide technical assistance to individuals interested in forming a cooperative.Â He also plans to establish a revolving loan fund that would offer cooperatives start-up funding at low interest rates and use tax breaks as an incentive for start-up cooperatives.
â€œCooperatives address Chicagoâ€™s stark income inequality by ensuring higher wages and salaries than traditional jobs,â€ he said. The largest cooperative in the United States, South Bronx, New Yorkâ€™s Cooperative Home Care Associates, has 2,000 home healthcare workers, who enjoy salaries 20% higher than the industry average, retirement benefits and health insurance. Â New Era Windows on Chicagoâ€™s Southwest side is Chicagoâ€™s most well-known example of a cooperative. In 2012, four Â years after the CEO abruptly shut down the company without notifying employees, employees banded together to create a cooperative that they now own.
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.
â€œIn addition to higher-paying, stable jobs, cooperatives provide a pathway for young people, average residents, ex-offenders and others to become owners which increases household income while decreasing unemployment and poverty,â€ said Fioretti. â€œThis creates stable, thriving communities and a stronger tax base for our cityâ€™s economy.â€
By investing in the growth of worker-owned cooperatives and making Chicago the #1 city in the country, Bob Fioretti demonstrates that he has the bold ideas and strategies to build a thriving economy for Chicagoâ€™s future.