Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Working World * Re-connecting producers and consumers

A coworker had brought The Working World to my attention a few months ago. The Working World is a non-profit that helps fund and market products from cooperatives and democratic workplaces.

They've created an online market for factories run by Argentina's autonomous workers movement. These factories had been shutdown by the owners and have been reclaimed by the workers who are now running them! You can select from glassware, shoes, shirts and balloons. When you select a particular item(my favorite is the balloons -they're awesome!), you can see and read about the factory and the workers. Each item also gives you a breakdown of where your money is going. For instance here is the breakdown on a nice button-down shirt for men:

Price: US$14.40

Cooperative receivesUS$9.00
Real middle man cost 2.25
Fund contribution1.80
Import Duties 1.35

It's quite a bargain for the average US consumer and quite a good flow-through to the workers - that's what I call a win-win! The only losers in this equation are the transnational corporations and the sweatshops that supply them!

So if you can't find locally produced or thriftstore balloons, glassware, shirts or shoes, I encourage you to shop through The Working World. Help some people who are helping themselves. Give a boost to globalization from below and strike a blow against sweatshop corporations with your most important vote - your hard-earned dollar!

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