DesegregateCT Looks to Year Two!

Lindsay Mathews, DesegregateCT

Sixty years ago, when I was growing up in a small town in central Connecticut, I hardly saw a single Black child in our schools, parks, or places of worship.

Today, nothing has changed.

That our state is still segregated is no accident. In part, our state is deeply segregated because many Connecticut communities have adopted “exclusionary zoning” laws to restrict the kinds of housing most Black people can afford to buy. Research shows that the vast majority of Connecticut towns practice exclusionary tactics like large minimum lot sizes, bans on multi-family housing, and minimum unit size requirements. Black ownership is further stymied because of a lack of access to subsidized mortgages. This financing gap has been well-documented by organizations like the Brookings Institution and the Federal Reserve.

After the murder of George Floyd, many grassroots organizations formed in order to tackle the weighty legacy of structural racism that surrounds us and our communities.

DesegregateCT is one such organization. It is a statewide organization of activists and more than 70 coalition members who are passionate about the idea that through legislation, our commitment to equality can be realized by working to change zoning laws. Over the last year, the group successfully advocated for legalizing accessory apartments, reducing parking mandates, requiring zoning regulations to “affirmatively further” fair housing, instituting commission-er training requirements, and more.

After DesegregateCT’s legislative victory, Sara Bronin said, “A year and a day after we first met – thanks to our coalition, team, and supporters, and the many housing advocates that laid the groundwork over the years – Public Act 21-29 (HB6107) became law. It is an important step toward a more affordable, sustainable, and economically dynamic state, and it marks the first significant update to the State’s Zoning Enabling Act in decades.”

Governments at every level may have forced us to live apart. However, DesegregateCT has proven that it is possible to pass zoning laws that will bring us together, if we are willing to do the work.

Go to desegregatect.org to join the fight to undo restrictive zoning laws in Connecticut.

Why Are Worker Co-operatives Rising in the United States?

by Robin Latta and Lindsay Mathews, PAR readers

One person, one vote.

How would you like to vote for who your next work supervisor will be? Do you think you should have a say in how much you and your co-workers make? And, do you believe you have a right to vote on what you need to stay safe in your workplace?

These democratic rights are yours if you are part owner of a worker co-operative.

Visualize yourself as a partner in a worker-owned co-operative. As a partner, you get to vote on your own and your co-partners wages, working conditions, and where the profits of the enterprise go. Not only that, but people who are partners in a worker co-operative have a different, more personal, motivating approach to their work because they are working for themselves!

The basic structure of worker co-operatives makes the workers feel as though they have their shoes on straight instead of backward. This may sound like a worker’s paradise, but democracy is hard. It’s difficult.

The alternative, however, is corporate power acting like Santa Claus. Here the bosses and corporate thieves gift to the workers what they will receive from the fruits of their labors. Although a union in a corporate workplace advances workers’ rights, for those of us who want a truly democratic workplace, co-operatives can be the better choice.

In the US, corporate Santas/CEOs are paid over 300 times as much as the typical worker. In New Haven, corporate-owned Subway and Ann Taylor recently closed. Had they been worker co-operatives, the workers would have been able to make the decisions needed to keep everyone employed proving, again, that worker co-operatives are more resilient even during tough times.

Visualize a worker cooperative at the North Pole!

Suggested resources:

Valley Alliance of Worker Co-operatives, (413) 268-5800 or info@valleyworker.coop
United States Federation of Worker Co-ops, (415) 292-7277
or info@usworker.coop