Ken Estey is an assistant professor at the Department of Political Science at Brooklyn College (City University of New York) and the Coordinator for the Studies in Religion Program. Author of A New Protestant Labor Ethic at Work, his research focus is on the intersection of labor and religion, particularly Protestant evangelicals in the U.S.
DOMESTIC WORKERS AND COOPERATIVES: BEYONDCARE GOES BEYOND CAPITALISM, A CASE STUDY IN BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
Article first published online: 5 SEP 2011
© The Authors. WorkingUSA: The Journal of Labor and Society © 2011 Immanuel Ness and Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Volume 14, Issue 3, pages 347–365, September 2011
How to Cite
Estey, K. (2011), DOMESTIC WORKERS AND COOPERATIVES: BEYONDCARE GOES BEYOND CAPITALISM, A CASE STUDY IN BROOKLYN, NEW YORK. WorkingUSA, 14: 347–365. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-4580.2011.00345.x
- Issue published online: 5 SEP 2011
- Article first published online: 5 SEP 2011
Worker-owned and worker-managed cooperatives have a long history in the U.S. They pose an alternative to workplaces structured within capitalism that are hierarchical and do not feature collective decision-making. The short history of the cooperative movement in this article sets the context for a study of workers in Brooklyn, who are also immigrants, in the field of child care. These workers face additional hurdles to full empowerment at work as they lack comprehensive labor law protection and must contend with the under-enforcement of existing laws in the U.S. Home-based child care is inherently isolated and does not foster opportunities for workers to organize in traditional ways. These conditions create a compelling rationale for workers to resist their exploitation through self-organization and the creation of worker cooperatives. This article will describe how the BeyondCare child care cooperative in Sunset Park, Brooklyn offers its worker owners control over their labor and unfettered access to their earnings. BeyondCare is a useful case study because it is a worker cooperative made up of immigrant women who have learned from other immigrant worker owners how to create meaningful living-wage labor. The worker owners offer a timely example about the power of immigrant women to reach into a privatized place in the U.S. economy—home-based labor—and to recreate that work into something that works for them.