As allies in Buffalo’s cooperative community, we at Cooperation Buffalo recognize the important role that the Lexington Co-op Markets play in Western New York’s cooperative economy. The Co-op has proudly supported workers in the cooperative movement for many years through advocacy, seed capital, sourcing from local worker co-ops, and mentorship by senior staff. Our own efforts to build an incubator and loan fund for workers in Buffalo to form worker-owned cooperatives received such crucial support from the Lexington Co-op in our early years.
For these reasons, we strongly urge the Lexington Co-op Board and management to embrace their workers’ right to a union by signing the Fair Election Principles and voluntarily recognizing Lexington Co-op Workers United.
As the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives’ Union Co-ops Council noted in this statement from 2021, the cooperative movement and the trade union movement both have deep roots in liberation struggles for economic independence. Labor unions and cooperatives are not an “either/or” option of organization but work together in solidarity to achieve similar goals. Worker power and self-determination, whether through worker co-ops, labor unions, or both, are key to the better world we hope to build.
Consumer co-ops and labor unions go hand-in-hand. Just as consumer members join in collective action through a consumer cooperative to have a meaningful voice in the marketplace, workers join in collective action through a labor union to have a meaningful voice in the workplace. And we know this worker voice will help achieve Lexington Co-op’s Big Direction to create more happy, knowledgeable people, support more local farmers and producers, have more grocery dollars returned to the local economy, and become more sustainable.
The Statement on Cooperative Identity from the International Cooperative Alliance highlights democracy, equity, and solidarity as fundamental values to the cooperative movement. We encourage Lexington Co-op’s Board, management, and consumer members to uphold these values in solidarity with the workers who create the value of the cooperative. We stand proudly with the workers of Lexington Co-op Workers United, and all workers organizing to have a meaningful voice in their workplace.