The Union-Coop Model (Moderated by Trebor Scholz)

The New School
Wollman Hall,
Eugene Lang College
5th floor
65 West 11th St

This roundtable is bringing together cooperatives, unions and worker associations to offer different models for how to watch out for today’s freelancers and independent contract workers. There is the Teamsters Local 117 in Seattle that represents Uber drivers in that city while the National Domestic Workers Alliance decided to create a set of principles for good work on digital platform in order to sway platform owners to abide by them. The initiative is promoting the union-coop model, following the common historical roots of unions and cooperatives. SMart, a cooperative that is active in 8 European countries is bringing tangible benefits to freelancers that have traditionally been provided by unions. Is the model of the functionalist union passé? What can independent unions look like in the 21st century? What are the prospects of the union-coop model?


  • Palak Shah Founding Director of Fair Care Labs & Social Innovations Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance

  • Michael Peck Co-Founder & Executive Director of

  • Frisia Donders Strategic Development, SMart

  • Dawn Gearhart Representative, Organizer, and Lobbyist, Teamsters Local 117

  • Annette Mühlberg Works for the United Services Union

  • Trebor Scholz Founding Director of the Institute for the Cooperative Digital Economy, Platform Cooperativism Consortium, The New School

  • Lieza Dessein Strategic Project Manager, SMart & Board of Directors, Coop

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