Jessica Gordon-Nembhard

My name is Jessica Gordon-Nembhard, and I am a Professor of Community Justice and Social Economic Development in the Department of Africana Studies at John Jay College, part of the City University of New York. I am also the author of “Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice.” So, why are cooperative principles so important to platform cooperatives? I would like to discuss the significance of both co-op principles and values, as they ground platform cooperatives—and indeed, all cooperatives—in solidarity economics and what it truly means to be a people-centered, member-centered, values-based enterprise.

These principles guide us in maintaining operations that prioritize people over profit, embody democracy and equity, and demonstrate a caring concern for the community. Such principles are essential to ensure that our cooperatives are transformative, capable of changing systems, and empowering workers and people not only to own these platforms but to operate and control them in ways that are socially responsible and beneficial to others.

The principles include open and voluntary membership, democratic participation (one person, one vote), concern for the community, and collaboration with other co-ops. I also emphasize the importance of incorporating the Mondragon co-op principles concerning worker co-ops, which highlight the sovereignty of labor and control over labor—key factors in fostering transformative cooperatives.