Si se puede, Brooklyn, NY

In 2006, Latina immigrants in Brooklyn, N.Y. formed a housekeepers’ co-op to avoid exploitation, according to Vanessa Bransburg, cooperative coordinator of the Center for Family Life (CFL). With the help of the community organization, 19 women from Mexico and the Dominican Republic formed We Can Do It!, or Si Se Puede!, a slogan used by organized workers in Latin American and California.

A lot of these people really had the entrepreneurial spirit, but a lot of them don’t have up to high school education, so they weren’t able to get a traditional job,” said Bransburg. “Instead of following somebody else’s rules, they wanted to be the bosses.”

Cooperative structure

We can do it! Si se puede has been a worker-owned cooperative since 2006.

The Center for Family Life in Sunset Park acts as their agent, with 100% of the cleaning fees going to the workers, who pay $40 in monthly dues to cover marketing costs. The organization has spun off two other worker co-ops: Beyond Care, with 19 child care workers, and Émigré Gourmet, a cooking collective.

All the worker-owners have equal control over marketing and they develop their own relationships with their clients, said Bransburg. “With all of this happening, they’ve been able to withstand the recession and even grow in the last few months,” she said.

We can do it! Si se puede

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