Democracy at Work is a project, begun in 2010, that aims to build a social movement. The movement’s goal is transition to a new society whose productive enterprises (offices, factories, and stores) will mostly be WSDE’s, a true economic democracy. The WSDEs would partner equally with similarly organized residential communities they interact with at the local, regional, and national levels (and hopefully international as well). That partnership would form the basis of genuine participatory democracy.

Utilizing media, from short video clips that go viral to our already well-established weekly and increasingly syndicated “Economic Update” radio program (WBAI, 99.5 FM, New York) and from podcasts to articles to blogs, this interactive website reaches and engages a fast growing audience.

Open to and interested in democracy at work, that audience also wants to move actively with beyond today’s dysfunctional economic and political systems while mindful of mistakes made by earlier efforts to go beyond capitalism. This interactive website will serve as the central location for these forms of media, a database of research and resources that support and strengthen the movement, and the open discussions shaping that movement as it grows. We begin with a definition of workers’ self-directed enterprises. In some ways, they are similar to co-ops, worker owned enterprises, and other organizations of production that reject the old, top-down, hierarchical capitalist model. Yet in crucial ways, workers’ self-directed enterprises are also unique.

Workers’ Self-Directed Enterprises (WSDE’s): WSDE’s are enterprises in which all the workers who collaborate to produce its outputs also serve together, collectively as its board of directors. Each worker in any WSDE thus has two job descriptions: (1) a particular task in the enterprise’s division of labor, and (2) full participation in the directorial decisions governing what, how and where to produce and how to use the enterprise’s surplus or profits.

Simply put, in place of a hierarchical, undemocratic, capitalist production organization giving those decisions exclusively to a small minority – major shareholders and the board of directors – WSDE’s institutionalize democracy at work as the economy’s central principle and society’s new foundation.

We believe that now is the time for a comprehensive new strategy and new movement for social change. We invite you to join with Democracy at Work to work toward those goals.

Dr. Richard Wolff

Richard Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a Visiting Professor at the New School University in New York. Wolff’s work challenges the conventional wisdom that capitalism is the ideal framework for the political economy. His recent work has concentrated on analyzing the causes and alternative solutions to the global economic crisis. Wolff’s groundbreaking book Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism shows how and why to make democratic workplaces real through the WSDE model. Wolff is also the author of Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism and Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It. He hosts the weekly hour-long radio program “Economic Update,” which is syndicated on public radio stations nationwide, and he writes regularly for The Guardian and Wolff appears frequently on television and radio to discuss his work, and he is also a frequent lecturer at colleges and universities across the country.

Shane Smith

Executive Director
Shane comes to Democracy at Work with over a decade of leadership and program experience in nonprofits, including grassroots advocacy and direct-service organizations, policy research institutes, a UN outpost in Bogotá, Colombia, and other international NGOs. He was the founding publisher of the Jersey City Independent, an online newspaper covering politics, culture, and community news in Jersey City, New Jersey. Shane holds an MA in International Affairs from the New School University in New York City. The question of how to mobilize local and hyperlocal reform movements to effect broad social change motivates Shane and drew him to the efforts of Democracy at Work. He resides in Jersey City.