Damayan Cleaning Cooperative Launches Business

New York, NY - The first Filipina migrant worker-owned cooperative in the United States opened for business on September 27, 2015. The coop is in line with the goals of Damayan Migrant Workers Association to help members access meaningful jobs. With the support of the Center for Family Life in Sunset Park, over the last nine months, nine socially committed women - experienced cleaners and community leaders - developed the worker cleaning cooperative business, including creating cleaning protocols, implementing democratic decision-making processes, and planning their business structure.

Damayan Cleaning Cooperative creates sustainable, just and healthy workplaces for the community, clients and member-owners. Member-owners are committed to providing high quality, eco-friendly office cleaning services while creating stable and decent jobs through promotion of democratic decision-making, education and living wages. Collectively, the member-owners have over 100 years of experience in cleaning. The cooperative offers environmentally-friendly cleaning services including floor care, dusting and polishing, glass and interior window cleaning, special event cleaning and more.

"We are proud to launch our cooperative. Through dedication and hard work, we are creating a business that is owned by the members - Filipina migrant workers. We are excited to create this business not just for the members, but to create more decent jobs for our community," said Annie Bello, a founding member of the cooperative and member of both the office committee and training committee.

The cooperative was developed as a collaboration between Damayan Migrant Workers Association, a grassroots organization for the rights of low-wage Filipino migrant workers, and the Center for Family Life, a family and social services organization that has been partnering with residents to organize cooperative businesses in immigrant communities since 2006. The launch took place at Urban Justice Center, a legal service and advocacy organization that partners with both Damayan and Center for Family Life.

Damayan Cleaning Cooperative joins the growing cooperative movement in New York City. Together, nearly thirty cooperative businesses are creating well-paid jobs and social capital through worker-ownership, participatory and collaborative decision-making, and leadership development.

"In addition to offering members opportunities to develop assets and wealth, worker cooperatives provide pathways for members to build solidarity and networks, develop self-esteem and new skillsets, and ensure that the flow of education and capital returns to the community," said Maru Bautista, Co-Director of Cooperative Development at the Center for Family Life.

"The cooperative has been an important new project for our organization," said Linda Oalican, Executive Director of Damayan Migrant Workers Association. "It will provide opportunities for migrant workers who have come from experiences of exploitation and marginalization, and creates a new space for worker organizing and leadership development."

At the launch, member-owners welcomed those in attendance, introduced the cooperative, spoke about the history and context for the cooperative's formation, provided an overview of services and core values, and offered Filipino food and activities.

Throughout the launch event, Damayan Cleaning Cooperative member-owners highlighted their commitment to community and worker justice. Grounded in values of unity, trust and education, Damayan Cleaning Cooperative is accountable to its members, cli

To view all the photos, please visit the Damayan Flickr. For more info about the coop, please visit the coop website.

For more info: Leah Obias, Damayan, (212) 564-6057, leah@damayanmigrants.org; Rachel Isreeli, Center for Family Life, (718) 633-4823, risreeli@sco.org