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Central Falls celebrates first co-op established in Rhode Island under new enabling legislation



Healthy Planet Cleaning Co-Op (HPCC) was co-founded in May, 2018, incorporated  under new legislation enacted in Rhode Island in January of this year. This is a new model of democratically owned business where the workers are the owners. Five people will manage the business, make all the decisions the business makes in a democratic manner and the owners of the business themselves will be the ones doing the work.

HPCC is fully bonded and insured. The company uses eco-friendly cleaning products which are safer for the worker/owners to use and are “Home Safe / Pet Safe / Planet Safe.” HPCC is available for commercial, industrial, residential, and post-construction cleaning jobs.

Getting this cooperative off the ground was a collaboration of many groups. The P.O.W.E.R. Network, Fuerza Laboral, the City of Central Falls, Navigant Credit Union, Rhode Island Small Business Development Center (RISBDC), Rhode Island Center for Justice, Rhode Island Democracy at Work and the Center for Family in Brooklyn, New York.

Jillian Finkle, principal planner of Central Falls’ Division of Planning and Economic Development, hosted the press conference to announce HPCC.

“To have in our city the first beginnings of this endeavor is a proud moment for me,” said Central Falls Mayor James Diossa.

“Workers’ cooperatives are for-profit businesses jointly owned and controlled by the individuals working for the business,” said Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea. “Workers own the business and participate directly in its financial success through their labor and management decisions. Massachusetts established a workers’ cooperative corporate structure in 1982, and since then this business model has been successfully implemented in several states across the country.”

“This opportunity, is resulting from the initiative of the POWER Network, to be the pioneers in the State of Rhode Island in developing a Workers’ Cooperative with HPCC, has positively impacted our lives. Previously, we were poorly compensated workers; now we are entrepreneurs of our own business with decent wages and benefits,” said Oscar Leiva, a founding member of HPCC. Leiva is from Guatemala and holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He brings to HPCC fifteen years of experience in the cleaning industry.

“Being a mother and head of household, I am proud of the road we have built with the POWER Network for a better future for our children and the broader community, and for the movement of workers’ cooperatives in Rhode Island,” said Daisy Salvador, a founding member of HPCC. Salvador migrated to the United States in 1998 in search of a better life for herself and her four children. She worked for ten years for a Rhode Island-based cleaning service company. She left the company and joined Fuerza Laboral as a volunteer interested in co-op incubation.

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Ellie O’shea is a graduate of the second Workers Cooperative Academy.

Maria Lopera is a graduate of the second Workers Cooperative Academy.

Carmen Diaz-Jusino is the strategic initiative officer at the Rhode Island Foundation.

“In a couple of months or maybe a year, we’ll be introducing the second, the third and so on, and many other public cooperatives” said Raúl Figueroa, an organizer from Fuerza Laboral and a mentor to HPCC. “If you’re looking for any kind of cleaning services, please consider hiring Healthy Planet Cleaning Cooperative.”

Secretary of State Gorbea then presented the cooperative member/owners with a citation.

James Diossa
Nellie Gorbea
Daisy Salvador
Oscar Leiva
Ellie O’shea
Maria Lopera
Carmen Diaz-Jusino
Raúl Figueroa

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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.