Governor Gina Raimondo was in Central Falls on Wednesday to sign the bills that would “make it easier for workers’ cooperatives to formally incorporate and do business in Rhode Island.” The new law, H6001 and S676, will allow organizations of working people to start cooperatively owned businesses. The law previously made it difficult to form worker cooperatives, but as Rhode Island State Senator Donna Nesselbush (Democrat, District 15, Pawtucket, North Providence) said at the signing ceremony, the new law “is like an easy on-ramp to starting a new business.”
Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea worked with the Center for Justice, Fuerza Laboral and RI Jobs with Justice to come up with the legal structure for worker cooperatives. “I remember thinking, who’s going to oppose this,” said Gorbea back in April. “You have people ready and willing to start business, albeit with a slightly different structure than what’s out there right now. So I’m very proud to support this initiative.”
It was fitting that the signing of the bill take place in the office of Fuerza Laboral as the organization has been working on a co-operative incubator for the past four years. Fuerza Laboral has been training, refining and developing a scale-able and easily implemented cooperative business model. Fuerza director Heiny Maldonado sees the immediate need for this business model in the immigrant community as well as the need for new community wealth creation. “It is high time we recognize the creative business potential of Rhode Island’s diverse and beautiful immigrant community,” said Maldonado.
Organizations supporting the legislation include the Sierra Club, the Environmental Justice League and the Economic Progress Institute. Central Falls Mayor James Diossa and State Representative Shelby Maldonado (Democrat, District 56, Central Falls) also spoke at the signing ceremony.
Here’s the video of the signing ceremony: