This business has closed.
The Workers’ Owned Sewing Company was, at peak, a 70-worker democratic cut-and-sew factory that operated for 21 years in Windsor, North Carolina. The company was founded in 1979 out of the bankruptcy of a 12 year-old form called Bertie Industries (after Bertie County). The manager of that firm, Tim Bazemore, reorganized the company as a democratic enterprise and helped relaunch it with the help of consultants including Frank Adams of ICA. Bazemore owned all the shares for the first two years but then began to sell them to the workers through payroll deductions. An elected 7-member board was responsible for all major business decisions, including hiring and firing the plant manager. After several years of subcontracting, the cooperative was successful enough in 1983 to sell directly to K-Mart and Sears.
The success of the cooperative helped activists to persuade Guilford College’s Business Management Department to sponsor four-day summer workshops three successive summers, and contributed to the founding of the Self-Help Credit Union, which in turn helped the cooperative to expand. In 1993 Bazemore was invited by Bill Clinton to the White House to speak to bankers and community economic developers that “poor minorities could build enterprises, create jobs, and instill confidence in their future” as Clinton announced his Community Development Banking and Financial Institutions Act.
- Adams and Shirey, “Workers’ Owned Sewing Company: Making The Eagle Fly Friday.” (1993)
- Hoke – Interview with Tim Bazemore, 1992
- Baugh, “Employee Ownership as a Strategy for Black Economic Empowerment.” (1987)
- Pitegoff, ” Organizing Worker Cooperatives.” (1985)
- Egerton – Workers Take Over the Store (1983)
- Mother Jones Magazine, “Turning Workers into Bosses.” (1982)
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