OWS Screenprinters Cooperative
OWS Screen Guild would like to support the development of workers cooperatives developing out of
our movement. We are in discussion with other potential coops with members of the OWS working
group on Workers’ Cooperatives. We are ready for a screen printers cooperative. We see this as an
attempt to create permanent infrastructure for our movement.
The GA has already approved the OWS Screenguild to purchase blank tee shirts for printing as part of
the OWS occupation. We have been approved to make 4 purchases of up to $5000 each. So far we
have already made one and a half of these purchases, with which we generated donations far more
than we spent. We are asking the GA to allow us to dedicate one of these $5000 purchases to building
an initial inventory for our workers cooperative, all of which will be paid back into the workers
cooperative fund, which has been approved by the GA, and is being set up by the Workers
Cooperative Working Group.
Our proposed workers cooperative would begin with online tee-shirt sales, done in a way that feels
like it furthers the movement, as opposed to co-opting it.
Complete transparency – Every penny needs to be accounted for up front, with a clearly established
distribution of where our proceeds will go.
Respecting the unpaid work that has gone into making this movement, while at the same time trying
to build a model for a sustainable, politically motivated workers’ cooperative that can provide modest
compensation for dedicated members of the movement.
Continuing to build the movement that we are printing for!
Recognizing that the work we do in transitioning part of our project into a worker’s cooperative has
the potential to be a strong political statement, and being very careful and intentional about all of the
decisions we make, so as to set a strong example, and send a powerful message to the world that
another form of business is possible.
There are three separate entities involved in this project:
Occuprint (curators of the occuprint website and publishers of an all poster issue of the occupied wall
street journal, occuprint’s intention is to build a space for #occupy printed media on the web, and to
print more poster art for the movement.)
OWS Screen Guild (OWS working group who prints at occupations and on the street)
OWS Screen Cooperative (this is the new, or not yet existent entity that will hopefully become its own
workers’ cooperative, spun off of the OWS Screen Guild. Its initial members will come from the
screen guild and from Occuprint.
The OWS Screen Guild has been printing at Liberty Plaza and other public locations. Our prints are
free, though we ask for donations to help cover material costs and to support the movement. We have
raised thousands of dollars for the movement in this way, and have printed thousands of shirts,
patches, etc. for supporters and participants of #occupy. We have also collaborated with other working
groups to design and print shirts to meet their needs. The OWS Screen guild will continue to do this
work with and for the movement.
No member of the OWS Screen Guild will receive pay for work they do supporting this working
Perhaps this will change, but for the time being it does not seem right to compensate a member of the
printer’s guild for their work when no one else is being compensated for their work as occupiers. We
print in solidarity with the entire occupy movement, and we respect the fact that this movement is
being built out of selfless – and uncompensated – donations of time and energy from a wide variety of
However, if we want to scale up our production, and offer people shirts through online donations, we
will not be able to rely on the donated labor of the Screen Guild. This is why we are proposing the
creation of the OWS Printers’ Cooperative. The printer’s cooperative will function as a movement-
based business. Its goal will be to produce printed materials for fundraising and to help build the
movement, while fairly compensating any financially insecure members of the group for their work.
Here is what we propose to do:
On the occuprint website, the screen coop will have a page dedicated to their products. It will be
hosted by occuprint, but entirely managed and controlled by the coop. Eventually the coop will spin
off with its own webpage, once the resources to do so are available, and if they so choose.
At first, the coop will sell a few teeshirt styles that they have been printing at Liberty Plaza, along
with hoodie sweatshirts. As we grow, so will our offerings.
Prices will be set at or near the donations we were receiving at the park. However, we will also have a
way for low-income, unemployed or underemployed people to request shirts for less money,
potentially even for free.
All of our accounting will be transparent and public – listed on our website.
All of our surplus proceeds (above basic costs) will be distributed amongst the following:
-supporting ongoing occupations (either in-kind, with printed materials, or with cash)
-supporting the coop business fund that the cooperatives working group has already been approved to form
-supporting the infrastructure of our printshop, which we intend to make a public arts/culture space
and community resource.