WORKER OWNED: In Their Own Words, is a 30 minute documentary about the Linnton Plywood Association. LPA was a worker owned cooperative formed in 1952 to manufacture plywood. With a down payment of $1000 each, about 180 men, committed to purchase a share in LPA for $5000. The remaining $4000 for each members share was to be paid over time from their earnings as workers in the new operation. All workers were paid the same hourly rate for whatever job they did. Each member had one vote and the board of directors of the organization was comprised of the membership elected by the members.
Based on hours put in they shared equally what was left after bills were paid, reserves of logs secured and new equipment purchased. Members made good livings for over 40 years.
WORKER OWNED: In Their Own Words is edited from 16 hours of interviews, recorded during the fall of 2007. Eight former, long time, worker/owners of LPA shared their stories. Still photos shot by Mike Valteau, a worker owner, in the 1980s and '90s, helps us see the people and know the place.
Doug Polk, 30+ years resident and activist in the Linnton Community and friend of many years, and I, discovered we shared a curiosity about LPA. Doug was interested because for 50 years LPA and it's member/owner's were an intimate part of the Linnton Community.
The 25 acres of land owned by LPA after terminating business figured large in the Neighborhood Plan presented by the Linnton Neighborhood Association to Portland City Council in 2007. Doug had worked tirelessly over years, with many others, to grow that plan into being.
My own curiosity in LPA was piqued because of a long time interest in cooperatives. In the 1980's I discovered and studied the Mondragon Cooperatives in Basque, Spain. I visited several large cooperatives in India, during the filming of Why Kerala, Grampa? I was familiar with a number of small, local cooperatives in Portland, Oregon that appeared to thrive but what would it be like, day to day, to work in a cooperative with up to 250 member/owners?