The Greater Dayton Union Co-op Initiative’s (GDUCI) goal is to create an economy that works for everyone — an economy that supports family sustaining jobs, provides opportunities for underserved and marginalized people, and is accountable to the communities that drive it.
We will transform the Greater Dayton region by strengthening our community’s existing resources, filling gaps where no appropriate resources exist, and supporting our most valuable resource — the people who live and work here.
Our work is inspired by the principles and structure of Mondragon, the largest and most successful cooperative network in the world. By bringing Mondragon’s resilient model to Dayton, Ohio, we will develop a sustainable and integrated network of union cooperative businesses that will grow the economy and develop community wealth from the ground up.
GDUCI is dedicated to educating the community about the use of union co-ops and other cooperative and democratic business models; training employees in the skills they need to become owners and true participants in democratic workplace governance; and supporting the development of worker owned businesses that address economic and social needs of people in the greater Dayton region. GDUCI will incubate union cooperatives by:
• Developing potential union cooperative business ideas
• Funding business feasibility studies
• Supporting business development
• Identifying community partners
• Providing training and education on the union cooperative business model
GDUCI Steering Committee
GDUCI’s Steering Committee meets monthly to report on progress, brainstorm next steps, discuss challenges and vote on key organizational decisions. This 21 member committee, formed in late 2015, has been vibrant and active, taking a strong hand in the release of community surveys and development of a feasibility study, as well as the process of land acquisition for GDUCI’s flagship food access project. The committee brings together leaders and public servants with a diverse set of backgrounds and skills, as well as deep credibility within the community.
Represented are key Dayton anchor organizations, including universities, healthcare and faith institutions, as well as leaders from the communities where our projects will have the most impact. This includes members of the local labor movement, representatives from both the City of Dayton and the Montgomery County, Activists from a local community organizing collaborative, the president of the neighborhood business association of one of our target locations, and members of the faith community.
Matt Currie, Board President
Matt Currie is a Managing Attorney with Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE), a regional non- profit law firm that provides high quality legal assistance in civil matters to help eligible low-income individuals and groups in western Ohio achieve self-reliance, and equal justice and economic opportunity. In his role, Matthew oversees the firm’s Housing and Community Economic Development practice. Matthew has been an attorney with ABLE since 2005. During this time, he has represented tenants and tenant associations in numerous housing matters, including the Fair Housing, equal access, and poor conditions. Matthew graduated from Vermont Law School in 2002 with a J.D. and a Master of Studies in Environmental Law.
Richard Clay Dixon, Vice President
Clay Dixon served as Mayor of Dayton and as a city commissioner. He was the second African-American person to serve as mayor of Dayton. He co-founded the Miami Valley Organizing Collaborative (MVOC), a grassroots action organization committed to improving the quality of life for workers and families in our communities across the Miami Valley. As a community organizer and leader of MVOC, he works to bring diverse organizations together to communicate, mobilize and organize around important issues facing working people and people of color in Dayton.
Lela Klein, Executive Director
A native-Daytonian, Lela has spent her career fighting for economic justice and equity for working people. Prior to co-founding GDUCI, she served as General Counsel to the IUE-CWA, a 45,000-member manufacturing union, where she led major strategic projects, advocated on behalf of workers, and created a mentorship program to foster leadership among young manufacturing employees. Lela was also an organizer and later an Attorney with the Service Employees International Union. After witnessing the devastating impacts of the global recession on blue collar communities like her own, Lela returned to Dayton in 2012 to use her legal and organizing training to support community economic development and worker empowerment in her hometown. Lela received her JD in 2009 from Harvard Law School and has her BA from Cornell University.