Dave Kerin became active in the anti-Vietnam War and Moratorium movement in the late 1960’s before starting work in the building industry at the end of 1970, when he joined the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF).
In the BLF, he was involved in the Green Ban movement in the 1970s and resistance to the Deregistration (outlawing) of the union, both in the 1970s and again in the 1980s. The reading, thinking, discussion and skills acquisition which occurred during these creative years influenced the formation of Earthworker.
In the late 1990’s Dave helped establish Earthworker, which evolved directly out of his experiences with the Green Bans. He is still working towards the aims of the Earthworker Cooperative project, helping establish the first union-supported workers cooperative, Eureka’s Future Workers Cooperative which has now moved to Morwell in the heart of the Latrobe Valley coal region.
Discussions are proceeding with the Victorian State Government about procurement into Public Housing to enable Earthworker Cooperative to work its way into the Morwell jobs.
Once the factory fit-out-and-finish is concluded it will be manufacturing a range of renewable products including solar hot water, photovoltaic panels, fully recyclable battery storage, and a range of Hemp products. The medium term aim is the manufacture by workers cooperatives of the full range of renewable energy-producing goods.
Uniquely, distribution or sale of the goods (and ultimately green power) will be done via the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) negotiated by unions with employers, who receive an incentive payment for any administration cost to them, while workers can take the renewable products as part of their wage increase.
Earthworker Cooperative also seeks to model a new funding approach in relation to Australia’s most vulnerable and the community sector agencies which represent them. It is a simple tithing system where 5% of any surplus goes towards social justice. In the past that has seen solar hot water go into community housing, such as the Father Bob Maguire houses, and a Geelong based hospice, paid for out of that 5%.