in Great Company
Worx Printing Co-op draws on the rich histories of union organizing, worker cooperatives, and values-driven manufacturing.
Worx Printing Co-op
We’re a union worker cooperative based out of Worcester, Massachusetts specializing in state-of-the-art, fashion-forward printing techniques using ethical labor. Worx offers unparalleled printing possibilities from custom T-shirts to hats, bags, and all kinds of merchandise, utilizing the most advanced direct-to-textile digital printing technology available on the market.
Worx not only uses the highest standards of product sourcing, union printing, and progressive merchandising, we also offer a full suite of fulfillment options. From multiple drop ships to individual deliveries, we’ve got you covered!
The Merchandise is the Message
Worx draws on the rich and lengthy histories of union organizing, worker cooperatives, and values-driven manufacturing. Every person at Worx is a member of the United Steelworkers Union, a vital partner in our commitment to civil, human, and workers’ rights.
Our mission is inspired by the Knights of Labor and the renowned Mondragon-Steelworkers collaboration and we’re involved in national efforts to grow the Labor Movement alongside 1worker1vote.org and the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives through their Union Coops Council.
Co-founder Kevin O’Brien — and the underpinnings of Worx — stem from the social justice movement criticizing globalization’s race-to-the-bottom, which resulted in ubiquitous sweatshops and sweeping American factory closures. Kevin worked with Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s on Worx’s predecessor, sweatX, trying to right the wrongs of the predatory cut-and-sew arm of the merchandise industry. SweatX shuttered in 2004 after two years of production due to exploitative pressures.
In 2014, carrying hard-learned lessons from the closure of sweatX, Kevin co-founded Worx, ensuring that cutting-edge print technology was coupled with the highest bars of manufacturing and fair trade standards.
While the US boasts the best working conditions in garment manufacturing across the globe, glorified sweatshops are still the standard.
The ethics accompanying “Made in the USA” are usually a myth—it implies things like fair labor and the direct support of American businesses—but typically it’s labor-washing. And worse yet? It capitalizes on some of our most vulnerable communities. According to the California Bureau of Labor Statisticss [PDF], of the over 46,000 individuals who comprise Los Angeles’s so-called “cut-and-sew” labor force, 71% are undocumented immigrants with little recourse against rampant labor violations.
“A combination of political, economic, and social trends has come together to recreate working conditions that are nearly as bad as those of the early twentieth century. Sweatshops are back, and they are right here.”
— “Slaves to Fashion” // Robert J.S. Ross
Globalization and Deregulation
But the most dire problem is the continued sprawl of globalization. Under Reagen in the 1980s, deregulation coupled with droves of industries moving overseas—from auto manufacturing to steel and electronics—began to gut the American workforce, and we’ve never recovered. And when those jobs went overseas they didn’t go to union-waged workers, they went to a race to the bottom, to paying the lowest wages possible using the cheapest materials and methods.
The dawn of “fast fashion” means that during 2000 and 2015 alone clothing production nearly doubled—skyrocketing from 50 billion pieces a year to over 100 billion. Accompanying this mass production is also a huge amount of waste; the amount of clothing Americans dispose of annually has tripled during that same time frame.
The promise of globalization — affluent consumers get cheap goods and burgeoning economies get jobs and a way out of poverty — is broken. It’s proven to be little more than rabid consumerism, a sanctioned human rights violation, and an environmental disaster.
We thank the ILRF and Global Labor Justice — who merged in 2020— The Worker Rights Consortium and United Students Against Sweatshops for their tireless work in tracking and exposing the most egregious fast fashion violators and the rippling effects of their abuses.
Worx is Part of the Solution
Ethical labor and high quality is at the center of everything we do — from the people we employ to our environmental impact, we’re dedicated to fostering an industry and economy that combats exploitation and recognizes the essential role that working people play in creating wealth and successful business.
As an employee-owned company and a vital player in the growing union co-op movement, Worx is aimed to help revolutionize the garment and merchandise industry.
We proudly stand in a centuries long line of union- and worker-led efforts, from organzing to policy-making and protests, that have reimagined how American labor can—and should—work.
A (Brief) History of Union Coops
Just 200 years ago, the vast majority of working American people were self-employed; they were a mix of farmers, artisans, merchants and makers. Today? Nearly everyone is an employee.
So how did we get here? Learn the history of the union worker cooperative movement.
Worx Here and Now
Although Ben Cohen’s Sweatx project inspired our union cooperative, Worx leaders have been blessed to consult with and offer strategies, technical assistance and industry knowledge to many other groups fighting for the same reasons:
United Students Against Sweatshop, Workers Rights Consortium, ILRF – Sweatfree Communities, AFL-CIO Solidarity Center, Just Garments in El Salvador, Alta Gracia in Dominican Republic, Bono’s fashion brand Edun and Matt Damon’s production facility Industrial Revolution II in Haiti.
Most recently, Worx has consulted with the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, “dedicated to mobilizing the federal government’s policies, programs, and practices to empower workers to organize and successfully bargain with their employers.”
Worx will serve as a trusted sounding board in how best to mobilize the federal government’s programs, policies, and practices to support worker power, organizing, collective bargaining and the future of the labor movement.
If you are working on a like-minded project, please contact us and we would be happy to offer our thoughts and expertise.
Unparalleled possibilities using the most advanced digital printing technology on the planet. From screen-printing to sparkles, we’ve got it all.
If you need big numbers fast for a meeting, a march, or your band’s album release party – and anything in between – Worx can make that happen.
Our touchless order fulfilment eliminates the hassle and brings the hustle. All you do is dream up your design – it’s as simple as 1, 2, 3...shipped!
On Demand Stores
Forget unsold inventory and eliminate financial risk — only print what you’ve sold. Submit your designs and we’ll make and sell your merchandise.
With our partner Fii Marketing, Worx has developed the most comprehensive database of USA and Union Made printed products in the country.