Mike Cooley is an Irish-born engineer and former trade union leader, best known for his involvement in workplace activism at the British company Lucas Aerospace in the late 1970s. In 1981, he was a recipient of the Alternative Nobel Prize. Cooley was born in Tuam, Ireland, and studied engineering in Germany, Switzerland and England. He has held several leadership positions in the field of computer-aided design.
Towards the end of the 1970s, Mike Cooley was a senior designer at Lucas Aerospace, and chaired the local branch of the technical trade union TASS. He was one of the militant activists behind the Lucas Plan , a radical strategy to avoid workforce layoffs by converting production at Lucas from armaments to civilian products.
The vision of the plan was to replace weapons manufacture with the development of socially useful goods, like solar heating equipment, artificial kidneys, and systems for intermodal transportation. The goal was to not simply retain jobs, but to design the work so that the workers would be motivated by the social value of their activities. The proposals of the alternative plan were not accepted by Lucas management and, in 1981, Cooley was dismissed.