Why Are Worker Co-operatives Rising in the United States?

by Robin Latta and Lindsay Mathews, PAR readers

One person, one vote.

How would you like to vote for who your next work supervisor will be? Do you think you should have a say in how much you and your co-workers make? And, do you believe you have a right to vote on what you need to stay safe in your workplace?

These democratic rights are yours if you are part owner of a worker co-operative.

Visualize yourself as a partner in a worker-owned co-operative. As a partner, you get to vote on your own and your co-partners wages, working conditions, and where the profits of the enterprise go. Not only that, but people who are partners in a worker co-operative have a different, more personal, motivating approach to their work because they are working for themselves!

The basic structure of worker co-operatives makes the workers feel as though they have their shoes on straight instead of backward. This may sound like a worker’s paradise, but democracy is hard. It’s difficult.

The alternative, however, is corporate power acting like Santa Claus. Here the bosses and corporate thieves gift to the workers what they will receive from the fruits of their labors. Although a union in a corporate workplace advances workers’ rights, for those of us who want a truly democratic workplace, co-operatives can be the better choice.

In the US, corporate Santas/CEOs are paid over 300 times as much as the typical worker. In New Haven, corporate-owned Subway and Ann Taylor recently closed. Had they been worker co-operatives, the workers would have been able to make the decisions needed to keep everyone employed proving, again, that worker co-operatives are more resilient even during tough times.

Visualize a worker cooperative at the North Pole!

Suggested resources:

Valley Alliance of Worker Co-operatives, (413) 268-5800 or info@valleyworker.coop
United States Federation of Worker Co-ops, (415) 292-7277
or info@usworker.coop

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