We live in a world where wealth is divided unevenly between Owners and Workers. Workers often earn a tiny fraction of the money that business owners take in. And workers often lose their jobs when businesses downsize, move overseas, or close altogether…While the business owners keep the profits from these changes.
It may seem hopeless to those affected by this state of affairs. But there is a potential solution which is brought to attention in October each year.
October is National Co-op Month.
In Worker Co-ops, the people doing the work make the decisions affecting their businesses. And they keep the profits.
Worker Co-ops may be started from scratch by people who see a common need. Or they may be created from an existing business that is being sold or closed down. When a business owner decides to sell or close a business, converting to a Co-op could be a way for the workers to keep their jobs.
The workers of Casa Que Pasa did this 30 years ago. When the business shut down, they started the Co-op that is now Casa Nueva.
The owners of the newly formed Co-op had to acquire training in (and create new systems for) business governance and democratic decision making. After 30 years, we’re still creating, updating, and changing those practices. And we share what we’ve learned and created with anyone…especially those who are interested in building their own Worker Co-ops.
Although starting a new business my be scary, starting out as a Co-op can be less risky than a single proprietorship because financial risk is spread amongst all the owners. And because business decisions are made by a group of people with varying skills and expertise, Co-ops are often more resilient than other businesses.
There are plenty of resources to help you get started. You can always talk with Worker-Owners of Casa if you want information.
Or you can get information from other groups, like the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC), that provide assistance with lots of issues pertaining to Worker Co-ops.
National Co-op month only comes once a year. But Co-ops are getting off the ground and running all the time. We can always work toward the ideals of putting decision-making in the hands of the people who are affected by those decisions…And spreading the wealth amongst the workers.