If yearly bonuses, choosing your boss and enjoying your job appeal to you, there is a wonderland of worker owned cooperatives that you might find of interest. Cooperatives take many forms but those owned by the workers is a growing segment of the New Economy, a movement that puts people, community and the planet first.
As someone with a long time interest in the New Economy and a videographer, who has interviewed people around the country participating in it, I am impressed with what is happening on the ground in many towns and cities. Three examples of fun, interesting, and financially sustainable worker owned cooperatives are:
Black Star Brewpub Cooperative in Austin, TX: Black Star started as an idea for a neighborhood beer bar that would be owned by the community it served. It is self-managed by the workers, who receive livable wages and excellent benefits i.e., a Line Cook earns $12 hour; health and dental benefits; IRA discounts, paid time off and leadership opportunities. Co-founder Steven Yarak publicized the idea on the internet and on neighborhood fliers. On January 14, 2006, 16 people attended a meeting in an empty lot adjacent to a friend’s house and the cooperative was born. http://bit.ly/2bwWxI1
Tenant Harbor Lobster Cooperative in Maine: Twenty lobstermen formed a cooperative to boost profits by splitting the overhead costs of running a dock and by eliminating middlemen in the lobster’s route from trap to table. A Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) helped make members’ livelihoods sustainable by putting a working waterfront easement on the property modeled after a conservation easement, which guarantees that the land will always be used for local commercial fishing. Recent good news for the Cooperative was Cape Seafood’s agreement to buy everything hauled by the Cooperative and to open a restaurant there on the wharf and share 50% of the profits. http://bit.ly/2bMtTRN
Ohio Cooperative Solar in Cleveland, a partner member of the Evergreen Cooperatives, is entirely worker-owned by citizens who “face barriers to employment”. It provides solar power and weatherizing techniques to customers including Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve University and City of Cleveland. Launched in 2009, it was profitable within its first five months in business. Evergreen Cooperatives, a national model for large scale worker owned cooperatives, also include a commercial laundry and Green City Growers. http://bit.ly/2bwWzj3
Cooperatives offer various models for workers to equitably share the profits from their skills and efforts as well as in the business decisions affecting their livelihoods and futures. The cooperatives are a bright spot on the horizon of the emerging New Economy, which is based on the wellbeing of people, communities and planet.
Three ways you can learn more:
- Browse the web: Resources for worker cooperatives’ support organizations and information on models and best practices. http://bit.ly/2bMwbx
- Read PDF: How-to Guide For Starting A Worker Co-op http://bit.ly/2bMBthh
- Organize Round Table: Over 100 cities are interested in Evergreen Cooperatives and hosting Round Tables of community leaders. Evergreen staff member, Jessica Bonanno is working with cities to assist them on Evergreen type strategies. Jbonanno@democracycollaborative.org
I’m always on the lookout for positive news on the New Economy. Here’s a recent sign on the national scene of the growing importance of cooperatives to the economy. The bipartisan Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus has been formed to promote the cooperative business model as a viable market solution and policy option. Let’s make sure they actually DO SOMETHING. Contact your senator and ask him or her to join. http://bit.ly/2bRc82Z
Jan Roberts –Social Change Agent-Creator of Sustainability Programs –VideographerFounder & President Cultural Innovations Agency; Founder Emerita Earth Charter US; Former Adjunct Professor, College of Business at University of Tampa & Author Operation Road Trip: How a Video Camera, a Bottle of Rum and a Car Renewed My Faith in the Future. http://amzn.to/2bDQH4P @opbonappetit https://operationbonappetit.org/