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When Workers Own & Direct the Workplace – It’s Better Than a Labor Union!

Labor unions are good for the middle class. Worker owned co-ops are better.

Gaining & Losing Worker Benefits

When labor unions successfully gain worker benefits, business owners retaliate by striving to scale them back. Over time, bit by bit, wealthy corporations may influence government legislation in order to dilute worker benefits and to weaken labor unions.

“Fifty years ago,
nearly a third of U.S. workers belonged to a union.
Today, it’s one in 10.”
50 Years of Shrinking Union Membership, in One Map | NPR

The Labor Movement

Do you like the 40-hour work week and weekends? Do you hate child labor? Thank the labor unions. Check out the dramatic history of the American labor movement in the following video:

When employment conditions get too bad, yet another labor movement will manifest to renew the fight for worker rights. For example, today we have Fight for $15, a growing force that supports higher wages and union rights for underpaid workers. The group says, “It began in 2012 when two hundred fast-food workers walked off the job to demand $15/hr and union rights in New York City.” Correlating with the labor movement revival, retail giant Target recently announced that its minimum worker wage will reach $15/hr by 2020.

And so it goes. Labor is gaining a bit of momentum right now. However, the struggle between owners and employees will never end.

But there is another way.

Enter: The Worker Co-op

How is it different when workers own and direct the workplace? A vicious cycle is broken, and you no longer need labor unions to represent the interests of workers. Economist Prof. Richard D. Wolff lays it out in the video below…

“How can the Labor movement and the Worker Co-op movement help each other in their fight for workplace democracy? Economist Richard Wolff examines.” ~ Richard Wolff Briefly

Building a Strong Democracy

Worker owned and directed co-ops also strengthen national democracy. When people experience the procedures of on-the-job democracy, they become more savvy about the larger political sphere.

Co-op workers are less likely to fall for corporate and political party propaganda in terms of fair wages, worker safety, human rights, and environmental protections. After all, they are accustomed to making decisions that involve such issues and how their workplace intersects with the local community.

While building a profitable enterprise, co-op workers/owners/decision-makers are free to consider options that protect people and their quality-of-life. They can opt for healthy profits, instead of excessive profits, in order to promote the well-being of workers and their community at large.

In short, co-op workers acquire real experience dealing with real choices within a real democratic process. It makes them wise citizens.


Solutions to Problems