Along with our endorsements, we discuss how worker cooperatives offer a different way of organizing business, a way that benefits communities, benefits workers, benefits customers, and isn’t organized around profit.
Before we look at the effectiveness of worker cooperatives and their resilience to economic disruptions, we have a few announcements. For those viewing on laptops, our endorsements appear on the right. On a phone, our endorsements are found at the bottom of the post.
Zoominar TONIGHT 6:30 – 8:00 pm with Common Cause, NM Ethics Watch & Former NM State Senator Dede Feldman a panel discussion on the pernicious influence of the gas & oil industry in the NM State Legislature and what you can do about it. Click here for more info and to pre-register. To ensure a “seat” in the Zoom Room, you MUST pre-register, and the room is almost full.
Worker Cooperatives: What Can Happen When Workers and Customers are More Important Than Profit
For some time, Retake Our Democracy has been advocating for new systems and structures to organize our workforce and our economy. The forces currently organizing our systems are neo-liberal capitalist. The mega rich and their mega corporations make business decisions and advocate for legislative and regulatory policies that benefit their well-being and profit. Since the 1980s, the “essential workers” who are the drivers of the economy and of corporate profit have been largely left out of these business decisions, with workers increasingly being treated like exchangeable and disposable parts.
Our economy is in free fall, and workers and small businesses who drive our economy are being discarded to an unprecedented degree. If you use the stock market as your gauge, we are back, the market is trending up, albeit with weekly hiccups. But the Dow has always been a measure of corporate profit, not the health of local economies. If you turn to unemployment numbers, you see a much different picture. So far, more than 33 million U.S. jobs have been lost during the coronavirus shutdown, compared to the roughly 8.6 million lost in the Great Recession. Stop and think about that for a moment. Over 4 times as many jobs lost in the last two months than during the Great Recession.
Corporations have been buffered from this crisis with trillions of dollars of relief aid while cities, states, and individuals struggle mightily. There is research emerging, however, that alternatives to the current CEO/owner-managed business model can better serve workers and local communities.
In the future, we will assess the degree to which a wide range of structures from municipally owned utilities, food production, transportation, banking, and other businesses could be successfully adopted by cities, regions, and states. If you want to read more on this topic from prior posts, check out the column at right (or if viewing by phone, at the bottom of this post).
Two years ago, when Roxanne and I visited over two dozen cities across the nation, one of our focuses was on worker-owned co-ops. We were struck by how differently these co-ops operated, how differently employees were treated, how the employee perspective drove business decisions, and how all of this benefited both workers and community. Truthout spoke with Esteban Kelly, executive director of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, for a recent article, “Pandemic Crash Shows Worker Co-ops Are More Resilient Than Traditional Business.”
“Traditional firms, when times are good, they take that surplus, they distribute it to the investors or maybe pay off debt, but they don’t necessarily do a lot of bonus pay for rank-and-file or increase wages,” Kelly told Truthout. “When times are bad, they panic. And then maybe they get bailed out, maybe they declare bankruptcy … but it’s basically a model of austerity. They’re slashing jobs and benefits.”Truthout: “Pandemic Crash Shows Worker Co-ops Are More Resilient Than Traditional Business”
Kelly went on to outline how worker-owned cooperatives operate in both boom and bust cycles with the well-being of the worker centered in all business decisions. As a result, there is a shared worker investment in the business operations. And there is growing international research that suggests that worker co-ops are a far more resilient business structure than the traditional corporate structure. From Truthout:
“One 2019 study found that worker cooperatives in the United States survive through their first six to 10 years at a rate 7 percent higher than traditional small businesses. And in 2012, research revealed that in France and Spain, worker cooperatives “have been more resilient than conventional enterprises during the economic crisis” that followed the 2008 crash. Another study of businesses in Uruguay from 1997 – 2009 demonstrated that “the hazard of dissolution is 29% lower” for worker-managed firms. In fact, as documented by the Sustainable Economies Law Center, there is a growing body of evidence that shows across the world, cooperatives in general are a more resilient business model.”Truthout: “Pandemic Crash Shows Worker Co-ops Are More Resilient Than Traditional Business”
We will be adding endorsements over the next 4 days.
Senate District 35
Sen. Dist 35: Neomi Martinez-Parra, our choice over Sen. John Arthur Smith. To read why we endorse Martinez-Parra, click here.
Senate District 38
Sen. Dist. 38: Carrie Hamblen, our choice over Sen. Mary Kay Papen. To read why we endorse Hamblen, click here.
More Endorsements Coming
Endorsement statements are coming soon for the following candidates:
US CD 3: Teresa Leger Fernandez, our clear choice, over several other good candidates.
Sen. Dist. 4: Noreen Ann Kelly, our choice over Sen. George Muñoz.
Sen. Dist. 5: Leo Jaramillo, our choice over Sen. Richard Martinez.
Sen. Dist 8: Connie Trujillo, our choice over Sen. Pete Campos.
Sen. Dist. 28: Siah Correa Hemphill, our choice over Sen. Gabriel Ramos.
Sen. District 30: Pam Cordova, our choice over Sen. Clemente Sanchez.
More on Worker Co-ops
Worker Co-ops, An Alternative to Amazon
Click here to read our Aug. 2018 post on democratizing the workforce.
New Vision for Democratizing the Economy in NM
Click here to read our Sept. 2019 post on how new
co-op structures could democratize the NM economy.
The Truthout piece goes on to interview representatives from a wide range of worker-owned cooperatives, laying out how these co-ops are weathering the Covid-driven recession, how workers are included in all business decisions, and how cooperatives are overcoming the challenges imposed by social distancing requirements.To read the full Truthout piece (highly recommended), please click here.
Covid has caused us to realize that the local workforce is comprised of “essential workers” not disposable parts. Hopefully, this jolt will result in a greater receptivity to worker-owned co-ops and other business structures, alternatives that are more humanistic, personal, and just, alternatives that distribute resources and profits equitably, to the significant benefit of workers and local communities.
We will continue to research alternative models of small business structures like worker-owned cooperatives over the coming months. We will also examine how larger scale city, county, and state municipalization of industries could bring even greater economic justice to our communities. If you are interested in being part of this research, please write to us at RetakeResponse@gmail.com.
Paul & Roxanne