The Marxist tenet of seizing the means of production is slowly catching on in its own way in the United States. Worker cooperatives, where employees vote on management decisions, have nearly doubled in number in the past ten years, according to Coop which reports on the leftist business model.
Congress even passed the first law directed at employee-owned companies this past August. The bill makes it easier for traditional businesses to shift towards worker cooperatives, said Anh-thu Nguyen, director of Special Projects for the Democracy at Work Institute.
“The new legislation offers a huge opportunity too, for business owners who have to self-finance, that are selling their business, to sell to their employees,” Nguyen told WikiTribune
Stagnant wages and widening wealth inequality have helped the worker cooperative model gain momentum in an America with a growing respect for democratic socialism. But whether this radical concept actually improves the lives of workers is debatable – it certainly isn’t a guarantee.
There is evidence worker cooperatives are more productive than their traditional counterparts. (The Nation). But getting to that point of functionality is rare. Many worker cooperatives have failed to stay financially solvent, others have decided against switching away from traditional ownership, as pointed at by a study from Geo Coop. Some current examples have complained of a lack of order and the extra work of a truly democratic management system (The Atlantic).
WikiTribune will be reporting on this growing business model.
Ideas to pursue
- Can worker cooperatives replace unions?
- How is a worker cooperative set up?
- Are worker cooperatives at a disadvantage because financial institutions don’t approve of and/or approve of their business structure. (From Henry Harington)
- Can cooperative banks succeed as an alternative financial institution.
- Add another…