How worker ownership builds community wealth and a more just society
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Waging Nonviolence
Posted: September 3rd, 2023
Community wealth building initiatives are taking hold in cities across the world, strengthening worker pay, local economies and democracy. A recent help-wanted ad for a laundry worker in Cleveland contained some unusual language, asking prospective candidates: “Have you ever wanted to work for a company that is 90 percent employee-owned?” The ad went on to identify Evergreen Cooperative Laundry as the only employee-owned commercial laundry firm in the country, citing a commitment to building the wealth and careers of its employees. The cooperative movement in the Rust Belt city of Cleveland has deep roots in community struggle for shared wealth. Its earliest origins are in the Mondragon co-op movement of the Basque Country in northern Spain, where tens of thousands of workers are organized into a vast co-op network that has flourished since the 1950s. Here in the U.S., when steel companies were closing down throughout the Ohio Valley in the 1970s ... a small band of activists promoted the idea of worker ownership. The model is a simple one: First, identify anchor institutions — hospitals, universities, seats of government — that are not going to relocate in search of higher profits and incentivize them to do their procurement of supplies and services locally, so that those dollars stay at home. Then, make regulatory, financing and policy changes that support the growth of cooperatives to supply their needs, so that the business profits stay with the workers.
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