As Sarah van Gelder pointed out recently, 2014 research by the Pew Center found that 78 percent of Americans believe that too much power is concentrated in the hands of a few huge companies. More than half—62 percent—believe our current economic system is rigged in favor of those with the most power.
That belief, backed by the reality of gaping inequality and downward pressure on most Americans’ wealth and wages has led many people to look for ways, not only to ameliorate the pain and pressures of business-as-usual, but to find new ways of doing business. Worker-owned cooperatives, where workers are offered a share in the company and a say in decision-making, are one way to make the workplace more democratic. The most successful cooperatives have a good record of reducing inequality and building local assets, but co-ops aren’t easy, and they aren’t for everybody.
A year ago, GRITtv and TESA the Toolbox for Education and Social Action teamed up to look more closely at what it takes for a worker-owned cooperative to get started, and to succeed. The result is Own the Change: Building Economic Democracy One Worker Co-op at a Time.
Would practicing workplace democracy and working together be easier if our media and our education system gave us as many visions of collaboration as they do of competition? What if we were encouraged to participate in our communities as much as we are pushed to purchase stuff? If we measured prosperity not by how high we could pile up resources, but how widely we could spread them out, would our heroes, not to mention our economy look different?
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We believe so. Own the Change: Building Economic Democracy One Worker Co-op at a Time is one contribution to a broader vision.
Visit grittv.org for more information on worker owned cooperatives, and how you could start, or transition your business to cooperative ownership.