Worker Cooperatives

Empowering Workers Everywhere

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My Story

Finn MauritzenI have known about cooperatives my whole life growing up on a farm in Denmark. From the first day of my first job in one I knew that the model could and should be used in the workplace as well.

My first actual encounter with a worker cooperative came years later in the form of a book from the library: Birth of a Cooperative: Hoedads, Inc., a Worker Owned Forest Labor Co-Op. It is a very good way to become familiar with the concept. You see, the Hoedad founders did not know what we know today. They had to learn everything from scratch by trial and error. It is easy to think that forming or even just working in a worker coopeartive is easy and all your problems will be solved. That is just not the case. Being in community with others is hard. Conflicts will happen. Problems will pop up.

For many years I had a decent regular job and the urge to start a cooperative waned. From time to time I saw situations where a cooperative would be the perfect solution. For example, one day the local grocery store closed its doors and the nearest one was several miles away. A grocery co-op would have filled the gap very nicely. Another time an auto repair shop went up for sale and again at least to me the obvious solution would be for all the car owners in town to get together and buy it.

Recently, a friend has urged me to share what I know. With hiring practices becoming increasingly abusive, there obviously is a need not only for creating jobs, but also for workers to be able to take control of their work life. This time I have more time on my hands. The ground may be a little more fertile now that we have concrete examples of functioning worker and other types of cooperatives nearby.

Will you join me in empowering workers in our region?

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