This website teaches someone how they can be a sucessful co-op member in a worker cooperative. The co-op showcased here opened its doors in August 2009 and is the first resturant/catering company worker owner cooperative in the Gainesville, Florida area. Civilization hopes to inspire others to also follow a more democratic, greedless business model.
According to the US Federation Worker Cooperatives website (www.usworker.coop 2009) "there are approximately over 300 democratic workplaces in the United States, employing over 3,500 people and generating over $400 million in annual revenues."
Democratic approaches are at the forefront of almost every worker cooperative business. The idea of having the worker be invested more financially, physically, and emotionally is the epitome of this business model. No longer are workers simply workers!
For a business to be considered a worker controlled, workers buy-into the business in various forms and are in turn also owners of the business. The amount of surplus that is generated at the end of the year is given back to the worker-owners depending on many factors, such as the percentage of time each member worked throughout the year, the amount of responsibility Decision making is based on majority or consensus rule, however there can be different arrangements of who votes on the decisions. For example, there can be a board of directors, managerial decision-making, no managerial set-up, or many combinations.
The idea of groups of people working together for the good of community and each other is actually not a new concept. The Native American Indians were the first to show signs of communal working environments. Anywhere from gathering food for the entire tribe to elected male elders that unanimous made decision regarding their tribe; Native Americans exhibited cooperative behaviors. Even the Pilgrims from 1620-1623 worked in a cooperative type setting. They would farm and store their crops in a central warehouse for all Pilgrims to use (http://www.red-coral.net/WorkCoops.html 1980).
“This is an exciting time for the worker cooperative model, which is growing, expanding, and diversifying. It’s a real, practical alternative way of doing business that puts people before profit. It’s a solution, and solutions are something we need more of,” says from Melissa Hoover the Executive Director for US Federation Worker Cooperatives (2009).