Co-op Series Part I: Our decision to pursue worker-ownership

Bocoup is incorporated in the United States – a country with no worker safety net. The damning scarcity of federally protected labor rights means that employers are often the ones determining whether workers get quality health care, a fair wage, or time off after having a child. Companies in most states are protected by anti-worker laws like Right to Work and comfortably rely on dubious management practices like mandatory arbitration without fear of accountability.

How is it possible to be mission driven within this context? How can a company claim to advocate for inclusion, accessibility, and justice in a system designed to function at its workers’ expense? In order to effectively advance our mission, don’t we first need to ensure its ethos is reflected in the experiences of every person providing the labor?

By right, this problem should be solved at the broader systemic level. In the meantime, workers have identified effective methods for partially addressing it within their own companies. Unionizing is one popular and impactful approach. Another is worker ownership. Both are grounded in the principles of shared power and democratic control, and both reduce employer authority over major decisions impacting the livelihood of workers.

In 2020, in this spirit of shared power and with unwavering respect for those who paved the way, Bocoup committed to transitioning toward a worker-owned cooperative model. We believe this is a critical first step toward counteracting the unjust constraints on workers and enabling us to collectively and effectively pursue our mission.

Our intention with this series is to share resources and progress reports on our path to worker ownership. Our next post will highlight key takeaways in our first two years of planning, culminating in our recent membership with The United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC). As we go, we will also seek and share opportunities to support the broader labor movement.

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