Worker Owned Cooperatives

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facilitated by Mark Libkuman

Coops Present

This was a free-ranging conversation, but the topics discussed were:

Power and structure

  • Acknowledging power, and the tyranny of structurelessness.
  • Balance of informality with respect and structure
  • There's no boss versus we're all the boss. Accountability practices to keep from taking too many liberties when there's no boss.
  • Creating a structure that everyone can agree on.
  • Challenges of diversity of roles; decoupling power structure from income.
  • Having formalized community agreements/rules of operation.

Operations and self-care

  • Running a the coop like professional services firm rather than reinventing the wheel, learning from the partnership model.
  • Selling labor: selling hours leads to internalizing market dynamics
  • Making work fun?directing the companies strategies toward what the workers find interesting.
  • Caring about the worker as a whole person, their health, their family (however defined).

Pay

  • One approach: Straight hourly wages; each worker gets paid the same wage, but more or less depending on total hours worked; patronage is distributed according to hours worked.
  • Another approach: Flat monthly paycheck.
  • Pay structure can reinforce power dynamics.
  • Patronage/profit-sharing: how to deal with it.
  • Questions about tracking time internally, both billable and non-billable.