Worker-Owned Cooperatives Can Succeed

The CEO of a nonprofit expressed how conflicted she was about being a white woman running a business with mostly Latina/o workers. Her conflict was rooted in a sense of social justice that was pulling her in two directions. On the one hand, she had been told all her life that, as a woman, she is less valuable than men. So being a female CEO is, in itself, a kind of achievement. On the other hand, she recognized that she is a white woman who’s essentially the boss of a bunch of Latina/o workers who she doesn’t pay that much. She hoped to find a way to address this issue.

After the workshop, I asked her if she would consider sharing decision-making power with her workers so they could vote on things such as compensation. She said no because, “They’d definitely vote for me to get paid less, but I get paid what I’m worth.”

I don’t think her opinion is controversial or uncommon. But workplace democracy, in theory and practice, is both controversial and uncommon — even in a supposedly progressive community such as ours.

Read the rest at The Santa Barbara Independent

 

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