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Thu Apr 3, 2014, 08:40 AM

Professor Richard Wolff: Who Needs a Boss?



by Richard Wolff and Sheila Dewan.
Published on March 25, 2014


If you happen to be looking for your morning coffee near Golden Gate Park and the bright red storefront of the Arizmendi Bakery attracts your attention, congratulations. You have found what the readers of The San Francisco Bay Guardian, a local alt-weekly, deem the city’s best bakery. But it has another, less obvious, distinction. Of the $3.50 you hand over for a latte (plus $2.75 for the signature sourdough croissant), not one penny ends up in the hands of a faraway investor. Nothing goes to anyone who might be tempted to sell out to a larger bakery chain or shutter the business if its quarterly sales lag.

Instead, your money will go more or less directly to its 20-odd bakers, who each make $24 an hour — more than double the national median wage for bakers. On top of that, they get health insurance, paid vacation and a share of the profits. “It’s not luxury, but I can sort of afford living in San Francisco,” says Edhi Rotandi, a baker at Arizmendi. He works four days a week and spends the other days with his 2-year-old son.

Arizmendi and its five sister bakeries in the Bay Area are worker-owned cooperatives, an age-old business model that has lately attracted renewed interest as a possible antidote to some of our most persistent economic ills. Most co-ops in the U.S. are smaller than Arizmendi, with around a dozen employees, but the largest, Cooperative Home Care Associates in the Bronx, has about 2,000. That’s hardly the organizational structure’s upper limit. In fact, Arizmendi was named for a Spanish priest and labor organizer in Basque country, José María Arizmendiarrieta. He founded what eventually became the Mondragon Corporation, now one of the region’s biggest employers, with more than 60,000 members and 14 billion euro in revenue. And it’s still a co-op.

In a worker co-op, the workers own the business and decide what to do with the profits (as opposed to consumer co-ops, which are typically stores owned by members who shop at a discount). Historically, worker co-ops have held the most appeal when things seem most perilous for laborers. The present is no exception. And yet, despite their ability to empower workers, co-ops remain largely relegated to boutique status in the United States. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://rdwolff.com/content/who-needs-boss



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Reply Professor Richard Wolff: Who Needs a Boss? (Original post)
marmar Apr 2014 OP
bobduca Apr 2014 #1
vanlassie Apr 2014 #2
SoCalDem Apr 2014 #3
el_bryanto Apr 2014 #4
xchrom Apr 2014 #5
Triana Apr 2014 #6
saidsimplesimon Apr 2014 #7
2banon Apr 2014 #8
NaturalHigh Apr 2014 #9

Response to marmar (Original post)

Thu Apr 3, 2014, 08:47 AM

1. Kick for Arizmendi Co-ops! The Cheese Board

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Thu Apr 3, 2014, 08:51 AM

2. I eat Arizmendo pizza and their cherry cornmeal scones every opportunity I get.

Always excellent food and service. And sometimes, the cashier sings!

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Thu Apr 3, 2014, 09:12 AM

3. This is how businesses USED to operate

First comes the true family business, where every worker is related.

Then , if they were successful, they had to hire extra non-family.

At some point, many were satisfied with their success and worked to provide a service/product, and to support their families....

The whole make-money-over-everything-else, and lie-cheat-steal to do it method is a more recent idea.

I think that television, coupled with "Mad Men" style advertisers (post-war) created the mess we now live with.

"Shopping" used to be more simple..

...." I need shoes..let's go to the shoe store and see what they have"....
...." We need food, let's go to the grocery store"...

Are we better off now?.. Were we shoeless before?.. Did we have no cars to drive, no food to eat, nowhere to have lunch, no way to buy tires, get gasoline, etc?

Before chain stores, malls, franchises, money circulated within the communities where the money was earned, where the store owners had their stores.

These days, when you buy that stuff at Walmart, a few cents goes to the underpaid workers, and the rest gets shoveled into a faraway bank account of some unseen gazillionaire, who is happy to have slave-waged foreigners making their products.

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Response to SoCalDem (Reply #3)

Thu Apr 3, 2014, 09:20 AM

4. Henry Ford's model writ large

In fairness, once you have the idea of mechanization and of the corporation, I don't know that you could really go back at that point. For things like bakeries, the co-op model makes sense, but what about things like Cell Phones or Laptops or Cars?

the Co-op model is pretty appealing though, particularly in comparison to what we have now.

Bryant

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Thu Apr 3, 2014, 09:31 AM

5. du rec.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Thu Apr 3, 2014, 09:56 AM

6. Mmmm... Nom Nom Nom!

 

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Thu Apr 3, 2014, 11:02 AM

7. Sick of big mall stores? I am. The co-op model works for basic needs, like food.

imho, we should support local, non-corporate retail stores whenever possible.


We will always need and should require government regulation or support in areas of national interest (fuel, insurance, banking, and investment managers, for example).

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Thu Apr 3, 2014, 11:02 AM

8. Big Arizmendi Fan here!

 

Excellent Pizza at a reasonable price too.. I always knew it was co-op, but didn't know the history.. thanks for this very inspiring post! applause:

Hello Bay Area Comrades!!

K&R

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Thu Apr 3, 2014, 11:48 AM

9. Cool. I wish we had one here.

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