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Worker co-op’s only fair workplace

author: kristian fergusonnews editor

Both are incredibly important to me, but only one of them makes sure I can eat.

Being a working student, I have found it really hard to manage balancing the work I need to do to survive, and the work I need to do to better my education. Both are incredibly important to me, but only one of them makes sure I can eat. It has become quite the hassle to try to better my life when I am expected to also work for 40 hours a week.

Now, the easiest summation of the solution to this problem would be for me to say “full communism,” and while I whole-heartedly agree with that, it is likely that I won’t see that for at least a few years. So, in the meantime, a good first step is to democratize the workplace.

Economics professor Richard Wolff has a marvelous quote that I am trying to recall from memory and will probably butcher that goes along the lines of “how can we claim to be a democracy when most of our daily lives are spent in a dictatorial workplace?”

The fundamental structure and hierarchy of the standard capitalist workplace often has the worker, the lowest rung on the corporate ladder, bearing the load of the company as well as the load of the labour needed to maintain the company. Employees generate almost all of the revenue and yet are paid a pittance of the profit they produce. This is Marx’s Labour Theory of Value in a really roundabout way of talking, so I highly suggest you go look it up.

A worker’s co-op, alternatively, is the only truly democratic method of work where all working members of the co-op have equal say in the daily operations of the business, but also share in all of the profits of the business. You are always compensated for the labour you put in. On top of that, the worker’s co-op is without bosses or direct “superiors;” no one to have to supplicate yourself to, in other words. All employees have an equal say and equal representation in the workplace.

All workers are ultimately interested in what is going to be best for them, rather than shareholders who do little more than extract the maximum amount of profit to line their pockets and generate zero value or labour for the company.

For example, Leeds Bread Cooperative was part of a marvelous video detailing the benefits and the joys that come from being a part of a worker’s cooperative that I also recommend you all look up.

Now, I fully understand that a worker’s cooperative is still capitalist while under a capitalist system and no company will survive without earning a profit. However, this is just a first step to show workers that they are worth more than the starvation wages that they are given currently. It will show workers to not put up with exploitation of their labour and, hopefully, encourage other workers to seek out other cooperatives to support or start.

Capitalism is not the end of human history, there is so much more we can accomplish as people that we do not need corporations and the bourgeoisie for.

About Kristian Ferguson

Studies English at the U of R and works as a sales representative at Telus Communications Inc.