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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/15/10

Worker Cooperatives--a genuine Third Way

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Message Brian Cooney
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The structure of ownership and control in most American corporations is seriously flawed. It creates an adversarial relationship between workers and those who own or manage workplaces. Fortunately, a better alternative is emerging in the U.S. and elsewhere.

This alternative is a genuine "third way," different from both socialism and capitalism as usually understood. It is workers owning their workplaces, especially in the form of worker cooperatives.

A worker cooperative is not socialist. It is a private enterprise, owned by those who do its work, and competing in a free market. A system based on worker cooperatives is not capitalist, since it refuses to treat workplaces as commodities to be bought and sold by outsiders.

In a typical American corporation owners are shareholders whose interests are represented by a board of directors who oversee hired management. The goal of the corporation is to maximize the returns of shareholders on their investment. The goal of its workers is to maximize their income and benefits (at a cost to the corporation).

Managers typically see workers as lacking managerial and entrepreneurial skills. Moreover, workers have no direct or intrinsic interest in the goal of the corporation (profits for investors). So they must be closely supervised and motivated by some combination of rewards and penalties.

Management tends to resist unionization for the obvious reason: union demands will add to the labor costs of the corporation, reducing profits. Moreover, if unions don't get what they want, they threaten to damage the company by striking.

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Brian Cooney Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I'm a retired philosophy professor at Centre College. My last book was Posthumanity-Thinking Philosophically about the Future (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004). I am an anti-capitalist.

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