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Submitted by Administrator on Tue, 02/19/2008 - 5:02pm
A Worker Coop Promotes
A Worker Coop Promotes
Green Energy in New England
"PV Squared"--Pioneer Valley Photovoltaics Cooperative--is a worker cooperative providing turnkey renewable energy system installations at homes, businesses, municipalities and institutions.
We are an example of an enterprise that is part of the growing economy of worker cooperatives and democratic workplaces. Nationally, thousands of people work in them, thousands more patronize them. They reflect a gro
wing movement to create a real economic alternative to "business as usual".
But what are they, exactly? A worker cooperative like PV S
quared is a business entity that is owned and controlled by the people who work in it. Workers own the business together. They usually invest an amount of money when they join the business as members. At the end of each year, worker-owners are paid a portion of the money the business makes after expenses.
In a worker cooperative such as PV Squared, decisions are made d
emocratically, by the people who do the work (usually by consensus or by following the principle of "one worker, one vote") instead of by an authoritative person or group. Worker-control can take many forms depending on the size and type of the business. There are many ways to make decisions democratically; each worker-owned business creates the structure that is best suited to it.
Worker co-ops in the economy
When we advocate "Solar Power for Sustainable Communitie
s", we don’t regard it as a mere slogan. PV Squared has created good jobs installing clean energy technology that adds to the local economy in western Massachusetts and Connecticut. In the United States, democratic workplaces are doing the same across the country, with the greatest concentrations in the Northeast, the West Coast and the Upper Midwest. The majority of worker cooperatives in the United States are small businesses, with a few notable larger enterprises. We estimate that there are over 300 democratic workplaces in the US, employing over 3,500 people and generatin
g over $400 million in annual revenues. The number of workers cooperatives has grown steadily over the past 20 years, and is made up of both well-established businesses and new, growing ones. Recently there has been tremendous growth in the fields of technology and health care in particular.
How are worker co-ops different from "regular" businesses? In many
ways, worker co-ops operate just like conventional businesses: they develop a product or service and offer it for sale to the public, with the goal of making enough money to support the business and its owners. They incorporate with the state, get a business license, pay state and federal taxes, have payroll and benefits, and do all the things that businesses do.
But there are some very important differences in how they do all this. Worker cooperatives like PV Squared tend to create long-term stable jobs, employ sustainable business practices, and are strongly connected and accountable to their community.In a worker cooperative, the workers own their jobs and thus have a direct stak
e in the local environment as well as the power to do business in a way that benefits their local community
Walk into PV Squared’s offices in Greenfield, MA or in New Britain, CT and you'll immediately sense the difference: the workers look happy to be working there, they are committed to the business as owners, and the business itself is connected to the local community in a significant way.
Want to talk to someone about worker coops?
Contact Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org