Author Archives

Joan Meyers

New book

Working Democracies: Reducing inequality with participatory bureaucracy and pluralistic worker identity

August 18, 2022

Is worker ownership the way to eliminate workplace inequalities?

While organizational scholars here and elsewhere have long focused on the range of mechanisms that create and maintain a variety of social inequalities within workplaces, the context of capitalism and investor-owned firms minimizing worker voice and power is generally treated as a given.

However, an alternative form of enterprise exists: worker cooperatives, businesses owned and democratically controlled by their workers. Although worker cooperatives are still a small proportion of U.S. enterprises, an estimated 4,700 workers in as many as 1000 worker cooperatives produced over US$238 million in revenue in 2020. Indeed, as part of the anti-inequality activism that arose from the Great Recession, worker cooperative numbers have essentially doubled in the last decade across multiple industrial sectors, increasingly with the support of unions and local municipalities, and have shown great resilience during the pandemic years. Under conditions of worker ownership and control, we might assume resistance to and disruption of the kinds of class, ethnoracial, and gender inequalities that have been central to these social movements and their organizations.

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