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Hi Everybody,

It's been awhile since I actively posted on the forum (ahh, the leisure of a Union job!) and life comes at you fast. I'm one of those fellas who can't stay out of politics -- I serve on my local board of ed and all that -- and I've found a way to combine organizing and painting, and hopefully putting more cash in our collective pockets.

I'm re-organizing as a worker owned cooperative. I've been researching, and planning, and right now I've got a small group having weekly calls, but the long and short of it is we're going to incorporate, and self-manage. I wanted to reach out to anyone who has experience or resources to learn and ask questions, and also if any of you are in the CT area and want to be more directly involved DM me. (If this is the wrong forum, mods, I'll move it to business)

I'd venture to say a lot of us are independent because we don't like bosses. And, as we all know, if you hit a wall in payscale many people go start taking their own contracts, at which point you've taken a good experienced painter, and created instead a mediocre inexperienced businessman. None of us can do it all. That's why medium-sized companies have certain advantages of scale. They've always got someone out doing estimates, for example, so they respond quickly. As such it makes more sense for them to advertise because they're better able to capitalize on the leads. And so on, and so forth. Insurance, licensure, tools, you name it -- there's an economy of scale to be had.

But none of us like the idea of working for an Owner who can fire you at will, and who won't pay you more than $18-20, and that's if you're leading the crew, and who profits greatly on your work.

So in a cooperative, every employee is also an owner, gets a say on the employee rulebook, and how much profit to take vs re-invest, and they also hire the manager rather than the owner hiring them. So if the manager messes up, you can "fire the boss". There is no "Boss" as such, just a manager who helps you do your job.

There's a bunch more specific stuff I have in mind for my co-op, such as limiting the size, and how we self-govern. And there's a lot more general info over at www.democracyatwork.info , where I'm getting a lot of useful material about co-ops.

Hit me up, I want to talk more.
- Jeff
 

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I wish you luck. Pretty bold move. The key would be finding the right people, for sure. I know that's true in any business, but none more so than a company equally owned & governed by its' members. Hope it all works out for you.
 

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The "right people" would certainly be not only in terms of knowledge/skills, but also work ethic. This can be solved and I also wish you luck with it. But do be careful.


Of course, many coops are quite successful. My favorite hardware store is an adjunct of an agricultural coop. It's the only place I know of where I can find people who want to help and know their a** from their elbow. I've been banking at a credit union for like thirty years because I'm a "member" not a "mark" (ahem - "customer").



No thanks!! I own my own show! No to Socialism!

As for "socialism" - ? Someone will have to explain to me how a bunch of independent citizens voluntarily participating in a particular kind of business model means "socialism." If the state isn't running it, then - well, it just ain't. So that comment is just about 100% irrelevant.
 

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The "right people" would certainly be not only in terms of knowledge/skills, but also work ethic. This can be solved and I also wish you luck with it. But do be careful.


Of course, many coops are quite successful. My favorite hardware store is an adjunct of an agricultural coop. It's the only place I know of where I can find people who want to help and know their a** from their elbow. I've been banking at a credit union for like thirty years because I'm a "member" not a "mark" (ahem - "customer").


As for "socialism" - ? Someone will have to explain to me how a bunch of independent citizens voluntarily participating in a particular kind of business model means "socialism." If the state isn't running it, then - well, it just ain't. So that comment is just about 100% irrelevant.
I understand WestKey's comment. Frankly, when I hear "Co-op", I think of a Utopian idea where everyone gets along and happily works together without any single authority over the collective. Then reality reminds me just how arrogant, selfish and greedy people really are. And how before long, some jackhat in the group is going to think he's smarter than everyone else and will want to take control, while some other sneaky member embezzles the treasury.

"Co op" holds too many 60's era hippy connotations for me to feel comfortable with it. I still prefer the meat and potatoes of capitalism and entrepreneurialism.
 

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I understand WestKey's comment. Frankly, when I hear "Co-op", I think of a Utopian idea where everyone gets along and happily works together without any single authority over the collective. Then reality reminds me just how arrogant, selfish and greedy people really are. And how before long, some jackhat in the group is going to think he's smarter than everyone else and will want to take control, while some other sneaky member embezzles the treasury.

"Co op" holds too many 60's era hippy connotations for me to feel comfortable with it. I still prefer the meat and potatoes of capitalism and entrepreneurialism.
Unfortunately for Jeff, this thread will likely end up getting killed because WestKyPainter sent it - quite unnecessarily - to "politics" with a meaningless and empty "socialism" reference.

All I'll say is, re-think what you think when you hear "co-op." Seriously - that hardware store I mentioned? Owned by an agricultural co-op. The main part of it is rural, outdoors-y supply for people who farm and fish and hunt. The people who work there and the bulk of the clientele are basically "rural conservative" - and the whole package of rural conservative. ( I won't say more for fear of being "political").

The central advantage of the co-op part is just that a bunch of people get together and figure out how to avoid having to bow down to private corporate behemoths like Monsanto or whatever, but are still able to leverage things like mass purchasing power. It's regular folks, trying to control their own lives rather than having the deck stacked against them.

If you think that the only source of putting people under the boot is the government, well...that distorted.

I'm not trying to be political and will likely bow out ...
 

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I'm guilty of bias because I've seen it abused in the guise of something good. One sign posted in Chaz Washington read "No-Cop Co-op". But thanks for helping me look at co op in a different light.
 

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I'm guilty of bias because I've seen it abused in the guise of something good. One sign posted in Chaz Washington read "No-Cop Co-op". But thanks for helping me look at co op in a different light.

Ah. We're all guilty of bias. I know where you're coming from, and it it 100% legit. It just depends.


I'm intrigued by jprefect's idea, but would still be hesitant to raise my hand if I was in any position to do so. Getting into something like that means a whole lot of knowledge about the others involved and total trust. But if I had a tight circle of people I knew that I could trust and the whole boat was just a snowball from that? Maybe... I think that's what's being tried.



Call it innovation. Might succeed. Might be a disaster.
 

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Absolutely not a problem with this convo involving political discussion. It just has to happen in the right sub forum. The outhouse is available to whoever wants to participate. It's not a horrible thing to have a thread get moved there.



I've had lots of interesting conversations in outhouses! Some, not so much but that's the way it goes.
 

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Before it does get moved, I'll just say that socialism should only be for rich people. Tax breaks, cash and prizes, government bail outs- they should only go to already wealthy who earned it, either through inheritance or deft handling of credit default swaps. Ideally, both. Capitalism is for poor people. Bootstraps are available from Jeff Bezos and others online, prices and quality may vary.
 

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and then all the owners/workers get pissed at the manager/owner because they are doing all the work and are sharing in the money equally. Sorry but sounds really bad, capitalism blows every other form of business out of the water.
 

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You had me at "capitalism blows..."

Just kidding. To paraphrase Gandhi: "I like capitalism, it's your capitalists I don't like."

They actually do practice capitalism in socialist countries. I think they're pretty good at it too. Got rich people, a middle class and all- even poors. They don't seem to do the 'vulture capitalism' that we do so much of here in the US, the predatory corporate kind that everybody says they hate but they still shop at Walmart and Amazon anyways.
 

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and then all the owners/workers get pissed at the manager/owner because they are doing all the work and are sharing in the money equally. Sorry but sounds really bad, capitalism blows every other form of business out of the water.

Um...no one is talking about "not" capitalism. Co-ops are business forms that operate in capitalist economies as business enterprises.


But I'd also wonder what kind of "capitalism." I'm much more fond of the proprietary capitalism over corporate capitalism. But that battle was fought and won long ago by moneyed interests. It pretty much destroyed the dream of the founders.
 
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