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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Mondragon Co-ops Make Waves All the Way to California

When the Workers Run the Show

By April Dembosky via Financial Times

James Johnson’s father was a garbage collector. His mother worked in the cafeteria of the local school. They now are both unemployed, making ends meet through government subsidy programmes. Mr Johnson, 21, has different plans for his career, building a business where he can never be laid off.

Richmond Spokes, the bike shop where he works, has no boss and no owner. It is just months away from becoming a fully-fledged worker-owned co-operative, where all six employees have an equal share in the company and an equal say in how it is run. That sense of power and purpose is something Mr Johnson never had at his previous job doing computer repairs. “The computer store was just another job,” he says. “Every day when I was going to work for the man, I had to keep repairing my bike just to get to the job. I thought, why not just focus on fixing the bikes.”

The shop is one of several co-operatives in the early stages of forming in Richmond, California, a city suffering from high crime and poverty rates.

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