Union co-ops shift economic and political power to workers and the communities in which they live by providing a pathway for worker-owners to not only share in the profits but also participate democratically in workplace governance. Ownership alone, however, is not enough. The way we own must also be different. We cannot simply replicate the status quo; we must redesign the systems that organize the production, distribution, and reproduction2 of our needs and our wants and how they are achieved.
To acquire a fair share of the economic benefits of what they produce and to address the various crises too many communities face, such as food insecurity, poor health, and poverty, working people must control the aggregate political power of the corporations that form the core of our political economy. Because the power to control a corporation is based on owning governing shares of stock, working people must control those governing shares. Worker cooperatives and union co-ops offer this opportunity.3
The way we value labor must also be different. We must view labor as more than just an expense, but instead as creators of our wealth. Even as the economy opens back up, we still see many businesses continue to exploit their workers, despite those workers being primarily those who were/are deemed essential during this pandemic and were/are a lifeline to all. These businesses claim there is a labor shortage now because some of those who qualify for unemployment (which doesn’t include all workers)4 have chosen not to go back to certain jobs because of low pay.5