Resiliency does not equal immunity to a global pandemic and economic crisis, however, and worker co-ops have certainly felt the impact from the coronavirus outbreak.
“Whole segments of work have disappeared overnight,” says Ross Newport, a longtime worker-owner at Community Printers. Community Printers, a cooperative with 33 members, is an industrial-scale print and packaging shop, having been in business since 1977.
Still, how a worker co-op business responds to and absorbs its losses is decided through cooperative decision making, not passed down from owners and managers.
“We have not laid anyone off,” Newport reports. Community Printers, which has been deemed an essential business in California and remains open, has had to significantly restructure the shop to maintain social distancing. Half of the workers are voluntarily furloughed and receiving unemployment, all while the co-op continues to pay for their benefits.