Aide, a dog handler and shift leader, remembered this period as being really scary. “My first thought when I heard they were gonna close the daycare was, Oh my God, I need to find another job. I’m a college student, so I need a way to pay for my school and my bills,” she said. “I needed a backup right away.”
When the shock wore off some, clients Kelly Hall and Ra (pronounced “Ray”) Criscitiello—owners of a springer spaniel named Lewis and a pit bull mix named Doughy, respectively—approached the managers with an idea: What if there was a way to buy the daycare and hand the keys to the staff?
As the deputy director of research for a large union chapter, Criscitiello had helped nursing professionals organize into worker cooperatives and thought the daycare seemed like a good candidate. Co-ops can take various shapes, but rather than any legal description, what makes a worker co-op drills down to two central features: employee ownership and democratic control through a board of directors, an elected body composed of at least 50 percent employees. If they could pull this idea off, collective ownership would protect both employees and clients against the whims of the next rich person looking to cash out.