“I didn’t know it was a co-op, but once I found out what it was, I was like, ‘ This is amazing. People running a company democratically. Taxi drivers, from all different walks of life, able to run this company. It was so inspiring to me, that’s really when I began to learn all about worker cooperatives, getting involved in local government and national and international organizations as well,” says Kemble.
A handful of drivers founded Union Cab Cooperative in 1979, after they attempted to unionize under their previous employer, who responded by folding the company. They scraped together the cash from friends and family to buy a handful of cabs, radio equipment, and all the necessary permits and insurance — about $150,000 in startup costs at the time. Today the co-op has 157 members, 109 of which are primarily drivers, and it has managed to maintain its footing through more than one upheaval in Madison’s car transportation sector.