It’s always interesting to read about how co-operatives are working across the world. Below is an extract from an article on America’s largest worker-run co-operative. The main points of the article highlight the following:
- In a sense, CHCA is a study in scale for the co-op movement in the United States, especially in traditionally low-wage occupations. Is it possible to remain democratic while employing thousands, rather than dozens, of workers?
- CHCA offers wages slightly above the industry standard
- After three years at CHCA, it guarantees workers full-time pay, whereas many agencies operate using contract workers.
- All CHCA workers get health care benefits—which, nationwide, is not the case for about a quarter of these workers.
- As worker-owners, CHCA members receive a share of the profits in the form of dividends. The president gets the same dividend as the newest home care worker, which usually averages around $200 to $300 a year.
- The stability of the jobs CHCA offers is born out in its retention rate. The home care industry has an annual turnover rate of 40%—meaning that nearly half of home care workers leave their job or are fired every year. By contrast, CHCA’s turnover rate is only 15%.
- Of the 2,000 workers employed by CHCA, only half are actually worker-owners.
Here’s a taster of the article, the link to the full article is below.
Fifteen years ago, Clara Calvo had just left her husband and her job. Both were abusive in their own ways. Her husband beat her, while her job at a beauty salon required long, unpredictable hours for little pay. Before that, she worked in a clothing factory in midtown Manhattan, earning a pittance for each hat she sewed, having immigrated from the Dominican Republic in 1995. Today, Calvo is able to support her three children as a single mother and sits on the board of company with over 2,000 employees that does $60 million in business per year.
But Calvo also works as home health care worker, making just $10 an hour. Her company, Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA), is not like most other companies. It is a worker cooperative, an ownership structure that is somewhat rare in the U.S. but much more common in Spain, Italy, and parts of Latin America. In a worker cooperative, every worker can own an equal share of the company (and its profits) and get a say in company decisions.
Today, worker co-ops are growing in popularity in the U.S., both for people ideologically drawn to an equitable workplace and as a means for economically disadvantaged people to control their own destiny. But among worker cooperatives, CHCA is rare in for its size (employing over 2,000 workers), its longevity (currently in its 30th year), and its success (it has been profitable in all but three of those years).
Read the full article by following this link: