The Cooperators Podcast Episode 25 Michael Peck on Worker Co-ops

by Robert McGarvey

There are maybe 400 worker owned co-ops in the US today.  How many will there be 10 years from now?

Ask Michael Peck, a founder of 1worker1vote, and he says there will be four million.

That’s no typo.  He added, “I really believe we are at a tipping point.”

Worker co-ops now are burning brightest in the constellation of cooperative initiatives.  There is vastly more enthusiasm and energy around worker co-ops than any other kind.  This year perhaps two or three new credit unions will be chartered.  There will be hundreds of times more new worker co-ops.

Peck however is no newcomer to worker co-operatives. He has been promoting them for at least a quarter century and he has long had a tie to Mondragon, the immensely successful Basque co-op that in fact is a global business.

Peck accordingly sees immense potential for Mondragon-style co-ops to sprout in the US.

A key, in his mind, is a cooperative ecosystem.  A stand alone co-op has tough going.  When a new co-op is surrounded by like mined people and businesses it’s just much more likely to prosper, says Peck.

He works to create that ecosystem.  For instance: he is very optimistic about the role labor unions can play in helping to develop new worker co-ops and that could be a win-win for unions which of course have suffered dramatic drops in membership and clout in the past quarter-century.  But just maybe a focus on starting worker co-ops may produce a brighter outlook for unions.

By Peck’s count maybe 10% of US workers have an ownership stake in where they work.

But when workers are also owners they work harder and smarter.

“Workplace democracy is possible for everybody,” says Peck.

Listen in to hear the past, present and possible future of worker co-ops.

Fyi: The Cooperators Podcast has often focused on worker co-ops. Past episode include Esteban Kelly,  Melissa HooverFrank Shipper, and Alex Stone.

Peck in the podcast mentioned the Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative. Click the link to learn more.

Also mentioned is a Barron’s piece on the good immigrants do for the US. Read it here.

Listen to the Peck podcast here.

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