What is Worker Cooperative Development?
In an era where employment has become the main preoccupation of citizens and governments alike, a job preserved is often as good as a job created. And contrary to what is often implied by Schumpeter’s famous metaphor on the “creative” aspect of enterprise destruction in a capitalist market economy, plant closures and job losses are not always redeemed by some positive outcome elsewhere. Sometimes they are simply a waste of human talent and a pure economic loss. As Stiglitz noted in his analysis of restructuring, it is much easier to destroy enterprises and jobs than to create them.
This is an exciting time to be engaged with worker cooperatives. The worker cooperative model has stood the test of time; its foundations have been in place since 1844, when the Rochdale Pioneers developed their creative response to the suffering of displaced workers during the Industrial Revolution. Since 2008, the Great Recession has inspired more and more workers, advocates, and community developers to bring their creativity and energy to the next generation of the cooperative movement, fueling an explosion of co-op-related discussion and initiatives.