Can Worker Co-Ops Bring an End to Bad Jobs?

Headshot of Maximillian Alvarez.
Maximillian Alvarez

Baltimore has become what many consider to be ground zero in the emerging ​“solidarity economy” and the formation of worker-owned, cooperatively run businesses.

There’s something important going on here, and there’s a lot that we can all learn from our fellow workers who are in the cooperative space — people who are living, breathing proof that there’s another way to run a business, that there’s another way to run our economy, and that there are other ways we can treat work and workers.

At a recent event hosted by the Baltimore Museum of Industry titled ​“Work Matters: Building a Worker-Owned Co-op,” Max moderated a panel including workers and representatives from Common Ground Bakery Café, Taharka Bros Ice Cream, A Few Cool Hardware Stores, and the Baltimore Roundtable for Economic Democracy (BRED).

He talked to them about how they came to work at these different co-ops, how their businesses transitioned to more cooperative models, and they dig into the nitty gritty of what working at a co-op looks like, what it takes for workers to democratically run a business, and the real challenges, limitations, and rewards that come with this kind of work.

Panelists include: Vince Green (Taharka Bros Ice Cream); David Evans (A Few Cool Hardware Stores); Craig Smith (A Few Cool Hardware Stores); Sierra Allen (Common Ground Bakery Café); Christa Daring (BRED).

This is an introduction to a podcast episode of “Working People,” which was posted along with a transcript at In These Times on February 26, 2024.

About the Author: Maximillian Alvarez is editor-in-chief at the Real News Network and host of the podcast Working People, available at InThe​se​Times​.com. He is also the author of The Work of Living: Working People Talk About Their Lives and the Year the World Broke.

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.