We all have our barometer to measure success in the workplace. Many of us are content to show up, perform our duties, and collect our wages, leaving the headaches to management. Then there are those of us who like to have some say in how things work, who want to have our hands firmly on the steering wheel. Still, there is a middle ground, where you can go about your day-to-day, without the pressures of managing a business, yet, have a say when it comes to how the business is run. If the 3rd option sounds good to you, perhaps a worker cooperative is what you’ve been looking for.
So, what exactly is a worker cooperative, and how can teachers benefit from one? Here are a few points to help you understand a teacher cooperative and why they very well may be the future of business.
Cooperative members have a say in how the business is run and who runs it. Each member carries a voting share equal to any other member of the co-op. Regardless of the distribution of equity shares the co-op has issued, when it comes to voting each member holds a solitary vote. When it is time to elect a board of directors one member can’t swoop in with his or her majority stake and install their preferred candidate to ensure the profits keep rolling into their account without consideration to how the workers themselves are affected.
Of course, every detail of the company is not put to a vote. Some decisions must be made on the spot for any business to operate efficiently. It would be absurd to think that a vote should take place every time a department considered any initiative. Therefore, the board of directors is democratically selected by the members. The board can make the decisions that may be deemed beyond the capacity of a single department. This way, the needs of the members are represented without a limited number of owners or investors dismissing the needs of those that make the co-op successful to line their own pockets.
A Support Structure for Members
One of the 7 principles of the cooperative model is ‘’education, training and information”. This means that a cooperative has a responsibility to provide its members with adequate resources to assure members can best contribute to their cooperative, hence increasing the chance of success for the community. Whether it be information on how the cooperative operates in general or the necessary tools a member needs to be successful within the sector that the co-op does business, there is a support structure in place to help both the individual and the cooperative thrive.
Profits and Compensation
With a cooperative no silent investors are waiting in the wings, dictating how the company operates and hoarding surpluses to the detriment of workers. While it is possible to acquire capital from outside sources, the return on such investments is limited. The old way of slashing benefits, wages, and employees to maximize profits is left out of the equation. In a cooperative model, the money left over after business is conducted can be utilized in a manner which the cooperative community sees fit. Members can choose whether to roll that money back into the co-op to enhance the business or distribute said cash to the members as dividends. This allows said money to benefit those that earned it by putting it back into their communities, where it does the most good.
By Us, For Us
The work within a cooperative is performed by its members. Through collaboration on both new and existing projects members can contribute to the betterment of the co-op community. The idea is to utilize the talents and resources of the owners/members to feed the business. By limiting the use of outside contractors, costs are kept in line, and more cash flow can remain within the cooperative. Everybody wins…Except those that just wish to profit from others’ labor. Instead, that profit is returned to those that produced it.
These are just a few of the advantages of forming worker cooperatives. By putting the power back in the hands of those that make a business run the sky is truly the limit.
So, why have we chosen this model for MyCoolClass.com?
Shortly after starting their journeys into online teaching, co-founders John Hayes and Scott Anderson quickly realized that this industry is wrought with social injustice. Teachers are discriminated against due to where they were born, among other factors. They are penalized financially for situations that are often out of their control. The idea of any type of benefit coming from an employer is simply unheard of. No sick leave, vacation allowance, maternity leave… NOTHING. The only extra many of these online platforms offer is the fear of waking up to a message that you are no longer employed. No explanation, no recourse for teachers, nothing. Just a devastating kick to the gut, leaving capable, hardworking teachers wondering where their next paycheck will come from.
We hope that we can build this cooperative to remedy these injustices for as many teachers as possible and that others might follow our lead. We have no desire to monopolize this industry. Nothing would please us more than to find that our cooperative’s hard work set off an explosion of change in how online platforms treat their workers, benefiting not only teachers but their students and communities alike.
Read more about our vision at coop.mycoolclass.com and join the #TeacherRevolt today!