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Re: [tlug] Introduction to (Tech) Worker Cooperatives, 09:00AM on Sunday, July 12th JST

On Wed, 8 Jul 2020 at 18:01, Yasuaki Kudo <> wrote:


At the Nix/NixOS Show & Tell event yesterday, some people asked what “worker cooperatives” were.   This is a follow-up for the question 😊


Event links (almost the same content):

Is this just some kind of shameless plug? :-)

I do not see any definition for "worker cooperative" nor simply "cooperative" anywhere when following these links. :-o

Of course, if I didn't know what a cooperative is, I could just use a search engine. :-)

The cooperative movement has been something close to my heart ever since I opened my first bank account
at a cooperative bank by sheer happenstance at the tender age of 18 and was baffled when I got a "bonus"
credited to my account at the end of the financial year, which amounted to the equivalent of ~25.000 JPY.
Back in the early 1980s that was quite a bit of money. It turned out the bank was owned by its customers
and returned any profits over 3% back to its customers every year. I used that money to buy shares and
became a co-owner of the bank with voting rights at the shareholder meeting where every shareholder
had exactly one vote no matter how many shares they owned, democratic and resistant to hostile
takeover by any leeches of the Lehmann Brothers kind who cause financial crises every so many years.

In the same year, a friend who had just finished his apprenticeship as a mechanic didn't want to work
but enjoy unemployment benefits for as long as he would be eligible, but the job centre sent him to
a cooperative machine factory. They had gone bust under the former owners. There were no other
employers in that town and all the workers had mortgages to pay, so they took out second mortgages
and offered a substantial sum to the creditors to keep the factory going with a promise to freeze
pay and work unpaid overtime until all the debt was paid.

The money was nowhere near sufficient to pay off the creditors but they were impressed enough to give
the workers a chance under the condition that they form a cooperative and take over the company, then
hire professional managers to run it. They did and within several years of hard work they had paid off the
debt. Afterwards, they didn't quite know what to do with the excess profits so they invested in a company
fire brigade which was the most modern in the whole state, day care for employee's families, a company
hospital, library, professional training center and pension funds. When my buddy said he was to go there
for an interview I said "Hey, that's a great company" but he replied "Are you crazy? Do you have any idea
how they work there? You can't even have a smoke without everybody else giving you a hard time for
wasting time on the job. Anywhere else, only the boss will do that." Lesson learned: Coops won't get any
riff raff in their workforce, they filter themselves out beforehand.

So, thanks for bringing this to my attention, I'd like to know what these guys are doing, but like I said
the links do not have any information on this.

BTW, the first cooperatives were set up in Germany in the 1860s by one Carl Frederic Raiffeisen who
invented the governance model (democratic voting, profit cap, widespread ownership) which is today
enshrined into Austrian and German law. 

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