An equitable distribution of wealth and genuine connection to the workplace for workers are necessary aspects of a sustainable economy. One solution toward a sustainable future lies in worker owned cooperatives, which embody equitable distribution of power and offer employees a greater stake in the companies overall success. Evergreen Cooperative in Cleveland, Ohio started with a resource efficient laundry service, expanded to solar panel installation, an independent local newspaper and most recently a year-round hydroponic greenhouse. Within five months the two starting branches turned a profit and at the end the 2011 fiscal year $7,300 was transferred into each worker-owners’ capital account with 20% in cash and 80% in “capital credits”, along with wages. Evergreen Co-op plans to grow into 50 different entities employing 5,000 individuals and to bring sustainable and meaningful jobs to a previously neglected area.
Communities struggling to reconnect everywhere are following Evergreen’s lead, showing the power of collective and positive human will.
This model contrasts with the findings of three Swiss systems theorists who analyzed a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide to determine the relations between 43,060 transnational corporations, building a model of global corporate power revealing a dominant core consisting of 147 firms. These firms control 40% of the global monetary wealth being exchanged and the top 737 firms control 80% of the world’s wealth. Alarming yes but corporations behave like biological systems, striving to interconnect and expand. However, in economics instability follows when hyper-connectedness leads to a concentration of wealth and power.
Susan A. Chang, “Best Job in the Neighborhood and They Own It,” Yes! Magazine, Fall 2011: 26-28, Print
Bruce Upbin, “The 147 Companies That Control Everything,” Forbes, Oct. 22, 2011, Web, http://www.forbes.com/sites/bruceupbin/2011/10/22/the-147-companies-that-control-everything
Student Researcher: Ivan Sidorenko, San Francisco State University
Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows, San Francisco State University
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