Tim Hewitt, Co-op Developer for the Arizmendis Association of Co-ops and I imagined that we were sitting together in a Starbucks having just received a $4 latte from a smiling-faced young person, with a B.A. in Political Science, who was careful to ask if we wanted anything else… we named her Jane.
I asked Tim what would be different if Jane were a worker member of Arizmendis Bakery in Oakland California. According to Tim, a big difference would be that Jane would have a say in how the business was run rather than doing everything according to policies, protocols and scripts from head office.
Jane would have a great deal of diversity in her work life. She would learn and become proficient in all parts of the business including making bread, serving customers, business development and facilitating consensus decision making at staff meetings. She would be paid, wait for it… (there should be a drum roll or something) $40/hour including 5 weeks of holiday and benefits.
As a result Jane has a high level of pride and strong motivation around providing mouth-watering bread, made with fresh local ingredients, to customers who she knows on a first name basis, and not just the customer’s name, but the customer’s dog’s name, the customer’s birthday, the customer’s uncle from Utah…!
Tim has noticed over time, as new worker members become more integrated into the culture of the Arizmendis Bakery, they become significantly more solution-focused. When the bakery is understaffed, there is a glitch in the supply chain or an interaction with another worker member goes off the rails, Jane will start to act from a position of responsibility. She’ll bring her gifts and capacities to the finding a solution rather that complaining or criticizing.
As worker members build their capacity to work together, to communicate effectively; as they experience increased power and efficacy in their work life, Tim sees these skills and confidence enabling them to respond proactively to parenting and neighborhood opportunities.
Hmm, which sounds like the better deal for Jane? Go Girl Go!
Check out our other stories About the Grain Exchange Worker Co-op. Meet Peter Driftmier and Greg O’Neill who are saying ‘Yes!’ to this deal and the secret anarchist baker who would like to say yes!