Worker ownership brings more than jobs
The Blue Scorcher Bakery and Café of Astoria, Washington is a place of more than good food. Since its 2004 origins as The Bread Collective, it has also been about community, sharing, respect and joy. For co-founders Joe Garrison and Iris Sullivan Daire, ownership of the business reflects those values. In 2009, they and the workers began to talk about transitioning the business into a worker-owned cooperative business.
NWCDC supported the transition by providing guidance and other resources to establish a worker-owned cooperative business.
Blue Scorcher owners understand that a worker co-op is established by workers to provide themselves with employment and full control of their work environment. The workers are both the owners and the members of the cooperative. This is in contrast to other types of cooperatives that feature ownership by consumers (such as for a credit union which is a financial services cooperative) or ownership by other businesses, such as a produce marketing cooperative owned by farmers.
In keeping with their values, a special discussion is taking place around the new co-op’s governance structure. Cooperatives are based upon participatory, democratic governance. The worker-owners of the Blue Scorcher business have embraced a specific form of participation and governance, Sociocracy, which uses a system of governance circles and consent-based decision making.
In July 2012, the newly reorganized Scorcher Artisan Cooperative purchased the bakery and café business. Five workers are now co-owners who have invested in their cooperative business. Their jobs are now aimed toward a broader form of wealth: Joyful work, Delicious food, and Strong community.
To learn more about the Sociocracy governance model, visit http://www.sociocracy.info.