As I have wrote about in the past, worker owned businesses, sometimes known as cooperatives are actually now employing more people worldwide than corporations. This is the positive side to the economic story that is not often covered in the media, as the titanic fiat world economy is collapsing on itself there are people out there all throughout the world who are building lifeboats.
One such lifeboat was created in Minnesota, where the owner of two grocery stores transferred ownership of his business onto his 400 employees upon retirement.
Yahoo News reports that:
“Joe Lueken, who owns and manages two grocery stores in Bemidji, Minnesota, and one in Wahpeton, North Dakota, is retiring at age 70. Instead of selling his stores to the highest bidder, though, he will transfer ownership to the stores’ 400 or so employees.
The employees will participate in an employee stock ownership program, receiving shares of Lueken’s Village Foods based on length of service and salary — and at no cost to them. The program to transfer ownership from the Lueken family to the employees will begin on January 1, 2013.”
He explained his reason for turning over ownership to his employees: “My employees are largely responsible for any success I’ve had, and they deserve to get some of the benefits of that.” He says he received a number of lucrative offers for his business, but he and his family realize what the supermarkets do for the community, and they believe this will be a better deal for them and the 13,000 residents of Bemidji. “You can’t always take,” Lueken says. “You also have to give back.”
Employees say Lueken’s decision, which won’t require them to pay anything for their shares in the business, multiplied the high esteem they already held for their boss.
“He’s rockin’ awesome,” said Svare, 41, who started at Lueken’s in 2009 and worked up to front-end manager.
“He chose to protect his people,” she said. “Being owners will make us care more about our work. It gives you something to call your own and gives you a more comfortable retirement to look forward to.”
As I have been covering in my shows and articles over the past few months, the economic and societal changes that are taking place all over the globe are much less of a collapse as is often described, but more of a transition. It is true that an old way of life and all of its trappings are disintegrating into obsolescence, but this is only the beginning of the story.
All over the world people are facing challenges, and it is these unfortunate challenges which ultimately become learning experiences and opportunities to solve problems more efficiently. Luckily, it does seem that people really do have the emotional maturity and genuine knowledge to use the best of our technology and resources in order to overcome these obstacles.
More worker owned businesses will promote more efficient, productive and enjoyable workplaces, and luckily it does seem that this is a trend we will be seeing a lot in the future.
J.G. Vibes is the author of an 87 chapter counter culture textbook called Alchemy of the Modern Renaissance, a staff writer and reporter for The Intel Hub and host of a show called Voluntary Hippie Radio. You can keep up with his work, which includes free podcasts, free e-books & free audiobooks at his website www.aotmr.com