Fundamental Principles of Our Worker Owned Cooperatives

  1. Open and Inclusive

Our co-ops are open to everyone who agrees with our Fundamental Principles without regard to gender, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.

  1. Democratic

Our system of co-ops is based upon democratic principles. All owner workers have equal status. All workers must be owner/members. [There may be very unusual and limited exceptions to this rule.] Each member has one vote at any level of governance. Governing structures will operate democratically and ultimately answer to the General Assembly of all worker/owners.

  1. Primary value of labor

All economic value is created by labor. Because of this all labor is valued, respected and appropriately compensated. Co-ops are controlled by worker/owners, who are given priority in the distribution of surpluses. We seek to offer our model to all workers.

  1. Capital is a tool, not a value

Capital is simply the accumulated value of labor, and is treated as such. It is necessary for business development, but not a value in itself. Co-ops pay a fair but limited return on investments. It is not the primary use of surpluses. The need for capital shall not impede our principle of being open and inclusive, but all workers will become owner/investors after their probationary period. All workers shall make a substantial, affordable and equal financial investment.

  1. Self-managing

Cooperation requires both collective effort and individual responsibility. It involves the development of the individual, NOT against others, but WITH others. Each person must develop the skills needed for self management and for effective cooperation in order for the democratic model to work. Clear and effective communication; high levels of internal training; and non-hierarchal management styles are essential.

  1. Pay Equity and Solidarity

There will be both internal and external pay solidarity. Internally the pay difference between the highest paid worker and the lowest paid shall not exceed a ratio set by the General Assembly. Externally wages for the middle level workers should be equitable in light of those prevailing in the comparable conventional companies.

  1. Universal cooperation

We do not operate as an isolated entity. We cooperate on at least three levels: within each co-op; among our individual co-ops; and with other movements with shared values.

  1. Social Transformation

One of the goals of our work is social transformation. “Cooperation is the authentic integration of people in the economic and social process that shapes a new social order; the cooperators must make this objective extend to all those that hunger and thirst for justice in the working world.” Don Jose Maria Arrizmendiarrieta.

Although the Congress sets wages, and determines how to distribute the surplus, not less than 20% must be reinvested in job creation.

  1. Solidarity with other entities

We cooperate with others who are working for economic justice, human dignity, universal meaningful employment, and justice across national borders. It is our goal to create models that are replicable.

  1. Education

Because education is essential for fulfilling co-operative principles, education at all levels is a priority of The Grove Community. We work for quality public education for all families and affordable education beyond high school for those who can benefit. And we will create educational enterprises for worker education and re-education (when necessary), and education of our families in principles of co-operation and justice.