Why would members of a worker co-op ever join a union? We certainly identify as labor, but we don’t have a boss to defend ourselves from.
Well, in part, it opens up a whole new market to us, which had formerly been difficult to reach. Many of the people who need our help most are the ones least able to find or afford us. Being in a union together will change that.
But there’s another side to this. Over the last few years, worker co-ops and unions have been joining forces. The flagship example is the deal between Mondragon and the Steelworkers, which created the Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative. There are other examples, as well.
Co-ops are interested in unions because unions have a breadth and depth we can only dream of. Unions are interested in co-ops because we own our businesses. And of of course, both are dedicated to worker empowerment. The collaboration is just getting started, but it has a lot of promise.