Are Worker Cooperatives A “Sea Water Fish In A Freshwater Pond”?


Jaroslav Vanek is a professor emeritus in the Department of Economics at Cornell University. He is recognized as a leading thinker on the subject of labor managed enterprises. In fact, he wrote a seminal work on the subject in 1970 – The General Theory of Labor Managed Economies. In a 1995 magazine interview, he was asked why worker cooperatives aren’t working in the West. In answering this question, he compared workers cooperatives to a “sea water fish in a freshwater pond”.

I don’t know whether The Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) subscribes to Professor Vanek’s theory of labor management. Nonetheless, SELC is trying to address the lack of formal legal structures for worker cooperatives by sponsoring legislation to amend California’s Consumer Cooperative Corporation Law, Corporations Code § 12200 et seq., to permit explicitly the formation of worker cooperatives.

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