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Copper City Swing: Worker Co-op

In this post, you will find all the information you will need to decide to join our cooperative.

Our mission is to change how Lindy Hop is shared with the world. The first step is lowering the barriers to access.

Socializing opportunities should not be for making a profit. Meeting other people should be available to all as affordably as possible. Free ideally.

That is our goal at Copper City Swing. And the only way we can do that is with the help of the very people we are trying to serve. Below you will find just a few reasons why we chose to become a co-op.

Why a co-op?

We believe a significant reason why so many people are having a hard time with their jobs and with the economy in general right now is due to how businesses are typically legally constructed.

Most are essentially pyramid schemes, with a small group on top deciding how everybody below them is to act and what to work on at that job. This legally required construction alienates people from the literal products of their labor. It is evident by simple observation of workers that, people want to work hard and do a good job in their work and life. This is obvious from how many people stay in miserable, soul-sucking jobs for their entire lives. What people don't want is to be taken advantage of in their place of work, by separating them from how they manage their time, what they do for work, and be told to do things they don't want to do while they work hard. This problem leads us at CCS to try a different approach when it comes to the legal construction of our business. If we are managed by the people who do the work to create dancing and social opportunities. Then, we cut right through that alienation. The workers are no longer separated from the fruit of their labor. Aren't co-ops for hippies or something you might ask? Well, no. Many large US companies are worker cooperatives, such as Samuel Adams Brewing. Win-co I believe is worker-owned as well. Co-ops are not just for small hippie arts collectives. One of the largest companies in Spain is a co-op.

In this next section, I have two ideas I want to share.

First, I have always wanted to run a business. But, I have always found issues with how most businesses are run. So I decided to construct my business in a way so I'm not "on top" of the "pyramid" as it were. I have never wanted to rule over, or boss others around. I have only ever wanted to dance and share this dance and its community with more people. This leads to my second point.

Secondly. I want more people to find the same love for dancing that I have. And I think people will find much more pride in and feel less alienation in going out dancing when they have been a part of creating that opportunity to go out and dance. You can be less critical when you have been a part of the creation of the hobby you enjoy!

Now, of course, the idea of organizing and coordinating classes and events as we do at CCS won't appeal to everyone. I know that. Which is why there is an option to give financial assistance and voting rights. I don't think everyone needs to be a part of the co-op at a managing level. But, I do think it will appeal to a few, and those few are exactly who I want to be a part of this collective.

"The capitalist workplace is one of the most profoundly undemocratic institutions on the face of the Earth. Workers have no say over decisions affecting them. If workers sat on the board of directors of democratically operated self-managed enterprises, they wouldn't vote for the wildly unequal distribution of profits to benefit a few and for cutbacks for the many." – Richard Wolf

Unequal Distribution of profits -

A further elaboration on this idea of alienation is the problem of unequal distribution of profits. Alienation comes not just in the form of legal structures that prevent people from working the way they want and what they want in their jobs, it comes in the form of those on the top of the pyramid keeping the rest below them, who do the day-to-day work from sharing in the profits after expenses and re-investment have been made. When the workers themselves are THE board of directors, they will not elect to keep themselves from the profits their company makes.

This is just a simple blog post and obviously general in principle and is not intended to be an economic treatise or how-to guide on how to construct your company.

Just a short description of how we have decided to run our company.

Bad Debt-free policy

Businesses typically take on debt in order to grow. We believe this is an unwise and unsustainable practice. Tomorrow's money is never guaranteed. Being solvent is necessary to maintain a stable workplace and keep as much predictability as possible for our workforce. Risking high-interest rates just to grow your business against what your customers are actually providing for you seems to us a false way to run your business. This is why we take this stance. Unless the interest is almost non-existent and the term is short. We will not take on debt.

We will always refuse to take on debt from banks and credit cards. Depending on the terms we may take low interest, and short-term loans from local credit unions. But only if the co-op votes to do so. We will always take grants and will always be seeking good relationships to make our community development aspirations a reality rather than take on high-interest debt from loan sharks or other creditors who loan only for profit.

Three ways of getting involved in the Co-op

  1. The least involved option: Become an Ambassador as a part of our volunteer program for events, classes, and workshops

  2. The slightly more involved option is. Become a public voting member via the Copper City Club Membership, it's $60/month, and this grants the member instant voting rights and the ability to see financial reports, but no ability to bring voting matters to a vote

  3. The most involved option: Become one of six owner-co-op members. Where you work to build up this co-op right alongside me and our other managing members.

Why be like this?

Why give so many free and low-cost opportunities to dance? Why do things this way? Because we believe as a community, we have a selfless obligation to share this dance with anyone who wants it. It is an artifice to claim ownership over something we did not create. (It is also a tenuous proposition to assert that just because you created something means you own it)

This community, nor its art is ours to profit off of. Though, I think it is valid to make money from Lindy Hop, perhaps even your living off of it. Not everyone needs to agree with me, I also don't think everybody who makes money off of Lindy Hop should construct their businesses the way we have. This is simply our values and our way of running a business. We think it's best for us.


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