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Is there really a “worker shortage,” or are frontline workers just tired of risking their lives for substandard pay, protections, and benefits? During the COVID-19 pandemic, worker co-ops demonstrated that it’s possible to run a successful business while still prioritizing the safety and input of workers over profits.

We speak with worker-owners at 8 co-ops in 4 states about the unique benefits, struggles, and limitations of of the worker cooperative model. In the words of Kimberly Britt, a worker-owner at ChiFresh Kitchen, “We work at and own this company, and we designed it to work for us, what would make it not feel like a job.”

Featured Music (all songs sourced from the Free Music Archive:

  • Chad Crouch, “Little Brown Bird”
  • Chad Crouch, “Complex Structure”
  • Chad Crouch, “Backwater”
  • Chad Crouch, “Blue Heron”
  • Chad Crouch, “House Finch”

Interested in democratic workplaces? Check out our complete coverage from The Real News’ Jaisal Noor of how worker cooperatives rose to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Jaisal is currently the Democracy Initiative Manager at the Solutions Journalism Network and is a former TRNN host, producer, and reporter. He mainly grew up in the Baltimore area and studied modern history at the University of Maryland, College Park. Before joining TRNN, he contributed print, radio, and TV reports to Free Speech Radio News, Democracy Now! and The Indypendent. Jaisal's mother has taught in the Baltimore City Public School system for the past 25 years. Follow him on Twitter @jaisalnoor.