Three steps to take control of life at work.
There are three basic steps workers can take to gain control of their work.
- Exercise their free speech rights. Workers have the right to speak out---and act out.
- Bring democracy to the workplace. Workers can get a seat at the table in determining their own wages and working conditions if they form a democratic organization and elect representatives.
- Take ownership of the work. With hard work, workers may be able to buy out their boss entirely. Then the workers will get to keep the profits of the business, and can take complete control of their own working conditions.
Like rungs in a ladder, each of these steps leads to the next. By exercising free speech rights, workers learn courage and gain power in cooperation and support of other. This gives workers the know-how to bring true democracy to the workplace. Through this experience, workers grow much better at cooperating and working together with each other. And in the bargaining process, workers learn how the business is run and where profit comes from. This will ultimately make it easier to transition into ownership, and the workers will be able to run the business together.
Of course, it isn't always a direct ascent, and not everyone wants to climb all the way to the top. For this reason, perhaps it is better to think of these as phases than steps.
Many workers take one or two steps and decide that they are content. Some are fortunate enough that they can skip a step or two. In fact, there are some who think that step 2 should be skipped, as it has the danger of creating an institution with interests in diverting the continued progress of the employees. I think anyone who can skip the second step certainly should, but there are many occassions when the second step is really essential, and I tend to think that union certification can still have significant benefits.
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