HQ Greensboro’s second featured member of the month is the Events and Communications Coordinator of the Democracy at Work Institute: Roodline Volcy.
Democracy at Work Institute supports the development of worker cooperatives; it also supports worker cooperatives that already exist in addition to aiding in the conversion of traditional businesses into worker cooperatives.
You may wonder what exactly a worker’s cooperative is. It is a cooperative that is owned and self-managed by its workers. Roodline Volcy describes worker cooperatives as follows, “It’s a great alternative to capitalism where there’s a top-down system: you can’t make any decisions about where you work, someone else does. Very popular in Europe, worker cooperatives give people ownership of their labor as well as ownership of their workplace.” A more complex idea to grasp, Volcy related it to a concept that more people are familiar with. She explained that most people are aware of traditional cooperatives like Deep Roots, where one can be a member which allows them to vote within the company and get perks like quarterly discounts. The only downside is that the vote is limited because of the food based consumer products provided. In a worker’s cooperative, assets are equally owned and governed by employees who earn money from the profits of their labor. Decision making is democratic and members have opportunities for great involvement, training and incentives to partake because they have a large financial stake in the firm.
Volcy found the passion for her work through the realization of her support for self-managed worker cooperatives over the more prevalent capitalist model. She supports a system where she owns her labor, what she can do, and what she produces. Worker cooperatives empower people of color, women whose careers may be at risk because they are mothers who get fired for having to care for their babies, and people who have been fired for arbitrary reasons. Volcy explains, “We can come together and make our own workplace and run it and make our own decisions and give ourselves the quality of life we deserve.”
Volcy hopes to one day become a co-director of a program that focuses on immigrant worker cooperatives. Long term, she aspires to open her own consulting business for events.
When asked how HQ has helped her reach her goals, Volcy described how HQ helped her deal with her biggest difficulty in working from home for a company located in Oakland, CA. It became increasingly difficult to separate work from leisure in the same way as people who work office jobs allowing them to leave their jobs at work. HQ provided her that opportunity. “When I’m at work, I do work stuff and when I come home, I do home stuff. Before I came to HQ, those boundaries were really blurred.” She’s able to participate in meetings with coworkers around the country from right here at HQ.