A group of employees of a supermarket in North Adams, Massachusetts, have shown again that some workers are eager to tackle new challenges and to break with traditional labour-management relations.
When a local supermarket became part of a large chain a few years ago, a number of employees lost their jobs. Twelve of them decided to strike out on their own and launch a worker-owned, cooperative supermarket. Eventually seventeen employee-investors found a way to finance the lease of an empty supermarket, and they were in business. Now operating with fifteen employee-owners and forty other employees, the company is managed with a high degree of participation and cooperation.
Francis Schonfelder, the grocery manager of the store, claims there is “a lot more dedication and pride when you have a group sharing a common goal.”
Customers praise the pleasant, helpful attitude of the staff, and their emphasis on “good old-fashioned personal service.” The community has taken an interest in this unique enterprise of self-ownership and management. According to Mayor John J. Barrett, “The majority of the community is rooting hard for them to succeed.”
One of the employee-owners, Kathleen Hoczela, explained: “Problems can arise, but there’s no one trying to be lord and master looking over your shoulder, or the fear of being on the outside looking in. We’ve still got a rough road ahead of us,” she concluded. “But the feeling is there and we’re going to make it.” (New York Times, June 12, 1988)