The iconic worker-owned cooperative "Most Democratic Workplaces" announced on Monday, Mar. 5. Created and sponsored by WorldBlu, a business organization and leadership consultancy, the list is intended to highlight businesses and non-profits engaging in decentralized business practices.
Union Cab, one of three taxi companies in Madison and the only sporting the archetypal yellow paint job, was joined in the list by other workplaces ranging from a GE aviation manufacturing facility in North Carolina to a mobile phone content provider in St. Petersburg, Russia, to the Maryland-based Honest Tea company.
The list was based in part upon surveys completed by the workers at the applicant organizations, with the more than 200 members of Union Cab encouraged to rate the cooperative on principles such as the level of transparency, direction of information flow, and amount of choice practiced in its day-to-day operation. " We let the people that work in these organizations each day -- rather than outside reviewers -- tell us if their workplaces were democratic or not," wrote WorldBlu founder Traci Fenton as she announced the recipients.
Nearly three-quarters of the Union Cab's membership responded to the survey, noted John McNamara, the cooperative's accounts manager and an active member for nearly two decades. This was enough to qualify them for consideration in the list. It was Union Cab's underlying organizational structure that was ultimately instrumental in subsequently getting placed on it.
"The consistent commitment to democratic ownership by the workers has been the keystone to Union's success," said board president Catherine May in a press release promoting the award. "We are proud to be a worker owned democratic cooperative, a workplace in which each worker-owner has a voice in governance." McNamara emphasized this point, noting, " the practice of democracy in our workplace is not a choice, but the core aspect of our existence."
The list also included Equal Exchange, a Massachusetts-based company with offices in Madison, an KI, an institutional furniture manufacturer based in Green Bay.