Welch Allyn Makes The Case For Worker-Owned Cooperatives

To the Editor:

Welch-Allyn was formed in 1915 and was family owned since that time through four generations. Once, a family-owned business was steel, granite, the foundation of community, it was the embodiment of accountability, a family's word to its workers, to its friends and neighbors, to its town. But we all know that money can speak more volumes than the multitudes.

How could this situation have been different if an anchoring local business was formed, grown, and owned as a worker cooperative as opposed to a small majority family ownership?

Many Owners = Much Accountability. Beyond whether or not Welch Allyn will continue to employ here in Central New York, they have given up their accountability to the region, by giving up ownership to an out-of-town corporation. The business no longer has those familial ties to its neighbors.

Equitable Ownership = Much Resilience. In harsh economic climates such as today, worker cooperatives only need to reach break-even points that provide for the workers salaries, and not need to make an extended profit for non-owner investors.

Reduced Margins = Competitive Advantage. Without a need to reach extended profits for shareholders, worker cooperatives can operate at a reduced gross margin, thus maintaining lower prices and/or higher salaries and benefits.

Regardless of what has just transpired with Welch Allyn, an economic vision for Syracuse as a restructuring industrial economy could and should be based upon worker-owned cooperatives for long-term job stability. The workers themselves, who are the owners, who are the town, who are the foundation, can then decide on their own (rather than being at the mercy of "independent business experts") when to strategically restructure if necessary, or, as in the case of Welch Allyn, to sell out.

Frank Raymond Cetera

The writer is the Green Party candidate for Common Council in the 2nd District.

Published in the Post-Standard print edition on Tuesday June 30, and online at Syracuse.com on Wednesday June 24 - http://www.syracuse.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/06/two_views_of_welch_allyns_decision_to_sell_your_letters.html

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