Because the workers will be doing most of the day-to-day decision-making as they work towards the world we want, they will naturally have more of an effect on how the co-op goes about its business.
We recognise this by identifying them as the ‘Cardinal’ Members group. This does not mean that the Worker Members have any additional voting power and is not a separate category recognised by the Rules of Incorporation.
What it does mean is that Worker Members need to exercise particular care to avoid accidentally skewing the interests of the co-operative more towards their own group. Some examples of this might be: charging people getting support more in order to get higher wages, putting more paperwork onto people being supported and their families, or imposing schedules where there could have been more of a choice for the person.
There are a few ways we are balancing this risk:
Formal, defined role for the Supported Members Circle, which sits within the Supported Members as a whole and has two people in it also on the Purpose Circle.
Keeping the flow between Worker Members and Supported Members two-way. It will be common for Worker Members to have experience of being on the Supported side and we will actively welcome and encourage transitions from Supported to Worker Membership.
Looking at the data. If we see a much larger level of participation from people who are Worker Members we will re-double our efforts to bring in meaningful decision-making from Supported and Advocate Members. This may also include widening the eligibility criteria to be an Advocate Member.
Making it take longer to join as a Worker Member. The minimum probationary period for any of our worker based contracts and agreements is four months (volunteers and independent care and support workers). For employees it is six months. This means we can be absolutely sure that people working in the key positions (and greatest positions of day-to-day influence) in the co-operative have to have been there long enough to demonstrate both their commitment and their competence.