Co-ops are an old alternative to the new app-based economy


Companies like Uber drive money out of local communities and erase the benefits that employees have fought hard for, Alex Morgan writes in Governing Magazine. Co-ops could slow that shift.

Morgan cites the example of a city like Cincinnati adopting a co-op ride-sharing model as a way for people to keep their dollars in their own communities.

"Taxi drivers in, say, Cincinnati (perhaps those already driving for Uber or Lyft) could band together and start a co-op service with its own app that might be called Big Red Ride," he writes. "Members could keep the 20 to 30 percent Uber would otherwise get and use that money to not only undercut Uber on price but also to provide Big Red Ride’s driver-owners with health insurance, vacation time and so on."

Morgan thinks the ongoing shift to an app-based economy is pushing communities to a real crossroads.

"Unless current trends are countered ... this new economy has the potential to return us to a very old economy, a pre-Industrial Revolution one in which merchants put out work at meager piece rates to families and individuals," he writes. "Co-ops are flexible because at their core is not technology but a set of legally defined relationships. The owners, or members, have control, not outside investors. People vote, not money."

Xavier University hosted a conference on the co-op movement in November, which Soapbox previewed here. Xavier will host a follow-up conference, The Cooperative Economy: Building a More Sustainable Future, April 21-22 at its on-campus Cintas Center.

Would Cincy Red Bike be interested in starting a ride-sharing co-op?

Read the full Governing Magazine story here.
 

Read more articles by John Fox.

John Fox is an experienced freelance writer and editor who served as managing editor of Soapbox from December 2014 to August 2016.
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