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How a St. Louis pottery tool maker became a worker cooperative

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Collin Garrity poses for a portrait in a studio.

“I think that this is a great way to create an example of how a business can also support its employees and not just value them based on how productive they are,” Collin Garrity says about worker cooperatives. Garrity Tools

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Garrity Tools has five full-time employees, who are worker-owners. (Photo courtesy Garrity Tools)

The pandemic has changed the way people work in a number of ways and caused many workers to examine their relationships with their jobs. Collin Garrity, the owner of a woodworking company in St. Louis specializing in pottery tools, began to question his ideas about work and business ownership. That’s lead to a profound change in how his small business operates.

Last week, Garrity Tools became a worker cooperative.

Worker cooperatives are owned, operated and managed by the workers. Decisions are often made democratically, with one vote for each “worker-owner.” The number of cooperatives in the United States has grown by more than 30% since 2019 to 612, according to a study by the Democracy at Work Institute.

“I think that this is a great way to create an example of how a business can also support its employees and not just value them based on how productive they are,” he said. “But it’s a way for people to really benefit from their hard work and to be able to decide for themselves what their work wants to look like.”

One of the pottery tools crafted by Garrity Tools. (Courtesy Sean Funcik)

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