Corey Reidy interviewed Ben Mauer of Quilted and Joshua Stephens from Just Walk at last July’s Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy. The full transcripts are available at Baltimore’s Indypendent Reader.
Indyreader: Do you want to talk about your cooperative?
Ben: Sure, so my cooperative is called Quilted. We’re five people. One on the East Coast in Boston and four on the West Coast in Berkeley. We do web development for social justice organizations, small businesses, and other worker cooperatives. We started in 2007 and before that we had been a sort of loose collection of freelancers for about three years, since 2005. And in 2007, we sort of decided to take the plunge and actually remove all the barriers that are … the sort of paperwork barriers around subcontracting to each other that being independent contractors has. So, we were like, let’s just incorporate. That way we can work together more easily and collaborate as a default, rather than as an exception.
Indyreader: Could you explain what Just Walk is?
Joshua: We are a worker-owned and operated collective of dog walkers and pet care professionals in: Washington D.C., Baltimore, and New York City.
Indyreader: For you and your business, what is the importance of worker-owned and operated businesses?
Joshua: I mean I could probably say that there’s this broader political vision and whatnot. But even if I didn’t have faith in that, I would say… that just on an ethical level – I don’t think I would be able to look myself in the mirror, [while] extracting value from other people’s labor. I think that the only way to engage in entrepreneurial sorts of endeavors, assuming that someone doesn’t want to be a wage slave somewhere as an employee, the only way to do that entrepreneurial sort of thing, is on equal footing with other people in collaboration, a spirit of mutuality, and cooperation.