Worker Cooperative

By CP Staff

There is no owner or manager of Community Pharmacy.

The people answering your questions, working the cash register, filling your prescriptions and managing this website are the same people who run the store. We make our decisions collectively through concensus and democratic voting. Together, we are the managers of Community Pharmacy.

A worker’s cooperative is different than a member’s cooperative. Many retail co-ops offer membership in their cooperative ownership to their customers. The store-wide decisions these co-ops make include the input of all the members, and so reflect the needs of the community. The internal management strategies of these stores may take different forms, and many co-ops are still run in a hierachical manner. While staff are the only co-op members in worker cooperatives, the structure is easily as radical as member cooperatives, and sometimes more so. Worker cooperatives maintain the most revolutionary aspect of the collective model — all workers have equal say and equal responsibiltity in managerial discussions. Because of this, worker cooperatives are less prone to hierarchical and bureaucratic structures, and workers are more often paid living wages and receive health benefits for the work they do.

When Community Pharmacy began in 1972 as a Wisconsin Student Associate (WSA) initiative, the staff was made up of recently graduated pharmacists and volunteering students. After becoming an autonomous entity in 1974, a core group of volunteers became official Pharmacy staff, and continued to collectively manage the store. We tried many different management strategies for over a decade until 1991, when we achieved legal status as a cooperative and established the team-management model that has served us well ever since. We have divided the management duties of the Pharmacy into eight teams and we volunteer to sit on these teams to be involved in different aspects of running the store. We still have monthly staff meetings in which the entire staff discuss store-wide decisions and developments, but many of the daily decisions are made within smaller team meetings.

Advertising Team creates our unique print, radio and TV ads. We keep an eye on customer and product trends, as well as seasonal issues, and advertise to a variety of communities through local papers and businesses.

Business Team manages our bookkeeping and financial status. We interpret the data of our sales and expenditures and develop budgeting strategies to make sure the Pharmacy thrives in the future.

Buying Team decides what we carry in the store by researching new products and considering customer requests. We make sure all the products we sell are high-quality, cruelty-free and priced reasonably.

Dispensary Team manages and consults on the prescription medicines we carry. We are pharmacists and pharmacy technicians and make sure CP runs smoothly as a resource for our customers and their doctors.

Mail Order Team fills and ships mail orders all over the country. We do most of our customer service over the phone and email, and mail purchases every week with UPS ground.

Merchandising Team looks after our store’s aesthetic and logistical integrity. We design and create displays and signage, arrange product shelves, initiate store layout and fixture changes and keep the store clean and comfortable.

Outreach Team extends the health information resource aspect of our store into the community. We coordinate lectures and workshops, write informational pamphlets and allocate our donations budget to local organizations.

Personnel Team maintains our work environment by facilitating open communication between co-workers. We hire and train new staff and coordinate regular dialogues with established co-workers to make sure we all get the most out of our work experience.

Thank you for supporting our worker’s cooperative.