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August 8, 2017 > Niles Pie celebrates worker-owned cooperative

Niles Pie celebrates worker-owned cooperative

Submitted By Niles Pie Company

Niles Pie Company is an artisanal bakery in Union City that specializes in handmade seasonal pie and pastry with fresh, local produce. In business since 2010, they opened their retail location in the Dowe Business Park on Alvarado-Niles Road in the spring of 2013. They have expanded rapidly and continue to grow by serving area FarmersÕ Markets, adding corporate deliveries and catering, as well as hosting classes and events in their bright and comfortable retail space. ItÕs the rapid growth that prompted founding owner Carolyn Berke to begin to explore the option to bring long-time staff into management and ownership roles. ÒOnce I started to think about offering profit-sharing and ownership to our staff, the cooperative model really started to make sense,Ó she says. ÒIn order for us to continue our growth and really embed ourselves into the community, I wanted to bring on partners that were already invested in the business, and already part of the community. We know we like to work with each other, so itÕs the obvious way to continue on the path weÕre already on.Ó

Worker cooperatives are a democratic form of employee ownership. What makes them unique is they are businesses both owned and governed by their workers. Strategic decision-making is democratic, adhering to the principle of one member, one vote. Profits are earned based on hours worked. The Niles Pie cooperative has a traditional management structure, along with participatory culture and representative democracy with an elected board. Daily operations remain the same, and all looks the same to the naked eye. Original owner and founder Berke remains with the company in her current role as general manager, but the company is now owned by its staff. Toto Chittharath, one of Niles PieÕs founding worker-owners, says, ÒThis means that worker owners make decisions about things like overall workplace governance, policy setting, annual budget, company direction and strategy. We also share in the profits and risks of the company on an equal basis.Ó

Not all staff are members of the cooperative, and there may always be a mix of owners and employees, but the goal is an ownership culture and a democratically governed workplace. ÒOur goal is to have as many of our staff become worker-owners as possible because we believe it will make us a stronger company,Ó says Sarah Vegas, another of the cooperativeÕs founding worker-owners.

On Saturday, August 12, Niles Pie will hold an open house to celebrate their new business model. There will be live music, promotions, and specials. Niles Pie wants to thank the local community for the strong support theyÕve given the business in their first seven years, and to include them in their future plans. Keep an eye on their Facebook event page (www.facebook.com/pg/NilesPie/events/) for updates and special appearances.


Niles Pie Open House and Celebration
Saturday, Aug 12
1 p.m. Ð 4 p.m.
Niles Pie Company
Dowe Business Park
32990 Alvarado-Niles Rd, Suite 960
(510) 324-4743
www.nilespie.com

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