Somerset Waters has the passion of a convert. You can hear it in his voice when he outlines why he set up the only worker-owned cooperative business in Los Angeles.
“It’s really exciting pushing the boundaries of how a small business can operate here,” he says, standing in front of a bank of solar panels outside a residence in Calabasas. “People want a sense of ownership at work, a feeling of justice, a real stake in their working lives.”
Last year, inspired by the Pioneer Valley Solar Co-Op in Massachusetts, and with guidance from co-op resource center LA WORCS, Waters created Pacific Electric, a worker-owned co-op, to see if a different kind of business model could take hold in Los Angeles.
The four-person union firm, which has plans for expansion to 100 owner-members, installs solar and other electrical systems for residential and business customers throughout Los Angeles County.