The Christian Science Monitor

Faces of a new capitalism: How Millennials are embracing socialist values

‘[W]hen we talk about the economy, I do feel a little bit disillusioned in the sense of just how the middle class is getting really strapped and the rich are getting richer.’ – Asma Men, a young mother in Cypress, Calif. Source: Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff

You might say that it was in a bread line where economics came into focus for Bernardo Vigil Rendon. He was employed, actually, at a bread factory.

One day, word came from on high: A new client needed the loaves packed in a different kind of box. The workers would be packing the same amount of bread, but the job would now be more difficult, and there would be no extra time allowed to do it. No extra pay. 

“We just have to do this” was the message that filtered down, he recalls.

What Mr. Vigil Rendon could see, along with fellow workers and even his immediate manager, was that, at about 15 cents extra per loaf, it meant a substantial new chunk of profit for the bread factory but nothing for those on the line.

“It was exceedingly hard” for the workers, he says, and “quite a windfall for the owners.”

Today, Vigil Rendon has moved on to a workplace he likes much better, a bicycle store that’s owned by the workers collectively. The pay isn’t huge, but the job comes with perks that are unusual for such a small shop: a retirement savings plan, no staff cuts in the off-season, and a familial atmosphere that sometimes brings the shop’s adopted cat, Falkor, into an amiable nose-to-nose encounter with another worker’s towering dog. And in weekly meetings, everyone has a voice in decisions.

Now, as Baltimore Bicycle Works looks to open a second store (after 10 years in operation), it’s also hoping to be a harbinger of a wider transformation in the US economy. The workers here want to prove, one employee-owner at a time, that an egalitarian business model is a viable step up from a

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