All cooperative businesses around the world operate in accordance with the following seven cooperative principles.

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership
  2. Democratic Member Control
  3. Member Economic Participation
  4. Autonomy and Independence
  5. Education, Training and Information
  6. Cooperation among Cooperatives
  7. Concern for Community

Less known is the fact that cooperatives have also adopted a set of values that help to put these principles into practice. Cooperatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-ops believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.

Let’s take a closer look at these values and see how they impact us here at Ontonagon REA. The founders of the co-op created it to serve the members that use the electricity and other services we provide, and we continue to do that today. This embodies the values of self-help, taking action and doing what needs to be done. We also know we must embrace the value of self-responsibility and be accountable to you, our member.

Each member has one vote, no matter how much electricity you use. This ensures that democracy is practiced the way it is intended with equality for all members. This is a key difference between co-ops and investor-owned companies where the number of votes you have depends on the number of shares you own.

For co-op members, equity has two meanings. We strive to treat all of our members fairly. It also means that, as a member, you have equity (ownership) in the co-op.

While each co-op is autonomous, we do act in solidarity with other co-ops and our community. We know that we can do more for you by partnering with other co-ops and like-minded organizations.

Your parents were right when they said, “Honesty is the best policy.” As an owner, you have the right to expect us to act with openness and in a transparent manner. We welcome your active participation in our co-op.

Cooperatives have long (and correctly) been identified as the original socially-responsible business, meaning we care about the impact we have on the community while ensuring we are economically viable.

We try to demonstrate our concern for the community through caring for others every single day. By using our values in support of our principles since our founding in 1937, we have been able to serve you for the past 79 years and will carry on these traditions into the future.