Yolo Eco-Clean Co-op sees growth, empowers community members

April 2, 2017

Written by Caleb Hampton


Yolo Eco Clean Co-op facilitator Angelica Medina organizes the co-op’s office on F Street. Members mix all of their safe and sustainable household cleaning products onsite. Caleb Hampton/Enterprise photo

After its first few months, Yolo Eco-Clean Cooperative — a worker-owned co-op made up of local house-cleaning professionals — already is experiencing growth. The co-op was started in 2016 by two nonprofits, Empower Yolo and the California Center for Cooperative Development, and provides cleaning services throughout Yolo County.

“YECC’s mission is to create an opportunity for underserved community members to be co-owners of a sustainable company, to teach them to be leaders, and to empower them and give them more hope,” says Angelica Medina, the cooperative’s facilitator and a Davis High School graduate.

“In the beginning, some of the members were skeptical,” Medina says. “Now that business is picking up they believe in themselves and the co-op more.”

After operating for a few months, the amount of work available to each member has increased from about 10 hours per week to 40 hours per week, Medina says.

The structure and philosophy of the co-op gives its members several advantages. Being part of YECC provides the members with steady work while also letting them determine when and how the work is done.

“Being part of the co-op made it easier to manage my schedule and take care of my children while helping my husband with the bills,” says Isabel Fernandez, a co-op member who previously had worked as a cleaner for a hotel in Sacramento.

Now that the amount of work has picked up, Medina says it is important to stay committed to the values of the cooperative: “to help each other out, to work together as a group.”

Members attend monthly meetings and work together to determine company policies. Ruth Perez, one of YECC’s member-owners, says she values taking part in decisions ranging from rates and scheduling to policies on the dress code and cell phone use. These decisions are reached democratically and reflect what the workers believe is best for them, their clients and their business.

Before joining the co-op, members complete four trainings to learn about how a worker cooperative works. “We want them to know what they’re getting themselves into so they can decide if it’s a good fit for them,” Medina says.

Six women currently comprise the Yolo Eco-Clean Cooperative. The co-op hopes to expand to 15 to 20 members in the next year.

“My experience with YECC has taught me a lot about managing a business as well as developing as a person,” Fernandez says.

In addition to empowering underserved community members, YECC is committed to safe and sustainable house-cleaning practices.

“Our goal is to provide a service that’s healthy to everyone and that’s why we use natural products,” Medina says.

“We mix everything here in the office. The main ingredients are water, vinegar and baking soda. If clients have marble or granite countertops, we have other solutions for them which don’t harm them. We use scented oils for the smell,” Medina explains.

Isabel Fernandez, a member of the Yolo Eco-Clean Co-op, puts some elbow grease into her work at a Davis home. Caleb Hampton/Enterprise photo

“It was nice to have eco-friendly cleaning agents,” says Yuma Sakakura, a client and Davis resident. “When my roommates and I clean the house we notice that we get a headache — none this time!”

“I was impressed with the level of thoroughness; they cleaned more than I expected. They got out calcium and other stains in sinks and the bathtub that we have never been able to get out,” says Tiffany Yost, another of YECC’s clients.

Medina, who is employed by the California Center for Cooperative Development, will facilitate the co-op for 18 months, at which point it will become completely self-run.

“My goal for the workers was to get them working full-time,” Medina says. “Going forward, my goal is to help this business keep growing, finding clients, making sure members are happy, and communicating with everyone so they know what’s going on with estimates and with client feedback.

“I want to motivate them and let them know that they’re doing a great job, because they really are.”

If you are interested in getting an estimate for YECC’s cleaning services, or would like to learn more about the co-op, visit www.yecc.coop or call 530-231-5334.

If you are interested in participating in an upcoming member training, contact YECC through its website or the number listed above.

The next trainings in Davis are planned from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 18, and Monday, April 24, at 979 F St., Suite A-2.

The same trainings will be offered at 9586 Mill St. in Knights Landing from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, and Tuesday, April 25.

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