Member Highlight: Maharlika Cleaning Cooperative

Why did you become a worker co-op?

Maharlika Cleaning Cooperative is the first worker cooperative of Filipina domestic workers in the US, predominantly human trafficking survivors. We organized as an office cleaning cooperative because we know that through this model we can create a business that contributes to our vision of a just and equitable society where everyone is loving toward themselves and others, where we have freedom of movement and expression, and where we are liberated from forced labor and family separation. Our mission is to create sustainable, just and healthy workplaces for our community, clients and cooperative members.


What is a story your co-op loves to tell?

We chose our name because Maharlika means “power” and “precious” in Tagalog, the language of the Philippines. Our name embodies our commitment to building power collectively to help each other, our community and our clients, and our belief that all people are precious and important. Our logo is the everlasting flower, a captivating flower that symbolizes the breathtaking beauty of the Philippines. The everlasting represents our strong unity, and our natural, bright and conscientious cleaning. In our country, we give everlasting garlands to welcome guests and celebrate accomplishments.


Tell us about one of the ways you have an impact on your community?

As most of our members are survivors of human trafficking, our position as worker-owners is life-changing since we have voice and decision-making control over our time, our wages, our policies, and the way we treat each other and our clients. Our work is fulfilling because we cultivate healthy relationships and the environment, and we know we are creating a more just and equitable world by promoting cooperative values and creating dignified work opportunities for the Filipino migrant worker community. Our impact is even broader, as all of us member-owners contribute money we have earned to our families back home in the Philippines.


What is your co-op’s power animal? Why?

Our Cooperative’s power animal is the carabao, or water buffalo, a national animal of the Philippines. The Carabao, known for being hard-working and reliable, is the historic backbone of our country. The carabao is a source of income for farmers, provides transportation, and perseveres with great energy despite obstacles and challenges.


Number of worker owners: 7

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