Worker Cooperatives

Reducing Economic Inequality through Democratic Worker-Ownership

Shannon Rieger

Amongst developed nations, the U.S. is a leader in unequal income distribution. But according to a recent Century Foundation report on the role of worker-ownership models, this is a trend that can be changed. The author examines how a cohesive national regulatory framework, national tax incentives, a U.S. employee ownership bank, and increased support for employee-ownership technical assistance centers can bolster U.S. worker-buyout policy. In aligning regulatory, technical, and financial support for worker-cooperatives, the United States can bring scale to this key economic equalizer. 

Converting businesses to worker cooperatives—real world lessons learned

A recording of our 5/28 webinar on converting businesses to worker cooperatives, organized to highlight the lessons learned in Project Equity's new report Business Conversions to Worker Cooperatives: Insights and Readiness Factors for Owners and Employees.  Featuring: Read more about Converting businesses to worker cooperatives—real world lessons learned...

Hilary Abell talks with Laura Flanders about scaling worker cooperatives

Hilary Abell, author of the Democracy Collaborative report "Worker Cooperatives: Pathways to Scale", talks with Grit TV's Laura Flanders about the policies and best practices that can help grow the worker cooperative sector in the United States. Read more about Hilary Abell talks with Laura Flanders about scaling worker cooperatives...

Hilary Abell and Kali Akuno talk with The Real News about scaling worker cooperatives

Hilary Abell, author of our new report Worker Cooperatives: Pathways to Scale, talks to the Real News Network about NYC's $1.2 million investment in workplace democracy. Read more about Hilary Abell and Kali Akuno talk with The Real News about scaling worker cooperatives...

City governments building community wealth and cooperative local economies

Exciting news from Jacksonville, Florida, New York City, Austin, Texas and Richmond, Virginia

The past few weeks have seen a flurry of impressive activity at the level of city government, all around policies designed to build community wealth and encourage the growth of cooperative local economies. It's encouraging to see that the work of grassroots developers, local foundations, community activists, and field builders (like ourselves here at the Democracy Collaborative) is beginning to gain a foothold in the world of municipal policy. Read more about City governments building community wealth and cooperative local economies ...

Will Co-ops Spark a New Civil Rights Movement?

Jackson Rising conference brings together social justice and cooperative activists

While the words “co-op” and “civil rights” do not commonly appear in the same sentence, with more than 300 cooperative and social justice activists gathered in Jackson, Mississippi, last weekend, the question was hard to avoid.

Chronicling the Lives of the Working Poor Across America

The Leonard Lopate Show
wnyc

Pulitzer Prize-winning author, journalist and Columbia Journalism School professor Dale Maharidge crossed the country to chronicle the lives of today's working poor, from farmworkers in southern California fighting against low wages and a devastating drought, to heroin stricken communities in northern Maine that have been abandoned by industry. His story, “American Ballad: A Photographic Chronicle of America's Working Poor,” marks the 75th anniversary of James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. It was published in the December issue of Smithsonian Magazine...listen here 

Working Together: A Report on the First Year of the Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative (WCBDI)

Gregg Bishop and Lisette Camilo

This report outlines the activities and accomplishments of the ten partner organizations that participated in the first year of the WCBDI. We look forward to continuing to assist the development of worker cooperatives in New York City through the WCBDI. 

US Worker Cooperatives: A State of the Sector

Democracy at Work Institute

The Democracy at Work Institute conducted a national survey of worker cooperative firms to start to answer some basic questions and lay the groundwork for future longitudinal studies. To our knowledge, this is the first nationwide survey to solely target worker cooperatives. We used publicly available data to identify basic information about 256 worker cooperatives operating in the US in 2013 (due to lack of a central registry and recent rapid growth, this is likely an undercount). 109 of these cooperatives then submitted substantial responses to our survey questions. The data set represents a combination of these two sources. For each survey question the exact number of cooperatives with available data varies, as the response rate for each question differed. Included are some key questions addressed by their responses. 

Worker Cooperative Law Passes in the California State Assembly

The California Worker Cooperative Policy Coalition

On May 22, the California State Assembly passed AB816, a major step toward making California the twelfth state to establish a legal form speci cally for worker cooperatives. This campaign is building on the momentum of worker cooperative policy initiatives happening throughout the country—including a $1.2 million dollar funding initiative in New York City last summer—as the cooperative business form gains recognition as a powerful tool for economic revitalization. 

Worker Cooperatives in a Globalizing World

Allen White and Josu Ugarte

The Mondragon Corporation, based in the Basque Region of Spain, is a renowned worker-owned multinational cooperative enterprise founded in 1956 on the principle of “worker sovereignty.” Allen White, Senior Fellow at Tellus Institute, explores the credo, strategy, and promise of global cooperative enterprises with Josu Ugarte, former president of Mondragon International. 

Worker Cooperative Industry Research Series: Craft Beer

Tim Palmer

The craft brewing industry presents an interesting possible route to scale for worker cooperative development. The industry, incredibly, is still growing after more than two decades of upward trends. Moreover, the independent and artisan workplace culture fostered by owners and workers alike has made some rms more receptive to employee ownership. The success of Black Star Brewery and Pub Co-Op, as well as the ESOP-owned New Belgium Brewing Company provide models for replication and education. Worker cooperative developer participation in this industry has been minimal to date, though a sustained focus here could make an important impact. 

How to Build an Inclusive Economy Through Employee Ownership

Adam Wiskind
Triple Pundit

This blog post describes the initiative sponsored by The Democracy Collaborative to create 50 million employee-owners by 2050:

How Urban Governments Are Promoting Worker Co-ops

Michelle Camou, Grassroots Economic Organizing

City governments are shaping up as key actors accelerating worker co-op development. 

Equal Exchange's Innovative Use of Preferred Stock

A case study in strategies for financing the inclusive economy

Excerpted from The Democracy Collaborative report, Strategies for Financing the Inclusive Economyoriginally published September 2016. (Photo: Joe Driscoll, Creative Commons licensing) Read more about Equal Exchange's Innovative Use of Preferred Stock...

Taking Employee Ownership to Scale: Learning + Design Session

Democracy at Work Institute, The Democracy Collaborative

On June 13 and 14, 2016 in Washington, DC, many of the nation’s leading experts in employee ownership, sustainable business and finance, community and economic development, and philanthropy came together in a Learning + Design session. Co-hosts for the meeting were Marjorie Kelly and Jessica Bonanno of The Democracy Collaborative and Camille Kerr of Democracy at Work Institute. The purpose of the session was to discuss how to achieve unprecedented scale of employee ownership by focusing on achieving an audacious goal: 50 million U.S. employee-owners by 2050. This report summarizes and expands upon the June meeting:

The Cooperative Growth Ecosystem

Melissa Hoover and Hilary Abell
The Democracy At Work Institute, Project Equity

This second paper in Citi Community Development’s Building the Inclusive Economy series focuses on scaling worker cooperatives as a means to create quality jobs and wealth-building opportunities for low-income workers. Authored by Hillary Abell, Co-founder of Project Equity, and Melissa Hoover, Executive Director of the Democracy at Work Institute, the report draws from the experiences of Cincinnati, Ohio, Madison, Wisconsin, New York City, the San Francisco Bay area, and western North Carolina to develop a framework for understanding the successful components of a “cooperative growth ecosystem.” These include collaboration across sectors, diverse funding streams, and a “guiding coalition” to create a strategic vision: