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.


Established in 1976 by a dozen local artists, Handwork is a retail craft store owned and staffed by its member artisans.  The cooperative now has 45 members engaged in a range of crafts including pottery, woodworking, glass, jewelry, fiber arts, wearable arts, leather, dried florals, paper, fine art, and photography.  Committed to the community, Handwork donates five percent of its annual profits to nonprofit programs and awards an annual Handwork Art Grant to a community member interested in a career in the arts but who cannot afford classes, a residency, or related educational opportunities.

Solidarity Farm

A six-acre worker-owned farm in San Diego County, Solidarity Farm strives to ensure quality, healthy food is affordable and accessible.  The worker-owners sell their produce at its farm stand, through a weekly CSA, and at several retailers, prioritizing sales to other small, local businesses.  Through its Solidarity Farm School, Solidarity Farm aims to expose home-schooled children to agro-ecology, the study of the interconnectedness between farming and the natural world.

FruitCraft Fermentery & Distillery

Launched in 2009, FruitCraft Fermentery & Distillery is a worker-owned enterprise that produces and sells all-natural fruit wines and spirits.  The business is especially unique in that all profits are either reinvested in the company or provided as start-up grants to entrepreneurs who agree to set up other worker-owned businesses that also funnel profits back into their company or seed similarly-structured new enterprises.

Employee ownership can boost NY economy, families

Jessica Rose
Times Union

CFO, and Director of Employee-Ownership of the Democracy Collaborative, Jessica Rose writes in Times Union "Employee ownership can boost NY economy, families." Rose's op-ed highlights how empowee-ownership can boost upstate New York's economy: 

"Companies owned by their employees are more widespread than you might think. Nationally, there are at least 7,000 of these firms in nearly every major industry, sector, and region of the U.S. In New York, many employee-owned businesses are recognized industry leaders and household brands, such as Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA) in the Bronx, and Chobani yogurt, in Norwich, which each employ more than 2,000 workers. Though structured differently, both offer employees an opportunity to share in the fruits of their labor which, in turn, makes workers invested in the company's success. It's not just fair, its smart: Extensive research shows that participatory employee ownership contributes to greater productivity and firm stability." 

Read more in Times Union

Creating an Ecosystem of Opportunity on Pine Ridge

Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation (TVCDC) is a Lakota led non-profit based in the Thunder Valley community of the Porcupine District on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which celebrated its 10 year anniversary in 2017. For the last five years, TVCDC has participated in and co-created the Learning/Action Lab for Community Wealth Building, alongside The Democracy Collaborative, the Northwest Area Foundation and four other Native American community-based organizations, to develop and work through strategies that build and root wealth locally for the benefit of their community.   Read more about Creating an Ecosystem of Opportunity on Pine Ridge...

Home Care Associates

Founded in 1993, Home Care Associates provides in-home medical and personal care to about 500 people living in the Philadelphia area.  With a fourth of its 250 employees owning shares of the enterprise, HCA is one of the largest women-owned businesses in Philadelphia.  Scoring in the top 10 percent of all B Corps for overall social and environmental impact, HCA has been recognized as “Best for Overall Impact,” and its training program has been nationally recognized for its success in recruiting and training qualified staff.

Anti-Oppression Resource Training Alliance (AORTA)

Anti-Oppression Resource Training Alliance (AORTA) is a worker-owned cooperative focused on strengthening movements for social justice and a solidarity economy.  With 8 worker-owners, AORTA provides workshops, trainings, and consulting services to help cooperative, collective, and community-based projects become better aligned with their social justice vision and values.  Services are priced on a sliding scale as an intentional way to distribute resources equitably between organizations and to support and strengthen groups doing strategic movement-building work.

Employee Ownership: A Triple Win Solution

Democracy at Work Institute

This one-pager from the Democracy at Work Institute and the National Urban League provides a succinct summary of the benefits that employee ownership provides to employees, businesses, and local economies. Noting that the number of minority-owned businesses is increasing but that many of these businesses lack a succession plan, the info sheet highlights the opportunity to help these businesses convert to employee ownership to retain jobs and stabilize communities.

Working Together Fiscal Year 2017

Gregg Bishop and Micharl Owh

The city government of New York recently released the third annual assessment of New York City’s Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative, which works to incubate new worker-owned enterprises and provides assistance to convert existing businesses to worker ownership.  In 2017, the initiative helped launch 36 new cooperatives and facilitated 185 new hires. The report also details the technical assistance provided to existing businesses and provides a business directory.