Worker Cooperatives

Cooperatives in Minneapolis: An inventory and assessment

Emily Anderson and Tom Pierson

Published by the City of Minneapolis’ Office of Community Planning and Economic Development, this report inventories and assesses worker, consumer, and producer cooperatives in Minneapolis. The authors find access to start-up capital and real estate, as well as a dearth of knowledge on cooperative governance structures and city regulations, as some of the most common challenges facing the development of cooperatives in the city. To minimize these barriers, the authors recommend creating a cooperative technical assistance network and investing in cooperative education for city employees

Green Taxi Cooperative: Building an alternative to the corporate "Sharing Economy"

New worker-owned taxi cooperative set to launch with 800 drivers in Denver

The “Sharing Economy” is comprised of corporations like Uber and Airbnb—that don’t actually do much sharing. But real alternatives that build community and cooperative ownership are under development across the country—like Green Taxi Cooperative, an emerging worker-owned business in Denver, Colorado that just received the regulatory approval they need to launch the 800-driver strong cooperatively-owned and union-organized company. Read more about Green Taxi Cooperative: Building an alternative to the corporate "Sharing Economy"...

Union Cab Cooperative

Union Cab Cooperative aims to provide quality transportation services in greater Madison while creating livable wage jobs in a safe, humane, and democratic environment.  Established in 1979 with just 11 cabs, Union Cab has grown into an enterprise with gross annual revenues in excess of $7 million, 230 active or probationary members, and 65 cabs.  It considers itself a “whole Earth enterprise,” and strives to continually reduce its carbon footprint. Read more about Union Cab Cooperative...

Isthmus Engineering and Manufacturing (IEM)

Established in 1980 and converted to a worker cooperative in 1983, Isthmus Engineering and Manufacturing (IEM) specializes in the design and development of custom automation equipment.  The enterprise currently has 32 employee-owners and more than $20 million in annual revenue.  Committed to sustainability, IEM generates energy through its own solar panels, purchases renewable energy for use in its manufacturing operation, and relied on sustainable design principles when building its latest facility. Read more about Isthmus Engineering and Manufacturing (IEM)...

Nature’s Bakery Cooperative

Founded in 1970, Nature’s Bakery Cooperative is a worker-owned bakery specializing in organic whole grain breads and other baked goods.  In addition to its Madison-based storefront, the eight-member co-op sells its products at groceries, co-ops, and health food stores in Wisconsin, Illinois, and the Twin Cities. Read more about Nature’s Bakery Cooperative...

Just Coffee Co-op

Just Coffee Co-op was established by Madison residents frustrated by the exploitation experienced by small Zapatista coffee farmers in Chiapas, Mexico.  Today, Just Coffee has 20 worker-owners who are committed to providing customers with quality coffee and showing where it came from and who grew it.  To ensure transparency, the co-op started a “transparency project” in 2006, which aims to publically highlight their operations by posting contracts with farmers, prices paid, profit and loss statements, and related documents online. Read more about Just Coffee Co-op...

Four Star Video Cooperative

Launched in 1985 to increase public access to underground, art, foreign and other less-accessible films, Four Star faced closure in 2014 when its owner decided to pursue other projects.  To remain open, the store’s employees launched a successful fundraising campaign, enabling them to buy the business and restructure it as a worker-cooperative.  Today, the store’s four worker-owners maintain over 20,000 titles and are committed to providing affordable rental options. Read more about Four Star Video Cooperative...

Community Pharmacy

Community Pharmacy is a worker-owned pharmacy that aims to promote health by providing a range of affordable prescriptions, herbs, supplements, body care products, and homeopathic remedies.  Launched in 1972 by the U.W. Madison Wisconsin Student Association as a volunteer-run pharmacy to provide students with affordable medications, it became an independent cooperative in 1974 and now has 20 worker-owners and 2 locations. Read more about Community Pharmacy...

We Own It: A Guide to Worker Co-ops in NYC

Ingrid Haftel and Sandy Xu
The Center for Urban Pedagogy

The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) teamed up with Sunset Park-based Center for Family Life, designer Amanda Buck, and illustrator Melissa Crowton to create We Own It, a fold-out poster that breaks down how worker co-ops work. Visuals and text in Spanish and English compare worker co-ops to typical businesses, explain the steps that go into starting or joining one, and show what a day on the job looks like for a worker-owner. 

Want to Hire a Worker-Owned Co-op? There’s an App for That

Michelle Stearn
Yes! Magazine

Originally published on, this article by The Democracy Collaborative's Michelle Stearn highlights the work of Si Se Puede!, the Robin Hood Foundation, and a Cornell Tech graduate student program, all of whom converged as a team to develop an app for worker cooperative bookings:

Ours to Share: How Worker-Ownership Can Change the American Economy

Sanjay Pinto and The Surdna Foundation
The Surdna Foundation

This report from The Surdna Foundation delves into the world of worker ownership, detailing models and best practices, from the Cleveland Model developed by the Evergreen Cooperatives in Ohio to the role of foundations and philanthropy in developing worker-owned business strategies:

The Big Idea Bookstore

Launched in 2001, The Big Idea Bookstore is a worker-owned cooperative that sells radical and progressive literature.  The enterprise includes a café featuring food and drinks from local, organic, seasonal, fair trade, or sustainable sources whenever possible.  With about 20 worker-owners, the co-op also distributes free literature pertaining to local community organizations, events, and projects and hosts a range of events and discussion series.

Rochester’s Market Driven Community Cooperatives Corporation: A Feasibility Analysis & Implementation Plan

Jessica Bonanno, Violeta Duncan and Ted Howard

The City of Rochester's Office of Innovation, under the leadership of Mayor Lovely Warren, has been coordinating a project to develop worker-owned cooperative businesses as part of a comprehensive wealth building strategy for Rochester, New York.

In 2015 the City engaged The Democracy Collaborative, a group with extensive expertise from similar work in Cleveland Ohio in connection with the Evergreen Cooperatives and the Greater University Circle Initiative. The Democracy Collaborative completed a study in February 2016 that documented incredible potential for the project, a high degree of community support including local Anchor Institution buy-in, as well as several potential business niches for future worker-owned businesses. The report also includes an implementation plan to move the project forward in two additional phases, the first of which was approved to proceed by the Rochester City Council on March 22nd, 2016.

Workers to Owners 1-Day Seminar

April 11th, 2016
Hilton Minneapolis - 1001 South Marquette Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55403

On April 11, our Executive Vice President & Senior Fellow Marjorie Kelly will speak at this one day event hosted by Workers to Owners "to move the needle forward on an exciting trend in sustainable economic development: converting existing businesses to worker ownership." Read more about Workers to Owners 1-Day Seminar...

Tamarack Media

Tamarack Media is a multimedia production company with expertise in documentary production, environmental education, web design, advocacy, and writing.  By producing innovative media, the worker-owned cooperative aims to raise environmental awareness and help environmental organizations, businesses, and schools communicate their messages more effectively to new audiences.  Clients include foundations, nonprofits, businesses, educational institutions, and government agencies around the world. Read more about Tamarack Media...

Red House

Red House is a full-service building company with expertise in new construction, historic restorations, renovations, additions, cabinetry, custom woodworking, and metalworking.  After a decade working as a small custom building firm, Red House re-structured itself in 2003 as a worker-owned cooperative to nurture an environment that values employee creativity, energy, and commitment.  More than one-half of Red House’s 20 employees are now worker-owners.

Data Systems Inc. (DSI)

Founded in 1978, Data Systems Inc. (DSI) provides software solutions and ongoing support—including systems analysis and design, custom programming, and on-site training—to wholesalers, importers, manufacturers, and distributors.  As a worker-owned cooperative, DSI also has a vision of building and implementing software solutions to grow the cooperative economy and strengthen the regional food system.  Demonstrating this broader commitment, DSI developed a free, open-source application for worker co-ops that streamlines the process of managing member patronage and dividends.

Burlington Associates in Community Development

Founded in 1993, Burlington Associates in Community Development is a worker-owned consulting cooperative focused on supporting community land trusts (CLTs) and other shared equity homeownership strategies.  To do so, Burlington Associates specializes in developing and evaluating public policies and initiatives that: expand access to shared equity homeownership; protect community investment in affordable housing, transit-oriented development, urban agriculture, and neighborhood commercial districts; ensure the long-term stewardship of housing and other community assets; and nurture a “third sector” of nonprofits that can collaborate with government to deliver essential services to local communities.  To raise the standard of practice throughout the CLT movement, Burlington Associates developed a web-based CLT Resource Center in 2005 through which people can freely access training materials, technical documents, and research reports focused on the model.