Worker Cooperatives

Broad-Based Ownership Models as Tools for Job Creation and Community Development

Marjorie Kelly, Steve Dubb and Violeta Duncan

As cities wrestle with the growing challenge of wealth inequality, more and more leaders are looking to broad-based ownership models as tools to create jobs and build community wealth. These models are highly effective, with a positive impact for low- and moderate-income individuals and communities. This report looks at six such models—ESOPs, Worker Cooperatives, CDFIs, Social Enterprises, Municipal Ownership, and Emerging Hybrids—with examples of best practices, and explores how these models can be used in community economic development.

Earthbound

Established by three Austin builders frustrated with being hourly workers, and interested in sharing tools and administrative responsibilities, Earthbound is a worker cooperative focused on providing high quality, environmentally responsible construction services.  The cooperative relies on natural building methods, local materials, and sustainable design principles to create spaces that are healthier to live in, more beautiful to look at, and better performing than conventional alternatives.

Polycot Associates

Founded as Polycot Consulting in 2001, Polycot Associates converted to a worker-cooperative in early 2014 with a mission to improve the world through inspiring and useful web technology, a humane worker-owned business structure, and a collaborative, responsive, transparent process.  With five current worker-owners, the cooperative specializes in leveraging open source tools to provide custom web development and design services.

4th Tap Brewing Co-op

From its conception over a decade ago when its founders began home brewing beer on a stovetop, 4th Tap Brewing Co-op celebrated its grand opening in November 2015.  It is the first worker-owned brewery in Texas, and one of the first in the United States.  Committed to brewing interesting beers, the worker-owners rely on many ingredients from Texas and serve beers directly from tanks in its taproom.

Dahlia Green Cleaning Services

Founded in 2012 by four women motivated to create just and dignified jobs in the cleaning industry, Dahlia Green Cleaning Services is the first worker-owned cooperative in Austin that specializes in green cleaning.  The business aims to create jobs with fair wages and equal opportunity, and relies on hand-made eco-friendly products to promote a healthy living environment for customers, members, and the planet.

How Economic Development Can Build 'Community Wealth'

Anne Field
Forbes

Journalist Anne Field unpacts the Democracy Collaborative publication Educate and Empower: Tools for Building Community Wealth, highlighting the eleven case studies from the original report.

Transunion Car Service

Transunion Car Service is a union-supported cooperative launched in March 2015.  The company works 24 hours a day, seven days a week, relying on a cell phone app that customers use to access and pay for service.  Its 300 members benefit from union supports and protections, which include a credit union, affordable legal assistance for traffic court, immigration support, health care, life insurance, and pension benefits. Read more about Transunion Car Service...

Is it Time for a New New Deal?

James M. Larkin and Zach Goldhammer
The Nation
Our economy is broken. Could a universal basic income, child allowances, and worker-owned cooperatives fix it? The Democracy Collaborative's Gar Alperovitz, alongside other economists and activists, sheds light on the issue.

From New York to Oakland, CA, city governments support worker coops

New developments in expanding local legislation and funding towards worker cooperatives
Municipal involvement in worker cooperative development

On Thursday, September 24th, the Pope will address the U.S. Congress for the first time in history. Perhaps he will speak about building democracy, growing the economy, or increasing equality— and a mention of worker cooperatives could serve as a unifying theme. Read more about From New York to Oakland, CA, city governments support worker coops...

Small World Food

Small World Food is a worker-owned bakery and fermentery that uses fresh, local, organic ingredients to make a range of food products including breads, granola, pickles, miso, sauerkraut, and sauces.  Small World Food sells its products at its own retail store, as well as at area farmers markets and other local stores.  The enterprise also aims to teach people about food and farming through hands-on workshops and other seminars. Read more about Small World Food...

Own The Change: Building Economic Democracy One Worker Co-op at a Time

A short, practical guide for those considering worker owned cooperatives, made by GRITtv & TESA, the Toolbox for Education and Social Action.

Read more about Own The Change: Building Economic Democracy One Worker Co-op at a Time...

Yellow Cab Cooperative

When the Westgate Corporation filed for bankruptcy in 1976, its affiliate cab company, Yellow Cab Company, was forced to cease operations. A group of cab drivers, mechanics, dispatchers, and other local investors organized into a cooperative and successfully negotiated with the Federal Bankruptcy Court to purchase the company, creating Yellow Cab Cooperative in 1977.  The co-op relies on hybrid electric and clean, natural gas-powered cars, and continuously explores and invests in environmentally-sound vehicles. Read more about Yellow Cab Cooperative...

Rhizome Urban Gardens

Rhizome Urban Gardens is a worker-owned cooperative that designs, installs, and maintains organic gardens and landscapes. It relies on a permaculture-based, whole systems approach, and specializes in organic food gardens. Read more about Rhizome Urban Gardens...