Worker Cooperatives

Successful Cooperative Ownership Transitions: Case Studies on the Conversion of Privately Held Businesses to Worker Cooperatives

With 70 percent of privately held businesses expected to change hands over the next two decades and 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day (many of whom lack succession plans), the nation has the opportunity to preserve these businesses by converting them to worker cooperatives. This new report from the Democracy at Work Institute and the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives provides case studies of successful cooperative ownership transitions for cafés in Washington and Oregon; an architecture, building, and energy business in Massachusetts; a natural conservation consultancy firm in Wisconsin; and a landscaping business in Massachusetts. The authors examine how owner involvement, financing, governance structure, and other critical factors affect the conversion process and highlight the need for greater technical assistance and peer support from the cooperative community. 

Beyond Business as Usual: Putting Cooperation to Work in Austin, TX

This report from Cooperation Texas examines the nature and benefits of the cooperative model and identifies barriers and opportunities for worker co-op development. There is a growing economic divide in Austin and worker cooperatives can play a role in addressing these conditions as part of a more equitable approach to community economic development.

Greensboro Community Looks to Food Cooperative to Fill Grocery Gap

A low-income community of color applies a cooperative solution to combat food insecurity
What would you do if the only full-service grocery store in your community suddenly closed? When this misfortune fell upon the residents of northeast Greensboro, North Carolina, they took matters into their own hands and mobilized to build a community-owned store.

Case Studies: Business Conversions to Worker Cooperatives—Insights and Readiness Factors for Owners and Employees

Alison Lingane and Shannon Rieger

These 12 case studies explore the practical promises and pitfalls of converting existing businesses to worker cooperative ownership—a key strategy for building more democratic workplaces. 

A Fair Share: Worker Cooperatives and the Growth of Shared Capitalism

A growing number of business owners are making the decision to turn over ownership to their employees.

This past summer, in a sea-side town in Maine, the state’s largest worker cooperative was created. As a retirement gift, small business owners Vernon and Sandra Seile turned over ownership of their retail businesses to their 40 employees. Ashley Weed, a dutiful worker of the Seiles for 11 years, stated, “I am happy they actually sold it to us, so we don’t have to start at the bottom again.” Read more about A Fair Share: Worker Cooperatives and the Growth of Shared Capitalism...

C4 Tech & Design

Founded in 2002, C4 Tech & Design provides IT services, computer repair, and innovative web design for businesses and non-profits in the Greater New Orleans area.  Committed to the cooperative movement, C4 was a founding member of the Tech Co-op Network, an alliance of North American tech worker co-ops launched in October 2013 to catalyze collaboration and mutual support among technology cooperatives, while educating, encouraging, and supporting would-be cooperators and the general public.  The business has 11 worker-owners. Read more about C4 Tech & Design...

Center for Family Life

The Center for Family Life (CFL) is a nonprofit, social service organization focused on promoting positive outcomes for children, adults, and families in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood.  Aiming to help area residents secure fair wages and dignified employment, CFL began incubating worker-owned cooperatives eight years ago.  Recognizing the potential of the model to create job opportunities for hard-to-employ populations, in 2012 CFL launched a NYC Worker Cooperative Development Initiative, which provides 12 months of training and technical assistance to other community-based groups in Read more about Center for Family Life...

Build With Prospect

The first worker-owned construction company in New York, Build With Prospect, Inc. designs and constructs low energy residences and provides energy audit and retrofit services.  The firm relies on sustainable and ecologically-sound design principles to improve its clients’ health and energy costs, and the environment. Read more about Build With Prospect...

Beyond Childcare

Launched in 2008 to help immigrant women increase their income, build internal leadership, and achieve mutual support, Beyond Care Child Care Cooperative is a worker-owned cooperative with 30 members who provide childcare services.  Founded on the basis of democracy, equality and justice, the Cooperative provides living wage jobs, social supports, and educational opportunities for all its members. Read more about Beyond Childcare...

2015 Association of Cooperative Educators Institute

July 12th, 2015 to July 15th, 2015
Amherst, Massachusetts

The ACE Institute is an annual conference held by the Association of Cooperative Educators, a North American wide organization of cooperative researchers, educators, practitioners and developers with members predominately from the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. The three-day event highlights innovations in cooperative education and development through lectures, workshops, roundtable discussions, and mobile learning sessions. Read more about 2015 Association of Cooperative Educators Institute...

What is Community Wealth Building and Why is it so Important?

CWB builds on local talents, capacities and institutions, rebuilding capital to strengthen and create locally-owned family and community owned businesses.

Crossposted from Veris Wealth Partners

More than a decade ago, my colleagues and I at The Democracy Collaborative began using a term for a new kind of economic development – Community Wealth Building. For years, the term was so uncommon that it almost invariably appeared within quotation marks when used.

Today, a Google search identifies 124,000 entries and is growing daily.

Radical Designs

Founded in 2004, Radical Designs is a worker-owned cooperative that provides web development services to progressive nonprofit and grassroots social change organizations.  The cooperative specializes in strategic on-line campaign consulting, web design and web application development, and the creation and leveraging of open-source applications. Read more about Radical Designs...

How a worker cooperative factory is helping bring textile manufacturing back to North Carolina

An interview with Molly Hemstreet of Opportunity Threads

Opportunity Threads is a worker cooperative cut and sew factory in Morganton, North Carolina. Started in late 2008, it’s an inspiring example of how democratic ownership in manufacturing can create jobs, empower workers, and even rebuild the value chains that sustain a community economically. To find out more about their story, we talked with Molly Hemstreet, the organizer, developer, and now worker-owner who got the ball rolling.

  Read more about How a worker cooperative factory is helping bring textile manufacturing back to North Carolina...

Weaving the Community Resilience and New Economy Movement

Marissa Mommaerts , Ken White and Ben Roberts
Post Carbon Institute

The Post Carbon Institute and Collective Conversations interviewed 18 leaders, including Democracy Collaborative Communications Coordinator John Duda, for a new report on the possibilities for a new, more equitable and democratized economy. Building off of conversations from the Community Resilience and New Economy Network, the collected interviews help to connect different social movements and present creative solutions and alternatives to our current extractive economy. Full transcripts of each interview are also available online.

When Workers Own Their Companies, Everyone Wins

Sean McElwee

This New Republic article explores how cooperatives can support a green and democratic economy.