This resource uses diagrams to depict how the different forms of employee ownership are structured. It focuses on the two primary vehicles for broad-based employee ownership in the United States: worker cooperatives and employee stock ownership plans.
For financial institutions looking to create deep and lasting impact, worker cooperatives are a powerful tool for economic and community development. They reduce inequality by allowing a greater segment of the population to build assets through business ownership. They combat poverty by providing access to employment for marginalized populations. And they strengthen local economies by rooting businesses in their communities.
This resource is intended to give small business support organizations a background on how the worker cooperative model can help entrepreneurs reach their dreams.
Worker cooperatives have increasingly drawn attention from the media, policy makers and academics in recent years. Individual cooperatives across the country have been highlighted, and substantive studies have been conducted of the worker cooperative experience in other countries, including Spain, Italy, France, Canada and Argentina. But what do we know about worker cooperatives in the US as a whole?
After working with professionals to determine which entity type is right for your worker cooperative, the next step is to work with professionals to develop your governing documents. Bylaws and operating agreements should include high-level information about the governance of the organization. They clarify and codify the democratic governance and ownership of your cooperative, help provide a structure through which the cooperative can grow, and provide a last resort for conflict resolution if relationships break down.
This research paper summarizes an examination of the National Establishment Time Series (NETS) dataset for North Carolina and Iowa to gauge the potential for conversions of existing businesses to worker cooperatives. The data demonstrate that the potential is quite large, and that even if only a fraction of these successfully converted to worker ownership and continued to operate at their last year levels, there would be meaningful economic impacts.
The Democracy at Work Institute/USFWC Press Kit includes information about worker cooperatives, why they are important, examples of existing cooperatives and development organizations, city government initiatives, frequently asked questions, and more.
This handbook walks worker owners and cooperative developers through the process of laying the groundwork for, creating, and implementing systems of accountability and evaluation in small to medium sized worker cooperatives.
Editable versions of the toolkit's appendices can be found here.