Worker Cooperative Census

The Worker Co-op Census is the first national study of worker cooperatives from the perspective of individual employees and worker-owners. It is a major new research project of The Democracy at Work Institute in partnership with the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives and researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

This study will further our collective work to build the field, advocate for worker co-ops in the political arena, and serve our grassroots members. Our movement has spent years telling stories about how democratic worker ownership impacts people's lives, and this is DAWI's first effort to tell that story with high-quality empirical data that represents the entire spectrum of workplace experiences and attitudes across the country.

The Worker Co-op Census builds on the 2010 Shared Capitalism at Work study by Joseph Blasi, Douglas Kruse, and Richard Freeman that documented how employee ownership through employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) and profit sharing is associated with higher job quality, lower turnover, and more involvement in management decisions. We suspect this association is even stronger in cooperatives that pair worker ownership with democratic governance—but we need the data to prove it.

The study will roll out in two phases. Starting in January 2017, the research team will invite individuals at worker cooperatives across the country to participate in a brief, confidential survey about their workplace experiences and attitudes. Responses will be aggregated across all participants and no individual or workplace will be identifiable in the results. Starting in March 2017, the research team will also invite a small group of employees and worker-owners to participate in qualitative face-to-face interviews and draw out key themes in the quantitative data. Again, all individuals and workplaces will remain anonymous.

For more information, please check out Frequently Asked Questions (English & Español) about the Worker Co-op Census.

If your workplace would like to participate in the Worker Co-op Census, please fill out this form. If you are interested in using the final dataset in your own research, please contact our Study Director, Laura Hanson Schlachter, at census [at] usworker.coop or (608) 262-9588.