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.
The Institute publishes monthly a piece from a cooperative developer exploring a question, model or challenge in developing worker cooperatives. This is our first step towards creating a compendium of “effective practices” in worker cooperative development. We aim to foster spirited and collegial, critical and respectful, conversation on how best to develop cooperatives that work for workers and their communities over the long term. Our aim is to address the deeper issues both animating and challenging worker cooperative development right now. Readers will emerge with a richer understanding of the landscape of worker cooperative development and a critical analysis of some worker cooperative development models and practices.
The idea of selling a business to its employees and converting it to a worker owned cooperative is gaining traction as a viable succession strategy. It is a strategy that saves jobs, builds community wealth, and empowers workers to own and manage their own business. Worker cooperatives differ from other business entity types in that they are owned and democratically controlled by their workers, and workers share in the risk and reward of operating the business.
This resource is intended to give small business support organizations a background on how the worker cooperative model can help entrepreneurs reach their dreams.
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.
Becoming Employee-Owned is a guide for business owners interested in employee ownership. It provides an overview of the three primary transition approaches for employee ownership: worker cooperatives, ESOPs, and management buy-outs. Regardless of what stage the business is in--from expansion to succession planning-- this resource can help business owners understand their options for becoming an employee-owned company.
When forming, worker cooperatives have an important choice to make regarding their legal entity. Each entity type has implications on important issues including taxation, employment law, and access to capital. This resource is intended to give a brief overview of the entity types and lay out the issues worker cooperatives may want to consider when choosing which is the best fit for the business at whatever stage it is currently in.
Worker cooperatives are a powerful tool for economic and community development. This resource describes their role in creating a more just economy. It provides an overview of the benefits of the cooperative form, with examples of existing cooperatives and quotes from worker-owners. The resource also describes current initiatives to develop cooperatives by nonprofits, as well as government initiatives to spur the growth of the sector.
This piece comes from Sherman Kreiner at the University of Winnipeg Community Renewal Corporation. Kreiner is a longtime community economic development practitioner using worker ownership. His work at PACE in Philadelphia, including the O&O Supermarkets, Childspace and Home Care Associates, may be most familiar to our readers. His piece here explains the University of Winnipeg's development model based on four pillars of sustainability, and he makes the case that the anchor institution in an anchor strategy must provide significant leadership for the initiative to be most effective.