This is an exciting time to be engaged with worker cooperatives. The worker cooperative model has stood the test of time; its foundations have been in place since 1844, when the Rochdale Pioneers developed their creative response to the suffering of displaced workers during the Industrial Revolution. Since 2008, the Great Recession has inspired more and more workers, advocates, and community developers to bring their creativity and energy to the next generation of the cooperative movement, fueling an explosion of co-op-related discussion and initiatives.
- Business Readiness Factors: Help businesses figure out how ready they are, and how they can set themselves up for a smoother and more successful transition to worker ownership
- Motivations: Core reasons that business owners and employees decide to convert to a worker coop
- Typology of Conversions: Four different types of worker coop conversions based on the situation of the owners and its employees
- Case Studies: A dozen case studies of businesses that have converted to worker cooperatives
The Democracy at Work Institute has released the latest publication in the Worker Cooperative Industry Research Series, focusing on Craft Beer. The report examines the opportunities, challenges, and cooperative potential in the industry, which is still growing after more than two decades of upward trends. The success of Black Star Brewery and Pub Co-Op, as well as the ESOP-owned New Belgium Brewing Company provide models for replication and education.
This pro forma template is intended to aid cooperative entrepreneurs (and the developers who serve them) in making a preliminary financial assessment of their worker cooperative startup. Many worker cooperative startups are learning business finances for the first time. This tool offers a framework to think about their business and some labor-saving, pre-built Excel formulas.
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.
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.
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.