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

Author(s): 
Courtney Berner, Michaela Holmes, Anne Reynolds, and Joe Rinehart
Year: 
2015

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.

Guide to Worker Cooperative Bylaws and Operating Agreements

Author(s): 
Camille Kerr
Year: 
2015

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.

The Rural Succession Dilemma and the Cooperative Solution

Author(s): 
Tim Palmer
Year: 
2014

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. 

Becoming Employee-Owned

Author(s): 
Camille Kerr, Joe Rinehart
Year: 
2014

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.

Creating Better Jobs and a Fairer Economy with Worker Cooperatives

Author(s): 
Democracy at Work Institute
Year: 
2014

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. 

Choosing a Business Entity: A Guide for Worker Cooperatives

Author(s): 
Camille Kerr
Year: 
2014

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.

Trade unions and worker cooperatives: Where are we at?

Author(s): 
Pierre Laliberte, Editor
Year: 
2013

At a time when trust in conventional capitalist governance is at a historical low, worker cooperatives demonstrate that, given a fair chance, workers can run the show by themselves and it is indeed a good moment for trade unions to challenge received ideas about worker cooperatives. This journal includes six (6) articles about the relationship between unions and worker cooperatives throughout the world.

Providing the Right Support: Are the Training Needs of Multi-Stakeholder Cooperatives Unique?

Author(s): 
Courtney Berner
Year: 
2013

Multi-stakeholder cooperatives (MSCs) are co-ops that are owned and controlled by more than one type of membership class such as consumers, producers, workers, volunteers, or community supporters. Stakeholders can be individuals or organizations such as non-profits, businesses, government agencies, or even other cooperatives. Instead of focusing on the needs of a single membership class, MSCs are often built around a broad mission that addresses the interests of the various stakeholder groups. The number of MSCs in the U.S. is small but growing.

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