Worker Cooperative support organizations

Democracy at Work Institute
1904 Franklin Street, Ste 400
Oakland, CA 94612
(415) 379-9201

U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives
1904 Franklin Street, Ste 400
Oakland, CA 94612
(415) 392-7277

Cooperative Development Institute
P.O. Box 1051
Northampton, MA 01061-1051
Fax: 413-541-8300

Democracy Collaborative
Washington, D.C. Office (202) 559-1473
The Ring Building
1200 18th Street NW
Suite 1225
Washington, D.C. 20036

Cleveland Office (216) 282-2022 fax: (216) 785-2068
The Hanna Building
1422 Euclid Ave.
Suite 1652 
Cleveland, OH 44115

Community Wealth houses an extensive collection of resources focused on Worker-Owned Cooperatives and this model’s role in community wealth building. Below is a glimpse of the rich array of materials you will find as you explore our site:

Our Best Practices section showcases exemplary worker-owned cooperatives from across the country. For instance, one such organization is Women's Action to Gain Economic Security (WAGES) in Oakland, California. Founded to promote the economic and social wellbeing of low-income women, WAGES helps immigrant Latinas develop and run eco-friendly housekeeping enterprises. The organization currently supports five such cooperatives that together employ more than 95 women worker-owners.

Our Support Organizations section features major organizations working to support worker-owned cooperatives across the U.S. One such group is the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, a national membership organization that helps advance worker-owned, -managed, and -governed workplaces through cooperative education, advocacy and development.

Our Research Resources section highlights web-based resources focused on worker-owned cooperatives. For example, the Democracy at Work Institute’s on-line Resource Library includes a wide range of materials on the model such as start-up toolkits, academics paper, and governance and management guides.

Our Articles and Publications section includes links to a diverse selection of articles, reports, papers, and books focused on worker-owned cooperatives. One such report is Nina K. Dastur’s Understanding Worker-Owned Cooperatives (2012), published by the Center for Community Change, which outlines the benefits of worker-owned cooperatives, explains how the model aligns with the goals of grassroots organizing groups, and identifies strategies that organizers can use to support cooperative development.

Our Toolbox features resources designed to help those working on the ground to establish and promote worker-owned cooperatives. For instance, Minsun Ji and Tony Robinson’s Immigrant Worker Owned Cooperatives: A User's Manual (2012) provides detailed information about how to create, finance, manage, and grow worker cooperatives.

And, lastly, our Policy Guide provides an overview of federal initiatives and programs that can help practitioners leverage resources and increase their impact. For example, the USDA’s Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program funds technical assistance centers that support the development of cooperative businesses.


$5 Million for Co-op Development in Madison WI

Kevin Gundlach, president of the South Central Federation of Labor in Madison, WI, had heard about Spain's Mondragon cooperative complex and their union cooperatives in the U.S.

Then he bumped into the mayor, Paul R. Soglin, at a community picnic. Gundlach told Soglin about his idea to have the city help with cooperative development, not just to create good jobs, but to support neighborhoods. The mayor, Gundlach, responded with: “This is something I’d been interested in as well.”

Soon after that conversation, Soglin initiated Madison’s Capitol Improvement Plan, “Co-operative Enterprises for Job Creation & Business Development.” This plan would authorize the city to spend $1 million each of five years starting in 2016 to fund “cooperative/worker-owned business formation for the purposes of job creation and general economic development in the city.”



University of Wisconsin - Madison, 
Center for Cooperatives

The University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives seeks to increase understanding and encourage critical thinking about cooperatives by fostering scholarship and mutual learning among academics, the cooperative community, policy makers and the public.


What do we... know about worker co-operatives?

This research by Professor Virginie PĂ©rotin of Leeds University Business School looks at two decades’ worth of international data on worker owned co-operatives. It confirms that worker co-operatives offer an appealing option that gives the people working there ownership, involvement and a degree of job security in what are often high performing and productive businesses. Updated: 09/02/2016

Executive summary

The idea that employees can run their own firms might sound unrealistic
to some. This study looks at international data on worker-owned and run
businesses in Europe, the US and Latin America and compares them with
conventional businesses. It also reviews international statistical studies on the
firms’ productivity, survival, investment and responsiveness.

It finds that worker co-operatives represent a serious business alternative and
bring significant benefits to their employees and to the economy. There are
thousands of worker-run businesses in Europe, employing several hundred
thousand people in a broad range of industries, from traditional manufacturing
to the creative and high-tech industries.

Because worker co-operatives are owned and run by them, employees in
worker-owned co-operatives have far more say in the business, from day-to-day
concerns through to major strategic issues.

The largest study comparing the productivity of worker co-operatives with
that of conventional businesses finds that in several industries, conventional
companies would produce more with their current levels of employment and
capital if they behaved like employee-owned firms.

When market conditions change worker cooperatives review wages first and
keep employment more stable. In a downturn worker co-operatives drop wages
rather than reducing their workforce. When business picks up they are ready to
respond and can make up for lost pay because employees enjoy a share of profit.

The main findings from the analysis and review are:

Worker co-operatives are larger than conventional businesses and not
necessarily less capital intensive

Worker co-operatives survive at least as long as other businesses and have
more stable employment

Worker cooperatives are more productive than conventional businesses,
with staff working “better and smarter” and production organised more

Worker co-operatives retain a larger share of their profits than other
business models

Executive and non-executive pay differentials are much narrower in worker
co-operatives than other firms

The 26 page report can be downloaded at  research  


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