Just what is a worker cooperative?
Worker cooperatives are employee-owned companies structured on a one-member, one vote basis.
The following is excerpted from "The Benefits of Worker Cooperatives" by The Democracy at Work Institute and used with permission:
Worker cooperatives are values-driven businesses that put worker and community benefit at the core of their purpose. In contrast to traditional companies, workers at worker cooperatives participate in the profits, oversight, and often management of the organization using democratic practices. Workers own the majority of the equity in the business, and control the voting shares.
The model has proven to be an effective tool for creating and maintaining sustainable, dignified jobs; generating wealth; improving the quality of life of workers; and promoting community and local economic development, particularly for people who lack access to business ownership or even sustainable work options.
Worker cooperatives build local wealth
At a worker cooperative, profits do not go to distant investors, but instead go directly to the workers. As a result, the money stays grounded in the local economy, building community wealth. With ownership in the hands of workers, who are usually living and spending locally, these companies stay connected and accountable to their communities.
Worker cooperatives create quality jobs
Workers have a meaningful role in the business, as they contribute to and benefit from the success of a company they co-own. Jobs at worker cooperatives tend to be longer-term, offer extensive skills training, and provide better wages than similar jobs in conventional companies. Furthermore, worker cooperatives offer opportunities for greater participation in management and governance decisions that help the business succeed.
Worker cooperatives create meaningful change for underserved populations
The New York Times concludes “by placing workers’ needs ahead of profits, they address the root cause of economic disparity.” More than half of worker cooperatives in the United States today were designed to improve low-wage jobs and build wealth in communities most directly affected by inequality, helping vulnerable workers build skills and earning potential, household income and assets.