Expanding Economic Opportunity by Growing Worker Cooperatives

The worker cooperative—a democratic form of business ownership—has struggled to take hold and grow to scale in the US. Though the US economy has a large cooperative sector, most of these co-ops are consumer co-ops. Credit unions and electric co-ops are the two largest sectors, with well over 100 million member-owners between them. Indeed, credit unions alone now have 115.3 million member-owners. The worker cooperative sector, by contrast, is much more modest in scale. According to a November 2017 report(based on 2015 data) from the nonprofit Democracy at Work Institute, in the US an estimated 323 worker-cooperatives have 6,033 worker-owners and combined revenues of $395 million.

But worker cooperatives are growing, and so is the ecosystem supporting them. In recent months, two well-established cooperatives, the Evergreen Cooperative Laundry in Cleveland and Red Emma’s in Baltimore, have announced plans for expansion.

Read more at Nonprofit Quarterly!