This paper aims to help build the field of U.S. worker co-op development by providing a current view of the cooperative landscape and by analyzing factors that inhibit or promote cooperative development. Although informed by the cooperative giants in Europe, this analysis highlights lessons learned through the development and growth of worker co-ops in the U.S.
Though they end up as owners and decision-makers, workers in low-income communities often don’t start off doing all the work of developing and growing a worker-owned cooperative themselves. This is even true for the Mondragón Cooperative Corporation, the world’s single largest worker cooperative network and a leading source of inspiration for efforts to build worker cooperatives to scale in the United States.
Today, corporate profits are at an all-time high and employee wages are at their lowest ever as a percent of GDP. Worker cooperatives embody the hope that we can reverse the downward spiral in wage stagnation, wealth distribution, and concentration of ownership to build an economy that truly serves people and communities. But what will it really take to create a more cooperative economy?
Hilary Abell, author of the Democracy Collaborative report “Worker Cooperatives: Pathways to Scale”, talks with Grit TV’s Laura Flanders about the policies and best practices that can help grow the worker cooperative sector in the United States.