How does a business go about transitioning —“converting”— to a worker-owned cooperative? This report provides illustrations with case studies of businesses that have converted and highlights key lessons from those companies’ experiences. The report categorizes conversions into four types: Type I: Owner sells to existing employees with the intention of remaining with the company; Type … Read More
This primer focuses on one set of tools the labor movement can utilize to build power, expand wealth, and deepen member engagement in the years ahead: worker ownership. It explores: How Unions and Worker Ownership Work Together How Worker Ownership Can Build Power for Workers The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: Overcoming Challenges Looking … Read More
Businesses interested in transitioning into employee ownership are often presented with a structural dilemma: convert into an ESOP or a cooperative? Go for the democratic worker control and participation of a cooperative, or the tax benefits of an ESOP? In this article the author describes how he helped a company, Sun Light & Power, combine … Read More
This case study focuses on Wawa, the convenience store, gas station and restaurant company. Founded in 1803, Wawa morphed over time from an iron foundry to a textile mill, to a dairy farm, dairy delivery business, grocery store, then convenience store. Dark clouds descended with the 2008 financial crisis. As competitors converged on Wawa, management … Read More
This case illustrates the rationale for adopting employee ownership, and difficulties in implementing employee empowerment beyond investment. In the beginning it focuses on why Jerry Pritchett, one of the co-founders of Pritchett Controls, decided to convert it to an employee-owned company. In the body of the case, it details the efforts of the company to … Read More
In the wake of the 2010 Massey mining disaster in West Virginia, the author asks whether employee ownership could improve workplace safety, and how such cooperatives might serve as a model for an alternative form of capitalism based on the sustainable use of natural and human resources.
In an unusual partnership, the United Steelworkers of America union helped the firm’s new owner-managers convert to an ESOP as part of a reorganization. This effort saved jobs and the company. Since that time, the firm’s employees have proven to be its most valuable asset and a key source of its competitive advantage…
Mid-Missouri Energy is a farmer-owned cooperative created to take advantage of the growing interest in ethanol as an automotive fuel.
Should a fast-growing, employee-owned solar electric company accept a buyout offer from a private equity investor? Could it do so without sacrificing its distinctive, high-involvement culture? Namaste Solar, a 55-person firm based in Boulder, Colorado, designed and installed solar electric systems for residential, commercial, non-profit and government customers. In 2008, the company had been growing … Read More
Each of Namaste’s 27 co-owners receives the same compensation, has equal voice in decision-making, and is afforded the same opportunities to participate in company ownership, says Namaste president Blake Jones, who reluctantly adopted his title to give customers and the media a sense of company leadership.