While the US economy remains sluggish, companies owned and managed by employees are faring better. They are more innovative, efficient, and profitable than the norm and are gaining attention. Encouraging worker-owned businesses can help the economy be more equitable, without new taxes and government regulations.
The worker coops and employee owned businesses listed in the regional categories below provide decent jobs in workplaces where employees have a stake. These businesses are less likely to move away from their local communities – contributing to a more sustainable economy.
**Please note that the information below is just a starting point, and is not exhaustive. New cooperative businesses are popping up all over, with lots of young people getting involved. And retiring baby boomers are selling their businesses to employees, so these businesses can continue. The movement is growing every day.
Would you like to suggest an addition to one or more of the regional bullets below? Highlight employee owned businesses in another state? Please contact us.
US Coops and Worker Owned Businesses By Region
To download a PDF of the information below, click here:
SHIFT CHANGE includes Arizmendi Bakeries located in San Francisco, Oakland, San Rafael, Emeryville, and WAGES cooperatives of mainly Latina women who do green housecleaning all around the Bay Area. The Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives helps dozens of other worker coops support one another.
The national office of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives is in San Francisco. The office of the National Center for Employee Ownership is in Oakland. The San Francisco waste management firm Recology, SF Green Cab, as well as Berrett-Koehler Publishers are employee owned. Renowned energy bar company, Clif Bar is a family and employee owned company in Emeryville. The mayor’s office in Richmond promotes worker cooperatives as an employment and community development strategy.
The California Coop Development Center is in Davis. The very successful Alvarado Street Bakery Cooperative, recently named one of “Great Places to Work,” is in Petaluma. Carl Warren and Company (insurance), Entertainment Partners, LeFiell Manufacturing Company in Los Angeles all have employee ownership.
UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Business hosted a special screening of SHIFT CHANGE together with the filmmakers last February. The Beyster Institute in La Jolla sponsors academic research on employee ownership across the country, including special programs at Rutgers University. Ata Engineering in San Diego received an “Innovations in Employee Ownership” award in 2008.
There are numerous Canadian cooperatives and they are strongest in Quebec. The multi-billion dollar Cirque du Soleil is a cooperative. The Canadian Worker Co-op Federation reports a lot of interest in SHIFT CHANGE.
New Belgium Brewery in Ft. Collins is employee owned with a participatory culture. Namaste Solar in Boulder and Denver is a large company that converted to become an employee owned cooperative in 2011. The world class engineering firm CH2M Hill with 30,000 employees credits their success in part to their employee ownership program and entrepreneurial culture.
Publix Supermarkets has grown from a single store in 1930 into the largest employee-owned grocery chain in the United States with 159,000 employees.
East Point, south of Atlanta, is home to the Southern Federation of Cooperatives that has promoted African American coops in the South for 45 years.
The Center for Workplace Democracy works to develop strong local economies and grow small businesses by promoting workplace democracy, cooperatives and other models of employee ownership. Chicago will host the U.S. Federation of Worker Coop 2014 Conference. New Era Windows and Doors is a worker coop. Employee owned Amsted Industries designs and manufactures products for railroads and other heavy construction. Registered Green Supplier K & C Electric is employee owned.
SHIFT CHANGE profiles Equal Exchange, based in West Bridgewater near Boston. It was founded in 1986 as a workers cooperative with a social mission, importing fair trade organic coffee, chocolate, tea, etc. Another of the many Boston area worker coops is Community Builders Cooperative, in Somerville. At MIT, the Community Innovators Lab (CoLab) encourages cooperatives at its center for planning and development within the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. The New Economy Coalition holds a conference in Boston in early June, especially attracting younger people. Cambridge based Ownership Associates has a long history of assisting privately held companies to become employee owned.
The region around Northampton has a strong network of worker coops with paid staff to help them support one another, and encourage new coops. U MASS Amherst hosts the Cooperative Enterprise Collaborative. In Springfield there is the newly formed Wellspring Cooperative.
Worker coops include The HUB Bike Coop, Equal Exchange, Zenith City Food Coop. The area has several housing cooperatives, and St. Paul is home to a national coop development and training group, Cooperation Works.
Worker cooperatives are taking off. There is an active New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives offering technical assistance, and coop leadership training. The largest worker coop in the U.S. is Cooperative Home Care Associates [2200 worker-owners, also members of the Service Employees International Union] located in the Bronx, as are the Green Worker Cooperatives and the Working World. Brooklyn’s Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies develops worker coops to assist low income people. They helped organize a heavily attended City Council hearing on the promise of worker co-ops in February, 2014. Two recent articles on worker coops appeared in the New York Times: Who Needs a Boss? and A Way for Artists to Live.
Firestorm Café and Books in Asheville, and Opportunity Threads in Morganton are examples of worker coops in the state.
Portland is home to a branch of Equal Exchange and People’s Food Coop, as well as many other coops. Full Sail brewery in Hood River, as well as Woodfold Manufacturing in Forest Grove, are employee owned.
Ailing rust belt city Cleveland hosts the innovative Evergreen Cooperatives, the opening story in SHIFT CHANGE. The city economic development office, the Cleveland Foundation, and key public institutions are working together to revitalize the local economy with 3 new worker coops and more in the works.
The leading academic center in the country for facilitating employee ownership is the 30 year old Ohio Employee Ownership Center at Kent State University. Also based in Kent is the Davey Tree Expert employee owned company of 7,400. EBO Group near Akron is a fully employee owned engineering and precision manufacturing firm with a worldwide reputation for quality rooted in its participatory work culture. Fastener Industries in Berea points to over 30 years of employee ownership as contributing to company success.
Cinncinnati is home to Our Harvest Coop, one of the very first cooperatives organized on a union coop model promoted by the United Steelworkers union and the United Food and Commercial Workers union.
Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance is a network of the growing numbers of cooperatives in the area. In Reading the mayor’s office, in collaboration with the United Steelworkers and local leaders, has developed a community development model based around worker coops. In Pittsburgh the United Steelworkers have a unionized industrial cooperative underway.
There are many employee owned businesses based in Austin, including Black Star Pub and Brewery, Gaia internet hosting, Monkey Wrench Books, and a coop development organization, Cooperation Texas.
In Seattle the Massachusetts based Equal Exchange runs Ballard Espresso bar shown in SHIFT CHANGE. There is an active cooperative network, called SLICE, and a new effort called the Emerald City Cooperative Initiative that draws on the Cleveland model. PCC Natural Markets is an 11 store coop supermarket chain owned by its members. Group Health Cooperative pioneered the managed care model of health services. Recreational Equipment Inc. is the very large outdoor gear consumer coop with 100+ stores nationwide. Olympia also has several worker coops and the NW Cooperative Development Center. Bellingham has Circle of Life coop, and is the home city for the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies [BALLE] which is increasingly collaborating with coops to build more fair and sustainable local economies.
Organic Valley and many other farm cooperatives inspired by Scandinavian immigrants are headquartered in Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin Madison has an active Center for Cooperatives. Madison has a network of worker coops including some of the oldest in the U.S. – some 40 years in business. The innovative engineering firm, Isthmus, also Community Pharmacy and Union Cab appear in SHIFT CHANGE.
Milwaukee has new worker coops forming and is the home of Harley-Davidson, a world renowned motorcycle company which is employee owned and managed democratically. Scot Forge, a fully employee owned company in business for over 100 years, has a major manufacturing facility in Clinton.
*Map of United States of America (on homepage) by FreeVectorMaps.com