epub version
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Another serie of video presentations

On Time magazine’s website, Judith Schwartz reports on Cleveland’s Evergreen worker co-op project, and the inspiration it draws from Mondragon.,8599,1947313,00.html

Nancy Folbre, economist from the University of Massachusetts, covers the Mondragon/USW deal in an article for her blog on the New York Times website, including a link to a prescient article from GEO friend Dan Bell on unions and worker co-ops, from a 2006 Dollars and Sense issue.

Nancy then follows up with a compelling, more general piece, “The Case for Worker Co-ops”, and includes many useful links and references.
Aaron Smith at CNN Money profiles six worker co-ops, including Isthmus Engineering in Madison, WI, and Ronin Tech Collective of Brattleboro, VT.

John MacNamara of worker-owned Union Cab was on the conference call that accompanied the signing of the agreement. He was able to live-blog some of the Q&A – part one and part two.
On Friday, October 30th, 2009, worker co-op developers Andrew McLeod and Lisa Stolarski sat down with Rob Witherell, who is coordinating the plan for the Steelworkers, to discuss how the plan came about and what lies ahead. Andrew’s blog has a synopsis of this discussion.

Andrew recently toured Mondragon and the surrounding area, and has written a wonderful four-part blog entry about his trip.
Mondragon 2: Getting down to business
Visit to Mondragon – interesting blog (part 2) with critics of what they do outside Spain.

Converting an existing business to a worker-owned cooperative

Selling to Your Employees through a Worker Cooperative – and Sheltering Your Capital Gain
by Eric D. Britton & Mark C. Stewart
INTRO: Since 1984, Federal tax law has permitted owners who sell 30% or more of the stock in their closely held company to their employees through a worker cooperative to get the same deferral of taxes on the capital gain on the proceeds of the sale as they would have received if they sold to their employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. This is the so-called “1042 rollover” tax break. As far as we can determine, that provision has never been used for cooperatives – despite the fact that cooperatives can be set up economically in companies with far fewer employees than ESOPs.

About the author: Eric Britton and Mark Stewart are attorneys at Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP, in Toledo. Britton has a well-established ESOP practice and Stewart is Ohio’s leading expert on cooperative law.

Emplopyee Cooperative as a Plan for Business Succession
by Mark Stewart

INTRO: Many small and medium size companies are the result of the enterprise, vision and lifetime work of one or a few individuals (the Owners). When an Owner grows older, he/she begins to have intimations of mortality and realize the need to plan for retirement and sale of the business. If the Owner would like to see the company continue with his or her vision intact, or if the most logical and desirable market for the company is some or all of the Owner’s closest business associates (the employees), the Owner may consider some form of employee acquisition of the company. This inter-generational transfer may be within the Owner’s family, in which case, the Owner may use traditional estate planning techniques. But many business Owners find that handing the business over to the next generation within the family is not an option. Even though the company’s corporate culture may be like a “family”, the next generation who will succeed the Owner may not be members of the Owner’s family. In this case, the Owner and the Owner’s heirs (or charitable beneficiaries, if the Owner has no children) will expect to extract full value upon transfer of the company. This means a sale/purchase agreement with a plan for the ongoing organization and capitalization of the company.

About the author: Mark Stewartis a partner in Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP, a law firm with offices in Toledo and Columbus, Ohio, Tampa, Florida, and Charlotte, North Carolina. Mr. Stewart’s primary practice emphasis is on matters of cooperative law and taxation.

Legal aspects of setting up a Co-op in the USA

Selling to Your Employees through a Worker Cooperative – and Sheltering Your Capital Gain
a recent article that can help sort out worker coop laws Legal Entity Options for Worker Co-ops

Reading Resources:

Worker Coop Development Organizations:

Co-op Business Development Consultants

California Cooperative Development Center
Cooperative Development Services Cooperative
Cooperation Works!
NW Cooperative Development Center
Cooperative Development Foundation


Cooperative Fund of New England

Twin Pines Cooperative Community Fund

National Co-op Bank

Mike Leung, chief organizer of the proposed Worker Cooperative Federal Credit Union and Abolish Human Rentals discusses worker cooperatives and financing issues.

Food/Grocery Specific

National Cooperative Grocers Association
Cooperative Grocers Info. Network (Website & E-Mail list)
Provender Alliance – West Coat Natural Foods Conference

Lawyers, Accountants, & Insurance

Joel Merkel Law Office (Oregon & Washington)
National Society of Accountants for Cooperatives

Worker Co-op & ESOP Networks

Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives
National Center for Employee Ownership
US Federation of Worker Co-ops

Books on US Cooperative Theory and Overviews

Economic Justice and Democracy: From Competition to Cooperation, by Robin Hahnel (2005)
Looking Forward: Participatory Economics for the 21st Century (1999) and The Political Economy of Participatory Economics (1991) by Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel.
Parecon: Life After Capitalism, 2004; Moving Forward: Program for Participatory Economy (2001); and Realizing Hope: Life Beyond Capitalism (2006) by Michael Albert.
Against Capitalism, by David Schweickart (1996)
The Transformation of Capitalist Society, by Zellig Harris (1997)
Workplace Democratization–Its Internal Dynamics by Paul Bernstein
The Participatory Economy (1971); or The Labor-Managed Economy (1977); or Self- Management: Economic Liberation of Man (1975), by Jaroslav Vanek
The Evolution of Cooperation (1984, 2006) and The Complexity of Cooperation by Robert Axelrod (1997).
Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (1990) or Trust & Reciprocity: Interdisciplinary Lessons from Experimental Research (2005), by Elinor Ostrom
Non-Zero: The Logic of Human Destiny, by Robert Wright, 2000.
Benello, C. George. From the Ground Up: Essays on Grassroots & Workplace Democracy, 1992.
Carnoy, Martin and Derek Shearer. Economic Democracy, 1980.
Gates, Jeff. The Ownership Solution: Towards a Shared Capitalism for the 21st Century, 1998.
Gastil, John. Democracy in Small Groups: Participation, Decision Making and Communication, 1993.
Greenberg, Edward S. Workplace Democracy: The Political Effects of Participation, 1986.
Hancock, M. Donald, John Logue, and Bernt Schiller, eds. Managing Modern Capitalism: Industrial Democracy in the United States and Western Europe, 1991.
The Ownership of Enterprise, by Henry Hansmann (2000).
Hill, Patricia M., Maryjean McGrath, and Elena Reyes. Cooperative Bibliography: An Annotated Guide to Works in English on Cooperatives & Cooperation, 1981.
Howard, Michael. Self-management and the Crisis of Socialism, 2000.
Ireland, Norman J. and Peter J. Law. The Economics of Labor-Managed Enterprises, 1982.
Jackall, Robert and Henry Levin, eds. Worker Cooperatives in America, 1985.
Krimerman, Len and Frank Lindenfeld, eds. Workplace Democracy Takes Root in North America, 1992.
America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming our Wealth, Our Liberty, and Our Democracy (2006) by Gar Alperovitz
Making a Place for Community: Local Democracy in a Global Era (Alperovitz with Thad Williamson, and David Imbroscio, 2002).
Curl, John. History of Work Cooperation in America: Cooperatives, Cooperative Movements, Collectivity and Communalism from Early America to the Present, 1980.
Curl, John, Allen Cohen, Judy Berg, Morris Older, and Steve Sutcher. History of Collectivity in the San Francisco Bay Area: From Indian Times to the Present, 1982.
Ellerman, David. The Democratic Worker-Owned Firm (1990).
Ellerman, David. Property & Contract in Economics: The Case of Economic Democracy (1992).
Lutz, Mark A. and Kenneth Lux. Humanistic Economics: The New Challenge, 1988.
Wisman, Jon D. Worker Empowerment: The Struggle for Workplace Democracy, 1991.
Whyte, William Foote, Tove Helland Hammer, Cristopher Meek, Reed Nelson, and Robert Stern. Worker Participation and Ownership: Cooperative Strategies for Strengthening Local Economies, 1983.
Carnoy, Martin and Derek Shearer. Economic Democracy, 1980.
Zwerdling, Daniel. Workplace Democracy: A Guide to Workplace Ownership, Participation, and Self-management Experiments in the United States and Europe, 1980.
McLeod, Greg. From Mondragon to America: Experiments in Community Economic Development, 1998.
Hunnius, Gerry, G. David Garson & John Case. Workers’ Control: A Reader on Labor & Social Change, 1973.

Worker-owned co-operatives startup guides

There are several written guides for starting worker cooperatives, and many more for starting cooperatives in general that include sections on worker cooperatives. Having a good organizer or consultant, or mentor, surely makes any of the guides more useful. A few examples are:

How-To Guides

Putting Democracy to Work: A Practical Guide for Starting and Managing Worker- Owned Businesses, By Frank T. Adams and Gary B. Hansen.
We Own It: Starting & Managing Cooperatives & Employee Owned Ventures, by Peter Jan Honigsberg, Bernard Kamoroff, and Jim Beatty (1991)
No Bosses Here!: A Manual on Working Collectively and Cooperatively, by Karen Brandow, Jim McDonnell,
Vocations for Social Change Developing Successful Worker Co-operatives (Britain, 1988), by Chris Cornforth, Alan Thomas, Roger Spear, and Jenny Lewis.
The Internal Capital Account System, by Richard Feldman (1988).
Workers’ Cooperative Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Setting Up a Workers’ Cooperative, by Peter Cockerton and Ann Whyatt (Britain, 1984)
Hansen, Gary, E. Kim Coontz, and Audrey Malan. Steps to Starting a Worker Co-op, 1997. (copy in Spanish as well)
Bell, Daniel. An Employee Onwer’s Guide to Understanding Financial Reports, 1994.
Bell, Daniel. Bringing Your Employees into the Business: An Employee Ownership Handbook for Small Business, 1988.
Hunter, Dale, Anne Bailey, and Bill Taylor. Co-operacy: A New Way of Being at Work, 1997.
SAJE. Cooperando: A Guide to Spanish Resources on Worker-owned Businesses, 1997.
Worker Ownership Development Foundation (Canada). Starting a Worker Cooperative: An Introduction, 1985, 40 pages.
Linkster, Alex. The Handbook to Get Things Done in Companies with Organizational Democracy, 2008.
Bayat, Assef. Work, Politics, and Power: An International Perspective on Workers’ Control and Self-Management, 1991.
Cheney, George. Values at Work: Employee Participation Meets Market Pressure at Mondragon, 1999.
Ellerman, David. The Mondragon Cooperative Movement, Harvard Business School case study, 1982.
Holmstrom, Mark. Industrial Democracy In Italy, 1985.
Holmstrom, Mark. Spain’s New Social Economy: Workers’ Self-Management In Catalonia, 1993.
ICA Group. Mondragon: An English Language Bibliography, 1985.
Issac, T.M. Thomas, Richard W. Franke, and Pyaralal Raghavan. Democracy at Work: An Indian Industrial Cooperative, 1998.
Axworthy, Christopher S. Worker Cooperatives in Mondragon, the U.K. and France: Some Reflections, 1985. Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, University of Saskatchewan.
Azurmendi, Joxe. El Hombre Cooperativo: Pensamiento de Arizmendiarrieta, 1992.
Ormaechea, Jose Maria. The Mondragon Cooperative Experience (1991).
Mondragon Cooperative Corporation. Mondragon: Forty Years of Co-operative History, 1996.
Dolgoff, Sam, Ed. The Anarchist Collectives: Workers’ Self-management in the Spanish Revolution, 1936-1939, 1990.
Kasmir, Sharryn. The Myth of Mondragon, 1996.
Kaswan, Jaques & Ruth. Cooperative Systems in France, Basque Spain and Frankfurt.
Philip, Kate. “Cooperatives in South Africa: Their Role in Job Creation and Poverty Reduction”, South Africa Foundation Occasional Paper No. 2/2003.
Russell, Raymond. Utopia in Zion: The Israeli Experience with Worker Cooperatives, 1995.
Spiro, Melford E. Kibbutz: Venture in Utopia, 1970.
Whyte, William Foote and Kathleen King Whyte. Making Mondragon: The Growth and Dynamics of the Mondragon Cooperative Complex, 1988.
McLeod, Greg. From Mondragon to America: Experiments in Community Economic Development, 1998.
Magnini, Esteban. The Silent Change: Recovered Businesses in Argentina, 2009.