Resources on starting a worker co-op?

Dr. Wolff, I am considering starting a company and I would of course like my company to reflect my economic and political beliefs. Can you share any resources for starting a company in the vein of a worker co-op? Are there, e.g., lawyers who specialize in drafting the regulations of such an organization, and other documents? Is there any community of business service providers, e.g. legal, accounting, etc., that believe in worker co-ops and so offer their services at a reduced price to co-ops? More abstractly, do you have any advice for structuring the organization? In my case, it would be tech company. With only founders and no investors or employees it would be structured like a worker co-op in a sense. Maintaining the structure as a co-op as we gain employees seems relatively straightforward. But what about investors --- does status as a co-op mean we cannot really have investors in the traditional sense? Can you speak about the lifecycle of a technology startup and how it might be different for a worker co-op? I realize this was a barrage of questions. But the general thrust is: can you speak about, or offer resources regarding, the actual practical issues of founding and growing a worker co-op? Thank you for your time and all that you do. Best, Henry

Official response from submitted

The simple answer to your question is "yes." There are such resources (lawyers, accountants, etc.) who are committed in principle to helping either convert existing, traditional businesses into worker coops or else starting worker coops. Some have had long experience with ESOPs where workers buy ownership of the enterprise in which they work. They then sometimes go on to take the next step, namely transitioning from worker ownership to worker directorship, i.e. making the enterprise worker-run as well as worker-owned. Our organization, democracy@work has a working partnership with some of these resources and more are available both in the US and even more in Europe.

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  • Richard Wolff
    responded with submitted 2017-01-07 23:28:33 -0500
  • Henry Harrison
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-01-07 17:12:59 -0500