Worker Co-ops

What Is a Worker Cooperative?

A worker cooperative is a values-driven business that puts worker and community benefit at the core of its purpose. The two central characteristics of worker cooperatives are: 

  • workers own the business and they participate in its financial success on the basis of their labor contribution to the cooperative 

  • workers have representation on and vote for the board of directors, adhering to the principle of one worker, one vote

In addition to their economic and governance participation, worker-owners often manage the day-to-day operations through various management structures. 

Worker cooperative facts and figures

  • Number of worker cooperatives in the United States: 300-400

  • Total number of people working at worker cooperatives in the United States: 7,000

  • Total annual revenues generated by worker cooperatives: $400 million

  • Average size of a worker cooperative: 50 people (the median is 10 people)

  • Largest worker co-op: Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA) with over 2,000 workers 

  • Number of worker cooperatives formed since the start of the 21st century: over 150

  • Percentage of worker cooperatives that began as traditional for-profit enterprises: 26%

  • Percentage of worker cooperatives that have annual revenues over $1 million: 31%

  • Average annual profit margin for a worker cooperative: 6.4%

  • Worker cooperatives structures: 46% incorporate under cooperative statutes, 26% operate as LLCs and the remainder are C-corporations, partnerships, and other.