In 2012, after four years of on-and-off strikes and union negotiations, workers at a Chicago window factory decided to buy their factory and own their jobs together, launching, a worker-owned cooperative. In 2014, employees of a small chain of businesses in Deer Isle, Maine, were worried about terminations when they learned that their founders were retiring. With support from the co-op movement, the employees were able to train themselves on democratic governance while finding the funding they needed to buy their stores, transforming into the . Just this year, the owner of Downtown Sounds, a music shop in Northampton, Massachusetts, pitched the idea of converting the store into a worker co-op, and selling his business to his longtime employees. .
These stories are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the growing trend of businesses being bought out and democratically owned by their employees. And these aren’t isolated incidents: they’re in large part due to organizing from the worker cooperative movement. This shift to converting traditional business to worker-ownership has been a key strategic decision by cooperative advocates.
It’s been more than 10 years since the financial crisis of 2008 , and working people are still being hammered by its effects — stagnating wages, a widening gap between the rich and the poor, and a rise in the sharing economy to meet basic needs.