The United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC) is the national grassroots membership organization for worker cooperatives and democratic workplaces. Our mission is to build a thriving ecosystem for worker-owned and controlled businesses – and their cooperative leaders– to power movements for racial justice and economic democracy.
Our Federation includes more than 370 business and organizational members. We represent the 1,000 estimated worker co-ops and their 10,000 workers across the country. We organize through local cooperative networks while building power with national and international partners to advance an agenda for economic justice rooted in community-based, shared ownership.
The USFWC was founded in 2004 when a core of worker co-op members came together with co-op developers, scholars, community organizers, and supporters from the broader co-op sector to strengthen worker co-ops through a national, sector-specific organization. Building on growing momentum, this founding event brought together worker co-op practitioners from the existing Western Worker Co-op Conference and the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy, as well as key players in Midwest and Southern states, to galvanize and support rising interest in the worker co-op business model. We organized an inaugural conference in Minneapolis to launch the Federation, deliberating over a long weekend to articulate a shared vision, identity, and organizational structure for this new democratically-run national organization.
From its very inception, the USFWC has centered the leadership of workers from democratic workplaces and of historically marginalized communities; especially leadership of color and leaders from low-income and immigrant communities. To this day, our membership is comprised of worker co-ops, democratic workplaces (consumer cooperatives, non-profits, and ESOPs with democratic staff management), cooperative developers, and various organizations and individuals that support worker cooperatives. These Federation members range from 2 to 2,000 workers and span dozens of industries with varying management and governance structures.
As a membership and advocacy organization, we connect worker cooperative members to benefits, to each other and to the larger cooperative and economic justice movements. We amplify our members’ voices to advocate for worker cooperatives at the local, state and national level. We provide consulting and technical assistance to cooperatives old and new. And through the education, training and organizing work of our partner organization, the Democracy at Work Institute, we are committed to ensuring cooperative business ownership reaches those who need it the most.
Our Federation is led by a 100% member-elected Board of Directors, member councils, and a small but mighty staff with offices in Oakland, CA and Philadelphia, PA. Annual membership dues are our primary funding source, supplemented by small grants, consulting and program contracts, and individual contributions.
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