Different types of cooperatives allow collective and democratic management, in whole or in part, by employees. These enterprises are based on the principle of economic democracy and fair distribution of profits to employees. This model can be equally beneficial for business owners wishing to sell their company as it is for employees wishing to acquire it.
Conventional worker cooperatives
Workers collectively buy the assets of the company for sale.
There are more than 200 worker cooperatives active in various industries in Québec, For example: ambulance services, forestry, restaurants, radio broadcasting, consulting services, and manufacturing.
Workers buy the company’s assets collectively, in partnership with other interested parties. These parties may be the company’s major suppliers, customers, or other community partners. This cooperative model entails a mixed form of management where workers share decision-making with other types of members.
There are nearly 600 solidarity co-ops in Québec active in a broad range of sectors.
Worker-shareholder cooperatives (WSC)
In this model, workers buy a block of shares in the company. This model can allow for a progressive buyout/acquisition in cases where the purchase price is too high, such as occurs in the manufacturing and high-tech industries. If the employees so choose, a WSC could eventually buy all of the shares in the company and convert it to a worker cooperative.
This model can also be used in a mixed type of buy-out, in which key employees purchase a significant block of shares in the company, and involve the remaining employees in creating a WSC.
The size of companies that convert to cooperatives is also quite varied, ranging from as few as three up to several hundred employees. Nonetheless, the average size of companies [that convert to co-ops] is between 15 and 20 employees.
Worldwide, there are 68,000 worker cooperatives employing some 4 million people.
Here are some examples of sectors where cooperative businesses are employee-run:
Agriculture, arts & culture, bars, cafés and show venues, retail, construction, sustainable development, housecleaning, forestry, hospitality and leisure, microbreweries, landscaping & horticulture, video production, consulting services, paramedic & ambulance services, information technology.
To find out more about cooperatives, sign up for one of the Réseau COOP’s training sessions, offered on a regular basis.
Our training sessions will teach you everything you need to know about how a cooperative is run: internal structures; recipes for success; profit-sharing; and financing resources.
Our training sessions are offered every 6 weeks in Montréal, or via Skype.
Check out the Réseau COOP website for upcoming training dates.