University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperative

The University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperative is a U.S.A. based organization founded in 1962. They provide great resources for Worker Cooperatives and other coops.

My friend and colleague, Matt DeKrey, sent me a link to their Worker Cooperative Toolbox which is a great resource that deals with many structural and legal concepts.

  1. Patronage
  2. Valuation
  3. Dividends


Another important decision that all worker co-ops must make when they start out is the method by which earnings will be divided among individual employees’ ccounts. The allocation among different members’ accounts follows a formula that is typically laid out in the co-op’s bylaws. Return in all cooperatives is based on patronage, not on capital. Patronage in a worker cooperative is defined as labor input, but the way that labor input is calculated can vary between co-ops. Some use hours worked, others use W-2 earnings, and some use a combination of the two. Some co-ops also use a seniority measure (up to a cap) in cases where the co-op is the result of a conversion from a conventionally owned company, in recognition of the value that past labor had in creating the value of the current company. Whatever the formula, each member’s allocation will be made up of an amount proportionate to the amount of each member’s labor input (however measured) rela-tive to total labor input:

Member A’s labor input   Total $ to be   Member A’s
% X allocated among == all allocation for
Total member labor input   Number of members   the year

Also, on page 18, a great Employee Ownership Comparison between Worker Cooperative, Worker Cooperative 308b, ESOP, and Custom. Though, I have no idea what a “Worker Cooperative 308b” is.

Written on February 12, 2023