The Scarcity of Worker Cooperatives in the USA: Enquiring into Possible Causes

By Rebecca Lurie

Last year, the Community and Worker Ownership Project and John Mollenkopf at the Center for Urban Research at the CUNY Graduate Center were pleased to host Professor Sofia Arana Landin for research on cooperative economics in New York City. Her work was extensive in building foundational thought for a comparative study of cooperative enterprises’ success and challenges in the US as compared to other countries, especially in the European Union.

Professor Arana teaches taxation law and cooperatives at the public university in San Sebastian, Spain. Arriving to the states shortly after the inauguration of the 45th president for this research, the juxtaposition of opportunities and constraints was almost too much to bear. Nevertheless, she persisted.

Cooperative businesses, being a hybrid of “for profit” and “social” purposes, have a mission broader than that of a traditional business. She identifies how rules, regulation and policies can support the advance of this model to serve the health of a business, the betterment of its employees, and the well being of communities, all towards the development of a “Social Economy.” The resilience of cooperative businesses is a feature that makes them a strategic building block in these hard economic times and particularly for those from disenfranchised communities.

An argument for a regulatory framework with common definitions suggests there is a key to unlocking paths to equity, justice and prosperity in the economic lives of all involved.

Her paper is published in CIRIEC-España, Revista de Economía Pública, Social y Cooperativa, n 92, april 2018. You can find it here as well, and cite it as follows: ARANA LANDIN, S., “The scarcity of worker cooperatives in the USA: enquiring into possible causes”, CIRIEC-España, Revista de Economía Pública, Social y Cooperativa, n 92, april 2018.

We thank Sofia for coming, listening, studying and reporting towards our shared approach to building a social economy in our city and in the US.