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It's your work.
Own it.

We are buying and building some of Spokane’s most iconic businesses, and turning them over to employee ownership and control. We fundamentally believe everyone deserves economic freedom and self-determination, and we’re using worker-owned cooperatives to make it happen.

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Productivity and wages graph

Productivity is higher than ever, but worker’s salaries have barely budged in 40 years. When wage growth does happen, it’s 15 times higher for the top .1% than the bottom 90%.

economic policy institute, 2020

The Spokane Workers Cooperative pays a living wage as a minimum for all workers. Our lowest wages are 22% higher than the national median wage.

economic policy institute, 2020

Wage Graph

Wealth inequality in the United States is higher today than it was during the Gilded Age, with three men owning more wealth than the bottom 50% of Americans.

Yahoo News, 2021

Institute for policy studies, 2021

All SWC workers are also owners, equitably sharing company profits. As the company grows and thrives, its worker-owners build meaningful wealth not accessible in traditional ownership structures.

Union Membership Graph

Most American workers have very minimal control over their daily work life. Union representation is half what it was in 1983, and roles traditionally held by employees are being increasingly outsourced to contractors, who have virtually no power in these labor relations.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020

Democracy is built in at SWC, top to bottom: day-to-day decision-making is kept as close to immediately affected teams as possible, and our governing board of directors always has a super-majority of worker representation.

COOP PAY EQUITY | The average Fortune 500 CEO makes 299 times as much as the average worker. In co-ops, the pay differential between management and the average worker rarely exceeds 4 to 1.
COOP PAY EQUITY | The average Fortune 500 CEO makes 299 times as much as the average worker. In co-ops, the pay differential between management and the average worker rarely exceeds 4 to 1.
COOP PAY EQUITY | The average Fortune 500 CEO makes 299 times as much as the average worker. In co-ops, the pay differential between management and the average worker rarely exceeds 4 to 1.

Co-op Businesses

We are interested in all types of businesses within the Spokane Region. We’re just getting started, but our first acquisitions will be based on helping local business owners interested in worker ownership make that transition. As we grow, our focus will be:

How does it work?

SWC is a Limited Cooperative Association, which allows worker-owners to partner with investors.

  • Making it easier for workers to find community-focused investment
  • Allowing investors to make a meaningful, direct impact on their communities

We use our funds to buy beloved community institutions and turn them over to employee control, giving workers autonomy, ownership and financial freedom.

  • Every acquired business adds strength, resiliency and value to SWC.
  • Each worker and investor own a piece of the whole thing, sustaining amazing jobs, mitigating risk, and keeping more wealth directly in our community.

All employees of SWC businesses become worker–owners after a 90 day trial period.

  • SWC is governed by a board of directors elected from among the worker and investor members with there being twice as many worker-owner directors as there are investor-owner directors.

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“While in the U.S. the average ratio of CEO compensation in the Fortune 500 companies to the ordinary worker’s has recently been reported as 344:1,49 in co-ops the pay-differential between management and the average worker rarely exceeds 4:1.
“While in the U.S. the average ratio of CEO compensation in the Fortune 500 companies to the ordinary worker’s has recently been reported as 344:1,49 in co-ops the pay-differential between management and the average worker rarely exceeds 4:1.
“While in the U.S. the average ratio of CEO compensation in the Fortune 500 companies to the ordinary worker’s has recently been reported as 344:1,49 in co-ops the pay-differential between management and the average worker rarely exceeds 4:1.

The minds behind it

The Spokane Worker’s Cooperative is an ambitious project. It’s also the brainchild of a team with a track record of developing successful and equitable community organizations.

Let’s Coop-erate.

​​Becoming a worker-owner isn’t for everyone, but it is for those who are interested in owning the fruits of their labor and sharing in the difficult decisions required to keep a business alive and thriving. While our vision is pretty fleshed out, doing things differently is always an adventure. For those who love adventure, help us build this.

BUsinesses

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

  • Kara Odegard - Investor Member
    Elected March 2022
  • Luke Baumgarten - Worker Member
    RANGE Media - Elected March 2022
  • Valerie Osier - Worker Member
    RANGE Media - Elected March 2022
  • Brennon Poynor - Worker Member
    SPOKAST! - Elected March 2022

We are incredibly grateful to have amazing community partners and investors already involved in what we’re doing:

community partners

investors

  • Nancy Schaub
  • Mark and Kara Odegard
  • Northwest Cooperative Development Center
“While in the U.S. the average ratio of CEO compensation in the Fortune 500 companies to the ordinary worker’s has recently been reported as 344:1,49 in co-ops the pay-differential between management and the average worker rarely exceeds 4:1.
“While in the U.S. the average ratio of CEO compensation in the Fortune 500 companies to the ordinary worker’s has recently been reported as 344:1,49 in co-ops the pay-differential between management and the average worker rarely exceeds 4:1.
“While in the U.S. the average ratio of CEO compensation in the Fortune 500 companies to the ordinary worker’s has recently been reported as 344:1,49 in co-ops the pay-differential between management and the average worker rarely exceeds 4:1.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a worker coop?

A worker cooperative (Co-op) is a business that is entirely owned and operated by the employees. Each worker-owner has an equal ownership share in the company. Profits generated by the business are then distributed to worker-owners in proportion to their annual labor contribution.

What is a holding company?

A holding company is a business that is primarily engaged in the ownership and operation of other companies. The holding company is the umbrella corporate structure that owns the underlying portfolio of businesses and in some models helps to improve each of them thus increasing the profitability of the whole group.

Okay smart guy: then what is a cooperative holding company?

In a traditional holding company there are outside shareholders or owners that benefit from the profits generated by the portfolio of businesses. In this cooperative holding company model, the workers of the businesses actually own and govern the entire portfolio, benefiting directly from the profits they generate through their labor.

How do I become a worker-owner?

Everyone that is hired for a role at one of the companies owned by Spokane Workers Cooperative will become a fully vested owner after 90 days of employment. Becoming an owner means that a worker is eligible to run for election on the board of directors where the biggest decisions are made, and they will receive profit sharing proportionate to the hours they work in each profitable year.

How does SWC grow?

One way in which Spokane Workers Cooperative grows is through the acquisition of small businesses in the community. SWC helps small business owners that are looking to retire or exit their business receive compensation for what they have built while keeping that business alive and providing an ownership opportunity for their employees.

SWC also grows by incubating businesses from within the portfolio when an opportunity meets a passionate worker-owner-entrepreneur.

How do I become an investor?

We are organized as a Limited Cooperative Association in Washington State which allows us to also accept external investment and create a class of owners separate from the Workers (Investor-Owners). Investor-Owners can also run for election on the board of directors, however as a class they only make up ⅓ of the board members. This structure makes investor ownership available to a wide range of folks while keeping workers at the helm. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Joel Williamson.

I’m ready to retire. How can I sell my business to my employees?

We are here to help! Get in touch with our team to see what is possible and how SWC can help you transfer the ownership of your business to your employees.

Contact

Contact us to learn more about investing, joining, or anything else. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Copyright ©2021 Spokane Workers Cooperative