Worker Co-ops That Work

Worker Co-Ops provide an avenue for workers to reclaim their dignity, nurture their entrepreneurial spirit, and build stronger communities.—Larry Sharpe

Larry believes in supporting both the worker and the community.  Using existing resources and state obligations, we can provide funding options for qualified new Worker Co-Ops that allow workers to pool seed money together with 5 or more individuals. These funding options would be offered by streamlining payments to individuals like unemployment claims, structured settlements, or other approved claims of state payments by making an upfront payment an option rather than the traditional payments over time. By agreeing to use any money the state owes you to fund a new Co-Op, this one-time payment would be treated as a non-taxable grant.

How would this work? If someone loses a job due to a business closure and is eligible for unemployment benefits, once a qualified business plan is provided, New York will make an upfront payment of the entire 26-week eligibility claim -for the purpose of providing start-up money for a worker Co-Op with at least 4 other individuals. Any payments received by the worker for their claim, prior to engaging in this program would be deducted from the eligible upfront payment.

Worker Co-Ops can be established in any sector, including, but not limited to:

  • Services- housecleaning, day labor, restaurants, taxis, childcare
  • Retail – grocery stores, bakeries, bookstores, bike shops
  • Health Care – nursing, home health care, clinics, bodywork
  • Skilled Trades – printing, plumbing, woodworking, contracting
  • Professional and Administrative -including business and marketing services of all kinds
  • Manufacturing and engineering – machine parts, fabricating
  • Technology – web hosting, networking, voice and data systems
  • Education – charter schools, teacher/student/parent-run schools
  • Media and the Arts – artisans, galleries, performers, publishers

A Worker Co-Op presenting a qualified business plan can apply and receive a NYS-backed loan, issued by a community bank or credit union, for any amount up to the total advanced payments the collective group would be receiving from their state claim. The loan program can only be offered through small community banks and credit unions, and must be located in the same county as the Co-Op. This is an important aspect of this program to keep local, local, and to foster community engagement.

Through this new Worker Co-Op initiative, we can build up our communities and enrich the lives of New Yorkers -all by using the resources and state obligations that already exist.