In 2015, Central Co-op became a Solidarity Co-op! But what does that mean?
In the solidarity co-op structure, ownership is shared between customers and workers. According to the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, the ownership of Central Co-op is shared 50/50 between customers and workers. This is reflected each election cycle for the Board of Directors, where each owner (whether they are a customer or worker) will vote for one seat held by a customer and one seat held by a worker.
Shared Surplus Distribution
When your co-op distributes positive net income, that positive net income is shared equally with customer and worker owners. The Board of Trustees will declare a surplus distribution if it makes positive net income (called profit in for-profit organizations), and 50% of the total distribution would be allocated to customers based on patronage (how much they shop) and 50% to the workers based on hours worked. The Co-op will distribute 20% of these distributions to owners as cash, and retain 80% for a period of time before being cycled out to those owners. This enables the co-op to invest in more projects in the community while still returning positive net income to owners!
The Board of Trustees which leads the Co-op includes 3 elected customer owners, 3 elected worker owners, two appointed trustees, and the Cooperator in Chief (formerly General Manager). This insures that there is always a majority of elected owners of the Board. Each election there will be 1 customer-owner and 1 worker-owner seat up for election, and the whole co-op ownership (customers plus workers) vote on all seats.
A customer share costs $100, and a worker share costs $20 per paycheck for 12 years. Both are voluntary and completely refundable upon ending one’s membership. While you are an owner, you can vote for the Board of Trustees that leads the Co-op, receive Surplus Distributions, and receive many member benefits such as savings events, weekly owner coupons, and more!
Solidarity co-ops are an exciting, new industry-leading ownership model. We believe that by including both workers and customers in ownership, we will be able to make smarter decisions and be more connected to our community.