For its size, Berkeley boasts one of the largest numbers of worker-owned businesses in the state, likely due to its long progressive history. Co-ops in particular have established a foothold here — Berkeley has more per capita than any other city in the state — and they have been supported in recent years under a city-funded program that helps existing companies transition to worker-ownership as their owners retire.
What makes Berkeley a hotbed of worker co-ops?
With its roots in 1970s counterculture, Berkeley has more worker co-ops per capita than any other city in the state.
Although co-ops are the most prolific type of so-called “broad-based employee ownership” in Berkeley, they are not the only type. Such businesses also include Employee Stock Ownership Plans and Employee Ownership Trusts.
This list of Berkeley’s worker-owned businesses was created with the help of the city of Berkeley and several advocacy organizations, Project Equity, Certified Employee-Owned and Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives. Berkeleyside combined and verified lists provided by these organizations — fact-checking directly with the businesses or their websites and removing those that are no longer in existence or were founded in Berkeley but have since moved or transitioned into another type of organization.
The resulting list is as current as possible, but new additions are expected as companies on the cusp of transition — like Urban Ore — join what has become a growing movement here.
Cooperatives are businesses that are owned and democratically governed by the people who work there. Co-ops can take many forms, but are typically organized as cooperative corporations or Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs).
Adams & Chittenden, a maker of scientific glass and glass products, 2741 Eighth St., 510-843-5277. Year it became a co-op: 2019.
Alternative Technologies, IT services, installation and tech support for nonprofits, 1050 Heinz Ave., 510-848-4411. Year it became a co-op: 2022.
The Cheese Board Collective, the trailblazing bakery, pizzeria and cheese shop that has trained a generation of bakers and spurred other bakery co-ops, 1512 Shattuck Ave., 510-549-3183. Year it became a co-op: 1971.
Biofuel Oasis, urban farm store and biodiesel station, 1441 Ashby Ave., 510-665-5509. Year it became a co-op: 2003.
Cooperative Digital, communications and cybersecurity, 1442 Walnut St., 510-843-2667.
Heartwood Cooperative, woodworking shop, 2547 Eighth St., 510-845-4887. Year it became a co-op: 1974.
Missing Link Bicycle Cooperative, bicycle sales and repairs, 1988 Shattuck Ave., 510-843-7471. Year it became a co-op: 1971.
Oceanview Diner, formerly Bette’s Oceanview Diner, a Limited Liability Corporation with an operating agreement that designates all employees as shareholders, 1807 Fourth St., 510-644-3230. Year it became worker owned: 2022.
The Local Butcher Shop, 1600 Shattuck Ave., 510-845-6328. Year it became a co-op: 2021.
Three Stone Hearth, a grocer and maker of sustainable, nutrient dense organic and seasonal local foods, 1581 University Ave., 510-981-1334. Year it became a co-op: 2006.
Uxo Architects, possibly the first and only worker-owned cooperative architecture practice based in Berkeley and Los Angeles that is also 100% women-owned. Year it became a co-op: 2018.
Westbrae Nursery, indoor and outdoor plants and landscaping materials, 1272 Gilman St., 510-526-5517. Year it became a co-op: 2022.
Wild Swans Publishing Cooperative, children’s book publisher, 1569 Solano Ave. 510-883-9820. Year it became a co-op: 2019.
In producer co-ops, members are the producers of the goods or services the co-op sells. Like other co-ops, they use a democratic decision-making process.
Arts and Crafts Cooperative (ACCI) Gallery, a worker-owned arts and crafts cooperative that began on the second floor of the legendary Berkeley food co-op, 1652 Shattuck Ave., 510-843-2527. Year it became a co-op: 1959.
Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)
Employee Stock Ownership Plans give workers ownership interest in the company in the form of stock shares, which they can cash out when they retire. Because ESOPs are a type of retirement plan, they are overseen by the Department of Labor.
ATA Engineering, a San Diego-based national engineering consultancy that opened a Berkeley office in 2018, 2030 Addison St., Unit 310, 858-480-2000. Year it became an ESOP: 2004.
Mal Warwick Donordigital, fundraising, advocacy and marketing for nonprofits, 2550 Ninth St., 510-843-8888. Year it became an ESOP: 2001.
McCutcheon Construction, certified green builder, 1280 Sixth St., 510-558-8030. Year it became an ESOP: 2016.
The Natural Grocery Company, a purveyor of organic, local and non-G.M.O. foods that dates to the early 1970s, 1336 Gilman St., 510-526-2456, (prepared food annex at 10387 San Pablo Ave.). Year it became an ESOP: 2002.
Stillwater Sciences, a science and engineering consulting company that focuses on river management, 2855 Telegraph Ave. # 400, 510-848-8098. Year it became an ESOP: 2017.
Sun Light & Power, a co-op/ESOP hybrid that provides solar power installation, 1035 Folger Ave., 510-851-9028. Year it became an ESOP: 2018.
Zachary’s Chicago Pizza, 1853 Solano Ave. (and other Bay Area locations), 510-525-5950. Year it became an ESOP: 2003.
Employee Ownership Trusts (EOTs)
In an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT), the owner creates a trust that is set up in whole or in part on behalf of workers. The trust may also have a social or environmental mandate.
Paras & Associates, 1569 Solano Ave., #294, 510-658-3793. Year it became an EOT: 2019.