Banding Together: Cutting-edge architectural salvage company Greensaw has taken the bold step of becoming an employee-owned co-op. Will the risky move pay off?

Can one imagine an economy in which labor hires capital? Where workers have a legal right to the profits and legal responsibility for the liabilities because they are the owners, where workers jointly manage the firm and themselves in a democratic fashion?

—William Greider, national correspondent for The Nation, in his introduction to The Real World of Employee Ownership

On a blustering snowy weekend in late January, a group of men and women gathered in front of a bedsheet and projector in a timber-framed cabin in Eagles Mere, Pa., to discuss how to become a cooperatively owned business. In between breaks for venison stew, toboggan sledding and heating snow for water, those in attendance heard impassioned speeches about governance and power. Debates over fairness, dignity, and responsibility flared and simmered. A sample policy and procedures manual was presented and picked apart as each person was asked to truly consider Greider’s question.

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