Our Co-op Professionals Track explores how accounting and legal professionals serving the co-op community can create an enabling environment for cooperative economic impact.

From raising capital to paying taxes, and from the immigration status of employees or members to “volunteer” member labor in the cooperative business, all cooperatives face a range of federal regulations. Co-ops look to accounting and legal practitioners for strategies to ensure compliance and resilience. Regulations may be designed to help businesses and protect individuals, but co-op professionals often find that they can hinder cooperative impact. 

This track is included in base registration.



Chair: Sarah Kaplan

During this workshop, lawyers who work on bringing capital into cooperatives will share reports and learnings from their recent work.  To make sure this session qualifies for CLE credit, the topics of securities law and other legal issues will also be addressed. 

Democratic ESOPs and Perpetual Trusts: Non-co-op vehicles for engaged worker ownership

Chair: Sushil C. Jacob, Tuttle Law Group

Advocates for worker ownership generally promote worker cooperatives as the best form of worker democratic self-management due to one-member, one-vote governance requirements and profit-sharing on the basis of labor contribution. However, worker cooperatives are not the best solution for all enterprises. This panel explores two non-co-op vehicles for promoting engaged worker ownership: the democratic ESOP, which features democratic voting by ESOP participants; and the perpetual trust, which can feature both democratic voting and profit-sharing based on labor contribution.

Bring broadband to rural America: The role of electric cooperatives

Chair: Ronald Hall

This session provides an overview and several case studies of how electric cooperatives can serve as the catalyst for the provision of broadband services in rural communities.  Whether by offering broadband services directly or by participating in telecommunications cooperatives, electric co-ops can assist their rural communities in retaining businesses, increasing educational opportunities and serving as economic development centers.

Visualizing a uniform co-op law

Chair: Thomas Beckett

The statutory landscape for cooperatives is a patchwork quilt. Some states have “good” or “modern” cooperative corporation laws, while other states have antiquated code or none at all. During this session, cooperative professionals will work together to outline an ideal general cooperative statute. This session will be less influential than the Uniform Laws Commission but more fun.

Union cooperatives: Union Co-op Council celebrates 10 years in 2018

Chair: Kristen Barker, E.D., Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative and U.S. Federation of Worker Co-ops 

This session features an analysis and historical overview of the legal, structural and financial relationships between labor unions and sponsored worker co-ops.

Co-op tax developments

Chair: Ronald Hall
Speakers: Bruce Mayer, Don Frederick and David Cook

Because of the interest in the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 on cooperatives, this session will focus on how the new tax changes affect cooperatives and address strategies for maximizing the benefits some changes provide.  This session will also provide an introduction to the tax and accounting rules affecting cooperatives for those new to the subject. 

There’s a lot places you can learn 101 level things. You come here and you can get those 201 level, 301 level answers where the people who are involved in the nitty gritty can really get in to the deep questions of what’s going on, what’s allowable. That sort of information and the chance to ask questions and listen to what’s being said – that’s invaluable.
— Jamie Samans, Executive Member, Xensha