Good question. According to the United States Small Business Administration (SBA), a co-op is "a business or organization owned by and operated for the benefit of those using its services." Now doesn't that sound like what a business ought to be anyway?
It is so ingrained into our minds, especially as Americans, that businesses can only be operated in a way that disproportionately benefits its CEOs, owners, and others at the top tier of the corporate pyramid. Examples of mass worker exploitation are all around us, so much so that it has become the norm. However, while there are always those who challenge this ethic, it is less common to see efforts that are successful in building and operating an alternative.
A cooperative business is just that. Rather than accumulating wealth at the top, co-ops spread the wealth: Profits and earnings generated by the cooperative are distributed among the members, also known as "user-owners." They are a living testament to the potential of shifting the ethic of business from selfishness to cooperation.