A number of Workers' Co-ops exist which buy bulk items for their members, thus making them available more cheaply than normal retailers. Any profits are returned to the members periodically. They also function as insurance mutual societies, providing assistance to ill members and their families or those affected by disaster or layoffs, paying for funerals and providing benefits to the widows and orphans of members.
Because individual co-ops are often owned by people who work together, exposing them to risk if the factory goes under and everyone looks for benefits at once, they have banded together to form the Workers' Co-op Association. The Association will redistribute funds from other co-ops if one of them is stricken in such a way.
This is all wonderful, but control of the Association means control of considerable funds, and since the reign of Realmgold Glorious (who more or less drove them into the arms of the resistance to his rule) there is a persistent link to, money laundering and intimidation of inconvenient parties. The leaders of the Association tend to be large, scary men who have gained their positions through fear. Anyone found embezzling funds is, of course, kicked out and brought to the Realmgold's justice, but there have been killings to prevent this kind of revelation happening in the past and probably will be again.
Truculent Roper is, at one time, in charge, and is later succeeded by his son Rock.
The Workers' Co-op Association is also a force in the world of airhorse racing (where it sponsors the blue-and-copper team), and, as at the initiation of the Assembly, in politics.