Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation

 La F�d�ration canadienne des coop�ratives de travail

December 2011
Vol 2, Issue  10                                                                          

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Executive Director's Report - December 2011 - CWCF Update

CICOPA Cancun(Traduction FRAN) Greetings, members and friends of CWCF. It's always a great experience, not to mention inspiring and humbling, to meet worker co-operators from around the world. In November, a couple of us had this opportunity, because CWCF was able to send two representatives to the meetings of CICOPA, the international organization of worker co-operatives, in Cancun, Mexico. It was only the second time I was able to attend a meeting of CICOPA, the first being 12 years ago in Quebec City. Those in attendance for CWCF were board President, Alain Bridault and myself. During the General Assembly of CICOPA (World), we thanked the outgoing President, Javier Salaberria of Mondragon, who was President for 6 years. The General Assembly also elected the new President, Ma�uel Mariscal and several directors, including Alain Bridault and CICOPA-North America President, Rebecca Kemble. More

Manuel Mariscal nouveau Pr�sident �lu de CICOPA

(English Translation) Manuel Mariscal, de la Conf�d�ration espagnole des Coop�ratives de Travail Associ� (COCETA), a �t� �lu en novembre le Pr�sident de CICOPA � l'occasion de l'assembl�e g�n�rale qui s'est tenue � Canc�n (Mexique). Le nouveau pr�sident a soulign� dans son discours la grande importance que rev�t l'emploi devenu une denr�e rare de nos jours, "Il est d�s lors prioritaire que les coop�ratives de travail associ� montrent au monde leur mani�re d'exercer leurs activit�s, avec des m�thodes d�mocratiques qui g�n�rent la coh�sion territoriale et sociale". Manuel Mariscal a aussi pr�cis� "qu'il s'attend � recevoir l'aide de toutes les organisations de CICOPA, les petites aussi bien que les grandes". Plus

Camino Receives Award For Excellence In Corporate Sustainability

La Siembra's Jennifer Williams accepted the award at the inaugural Green Living Awards Ceremony in Toronto on October 26th 2011. The Excellence in Corporate Responsibility Awards program honours and celebrates corporate Canadians for outstanding work and dedication in creating sustainable and ethical practices within business. La Siembra won the award as a result of their innovation, socially-conscious business framework, and ability to achieve first mover status for their fair trade and organic products in the Canadian marketplace, particularly for their Camino line of cocoa and sugar based products, and more recently for their line of Camino fruit juices, which was launched just this spring. Congrats! More
Co-ops Popular With Those Who Want A Stake In Where They Work Or Shop 

By Joel Schlesinger (Winnipeg Free Press) - Stephen Kirk has never liked the idea of slaving away for 'the man' for a living. Instead, the 38-year-old goes to work at a local co-operative where he and five other members are both simultaneously bosses and workers. As a member of Organic Planet Worker Co-op in Wolseley, Kirk and the other members share in the profits of the neighbourhood grocery and deli that sells organic products. "You don't have anyone telling you what to do," he says. "You're your own boss, and that means a lot to some people." As a matter of fact, co-operatives have meant a lot to a heck of a lot of people for a very long time. More

Shift Urban Cargo Delivery Becomes A Member Of CWCF!

ShiftShift worker co-operative is a new cycle-based distribution service in downtown Vancouver. They are replacing conventional delivery trucks by transporting loads of up to 600 lbs using their zero-emissions, heavy-duty cargo trikes. They can haul a diverse range of products including coffee, catering, office supplies, clothing, moving supplies, beverages, produce, and many other goods. Recently, Shift was featured in the Seattle Times newpaper. In the few months since the tricycle business has gotten started

they've received calls from others around Canada and the United States who want to start similar businesses in their own cities. The enthusiasm has motivated these entrepreneurs to start thinking about their next step. "We're looking into the possibility of developing our own line of trikes." More

Forum international de l'�conomie sociale et solidaire (FIESS, Montr�al)


(English Translation) Plus de 1 300 personnes provenant de quelques 65 pays ont particip�s au Forum international de l'�conomie sociale et solidaire (le FIESS), tenu pendant la semaine du 17 octobre et organis� par le Chantier de l'�conomie sociale du Qu�bec. � l'occasion du Forum, pendant l'atelier anim� par le R�SEAU, "La coop�rative comme formule pour la relance d'entreprise et la sauvegarde des emplois", Alain Bridault, FCCT pr�sident, a �t� invit� � pr�senter ses r�flexions et les outils d�velopp�s. Cet atelier visait ainsi le pont avec le Congr�s sur la transmission d'entreprises aux employ�s qui avait eu lieu � Qu�bec la semaine pr�c�dente (vid�o ici: cliquez sur la minute 18:00 pour l'introduction d'Alain). Nous remercions le R�SEAU, pour cet article, qui a paru dans leur bulletin de novembre 2011, et que nous avons modifi� un peu. Merci!

Spin Cycles for Social Change - Montreal's Jobra Solidarity Co-operative 

By Joanne Penhale (The Dominion) - A dryer whirs, and a young mother folds her family's laundry. Another woman enters with two school-aged kids, who stand by as she loads the washing machine. Anyone passing by might assume it's just a clean, bright laundromat in a poor Montreal neighbourhood. But for Mohammad Hassan, it's bursting with potential for social change. The Jobra Solidarity Co-operative is a laundromat with an anti-poverty mission in the north end of Park Extension, an enclaved Montreal neighbourhood of 1.6 square kilometres with 33,000 residents, mainly immigrants. Hassan first came to Park Extension as a refugee from Bangladesh. "When I came to Canada, I had big hopes and dreams." More

West End Food Multi-Stakeholder Co-op Putting Food On Parkdale plates

By Omar Mosleh (My Town Crier) - It's not enough for the West End Food Co-operative to help residents put food on their tables. It wants to help put food in their cupboards, pantries and basements, too. The Toronto community of Parkdale-based organization aims to encourage local food sustainability, especially among immigrants, the disabled and those struggling financially through programs like its canning workshops. "The primary goal is to bring locally produced food into the city environment, where it's available for urban consumers, in a way that best serves the interests of both the consumers and their local farmers and producers," said the West End Food Co-op's workshop facilitator, James Partanen. More 

The Warm Heart Of Africa: A Story Of Just Us!

By Austin Anderson (Just Us!) -  Jeff Moore and I have been travelling in Malawi, in southeastern Africa. Malawians have an amazing spirit filled with laughter, song and community. In our short visit here, we witnessed extremes, chaos and beauty. We started in Lilongwe, the capital city. There we saw relative prosperity among the upper class with new houses, gated communities and servants. This was a guise that didn't represent the reality of the almost 16 million, mostly rural people in the tiny country. The economy faces huge challenges, as its currency is devalued, especially with securing imports. As we attempted to leave the city, we had to scramble to find gas for the car, as all the stations were out of fuel. More

Constructive Response To 9/11: Survivors Create Worker-owned Restaurants

Seventy-three restaurant workers, mostly immigrants, lost their lives on 9/11. During that time many restaurants were closed during the clean-up and reconstruction. Workers wanted to create a restaurant in memory of those who died on 9/11, in addition to creating jobs for themselves. Many in the restaurant industry are poorly paid. Racism is rife in the industry. There are huge wage disparities along gender and colour lines. For every dollar a white male earns, a coloured woman earns almost half that. Creating a worker-owned restaurant was important to treat workers properly and to support local and healthy food. Check out this video to see their story.

More Low-Wage Workers Become Their Own Bosses In New York City

By Carla Murphy (Gotham Gazette) - In 2006, Teresa Perez and 14 other immigrant women began meeting at the Center for Family Life in Sunset Park to launch an employee-owned housecleaning business. Together, they called it Si­ Se Puede. The name was a nod to immigration reform protests then popping up across the country but in Brooklyn, it doubled as a sales pitch to flush homeowners in neighboring Park Slope: We Can Do It! Within four years, S� Se Puede's worker-owners, many of whom did not speak fluent English, tripled their wages to as much as $25-an-hour. Last year's open house to recruit new members drew over 90 applications for 13 spots. The company has 37 worker-owners with sales of $1.6 million. More

Are Worker Co-ops A Viable Rural Alternative? - Iowa State Working Paper

Economics Department - The majority of worker co-ops identified in this research are located in urban areas. Yet the nature of worker co-ops, typically small numbers of employees and requiring relatively low capital investment, may make them a good fit for a variety of rural businesses. Foremost, co-operative developers and other practitioners stress that a commitment to the co-operative ideology is a necessary ingredient for successful worker co-ops. Given the strong tradition of agricultural and consumer co-operatives in rural America, worker co-ops would seem to be a logical extension of this proven business model in rural areas. More

Green Worker Cooperatives' Omar Freilla Quoted In Naomi Klein Article

Omar Freilla

By Naomi Klein (The Nation) - As Occupiers ask themselves what kind of economy should be built to displace the one crashing all around us, many are finding inspiration in the network of green economic alternatives. Not only do these economic models create jobs and revive communities while reducing emissions; they do so in a way that systematically disperses power- the antithesis of an economy by and for the 1%. Omar Freilla, one of the founders of Green Worker Cooperatives in the South Bronx, told me that the experience in direct democracy that thousands are having in plazas and parks has been, for many, "like flexing a muscle you didn't know you had." And, Freilla says, now they want more democracy- not just at a meeting but also in their community planning and in their workplaces. More

It's Time For The People To Occupy Co-operatives By John Restakis

John Restakis

On the one hand we have an Occupy movement that is young, anarchic, angry, energized, individualistic, inclusive, irreverent, and deeply suspicious of leadership. The co-op movement seems like the polar opposite. It is mostly middle-aged, highly structured, very white, cautious, and polite to the point of painfulness. The co-op movement represents an economic and social model that actually embodies the values that the Occupy movement cares so deeply about. The language of Occupy captures the moral outrage that lies at the heart of the movement. It is an outrage that the co-op movement needs to recognize, and to respond to, in its own right. Not to do so is to signal that the co-op movement is no longer relevant, or even worse, indifferent to the issues raised so powerfully by Occupy. More 

Bank Transfer Day A Phenomenal Success For Credit Unions

The Credit Union National Association Credit (CUNA) has announced that credit unions brought in 40,000 in new members, and added $80 million in new savings account funds, on November 5, 2011, Bank Transfer Day, capping a month that resulted in nearly 700,000 new credit union members joining the movement. The build up to Bank Transfer Day saw around 650,000 people join credit unions in the last month, adding $4.5 billion in new savings into credit union coffers. Bank Transfer Day encouraged people to transfer their money from corporate-level for-profit banking institutions to not-for-profit credit unions that invest in local communities. More

The Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation (CWCF) is a national, bilingual grassroots membership organization of and for worker co-operatives, related types of co-operatives (multi-stakeholder co-ops and worker-shareholder co-ops), and organizations that support the growth and development of worker cooperatives.  CWCF's e-newsletter is available free of charge to anyone with an e-mail address and an interest in worker co-operative developments in Canada.
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David Wilson
Editor of CWCF Newsletter