Volume 10 Issue 5
CWCF August 2018
CWCF/CoopZone 2018 Conference: 
Co-operation in the Changing World of Work

November 1 to 3, 2018, Winnipeg

The world of work is changing, which could provide opportunities for the Worker Co-op movement. Noting changes such as increasing income inequality, automation and climate change, this year's conference seeks to explore the role of co-operatives in providing work in the context of these extreme forms of disruption.
We are thrilled that Rob Wesseling, President and CEO of The Co-operators, and Molly McCracken, Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Manitoba, are joining us as our keynote speakers.  (Please note that ICA's Bruno Roelants is not able to participate due to a scheduling issue.) 

The conference begins November 1st with two parallel all-day Intensive Sessions:
  • Financial Management of a Worker Co-op , led by Russ Christianson
  • Co-op Developer Intensive , hosted and organized by the Board of CoopZone.
Both Intensives will feature a presentation by the Co-operators.

Other events you won't want to miss include:
  • Two forums:
    • A session on CWCF's new Strategic Plan: to Strengthen & Grow the Worker Co-op Movement.
    • The New Realities of Management: Hear from a facilitated panel and then discuss topics such as co-ops' organizational structure, performance feedback, and remote working.
  • Two evening opportunities to socialize:
    • Solidarity Happy Hour, and
    • Mix and Mingle Networking Party, hosted by Winnipeg worker co-ops.
  • Your choice of workshops:
  • And more!
Early bird registration ends September 21, 2018 so don't delay - register now! And stay tuned for more exciting updates on the Conference in coming weeks. 
In This Issue

by Hazel Corcoran

CWCF has been hard at work on both Conference planning and our exciting new strategic planning process. Each of these has a dedicated committee working along with staff and in the case of strategic planning, a consulting team led by Russ Christianson. We are greatly appreciative of the time and great work being contributed by these committee members and consultants.   (See the articles elsewhere in this newsletter.)
Tenacity Works Fund: We have had significant interest in our   Tenacity Works Fund in recent months. This may be in part linked to the recent launch of the Canadian Co-operative Investment Fund (CCIF). Whereas CCIF generally invests amounts over $50,000, Tenacity Works invests amounts lower than this. Early this year, CWCF placed a loan in Africa Slow Food Co-op in Ottawa. This Co-op has gotten rave reviews for its slow-cooked meals from various African and Caribbean cuisines, and it does catering. If you live in or travel to Ottawa, we encourage you to try it out. In addition, we are processing a loan application from another co-op now, and other interest has been expressed.
Worker Co-op Survey: As part of a larger co-op database project, Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada has offered to CWCF to survey all worker and multi-stakeholder co-ops in Canada, for now only those outside Quebec. The focus of the survey is quantitative and demographic information, and we hope that your co-op will complete it.
Board News, and Nominations: Prairies director Tommy Allen has tendered his resignation to our Board, as he has accepted a teaching contract in Shenzhen, China starting in September. We thank Tommy for his many contributions to the CWCF Board and wish him every success in China!  

As a reminder, we have several board positions up for election at the AGM this year including board seats in Quebec, Ontario, Prairies, BC, and one at-large seat: we encourage you to consider running. Those eligible to run are worker-members of CWCF member co-ops and also nominated representatives of regional worker co-op federations. There are regional federations currently in Quebec only. If you would like to know more about serving on the Board of CWCF, contact Director and Nominating Committee member Yuill Herbert at  yuill@ssg.coop, and copy Hazel Corcoran, hazel@canadianworker.coop
CWCF Strategic Plan Update

The purpose of CWCF's important strategic planning exercise is to seek ways to better engage and support the existing worker co-ops across Canada, as well as to scale up the movement more effectively.  We have just wrapped up some very interesting conversations with over 30 key informants. Currently we have a draft matrix of some current and possible strategic directions that are ready for member input. Our lead consultant Russ Christianson will be launching telephone interviews with members over the next month. Due to time and budget constraints, Russ will be interviewing most but not all members.  If you want to provide your input by a telephone interview, please let us know by emailing Kaye.   

We are also using our Loomio platform to gather member input on the same types of questions.   If you would rather comment on this platform, you can also respond to Kaye and be sure to provide the email that you want to have attached to this. Kaye will ensure that you get invited to our Loomio member discussion group.
We are looking forward to your input. The final strategic planning strategy outcome will be shared with members in advance of our Conference, as well as at a Conference session.
Member Engagement for Co-operatives

In this episode of Co-operatives First's The Common Share podcast, Kyle, Dan, and Aasa discuss what member engagement looks like for co-operatives, given how many different types of co-ops - and different types of members - there are. Is membership engagement just about getting messages out to members, or do co-ops need to be actively listening to members as well? What are the best ways to do that?

Listen here

3 Essential Ingredients in Successful Co-operative Start-ups

Dan Matthews, Co-operatives First 

At its most basic,  every co-op needs a champion with a vision, a group with a shared interest and a market for the service or product delivered by the co-op. Creating bylaws, setting up incorporation and understanding feasibility are all extremely important (and some even required) in developing a co-op.

But there are three often overlooked ingredients that can better position a co-operative start-up for success. If you have these ingredients, the rest is gravy. (Okay, truth be told the process is still a lot of work, but it will certainly go a whole lot more smoothly if you have them).


Enhancing Business Performance through Co-operative Management Practices: How to Strengthen Identity, Loyalty and Participation

An interactive professional development opportunity focused on leading thinking in co-operative management coupled with tangible examples of how to translate knowledge into action. We encourage senior managers, CEOs and board members to join us for this 3 - day learning and networking event, 
May 7-9, 2019 in Winnipeg.  Other dates and locations are also available.  

Canadian Co-operative Investment Fund Makes First Investments
The Canadian Co-operative Investment Fund (CCIF) was launched in December 2017. CCIF is the result of years of work among co-operative organizations and financial institutions to develop a source of capital to support the growth of co-operative enterprises in Canada. Access to capital that is designed to meet the particular needs of co-operatives has been identified as one of the primary barriers to the growth of the co-operative enterprise sector.
CCIF is a unique social impact investment fund. It serves the capital needs of the co-operative sector through the provision of loans, quasi-equity and equity for co-operative enterprises across Canada.
Launched in early 2018, the Fund has approved its initial investments of over $1 million in four enterprises and generated an inventory of potential investments of over $6 million.  Read more about these investments here.  
CWCF has long been a proponent of CCIF, and is one of 16 investors in this important new Fund.  Worker co-ops are eligible to apply to CCIF.  Visit its website to learn more.
West End Food Co-op Has Closed its Store 

West End Food Co-op
After eight years of providing local produce, workshops, and employment opportunities to vulnerable households and marginalized community members, the non-profit grocery store West End Food Co-op closed on July 31 due to financial reasons. However, the Toronto Star notes "t
he store's closure isn't so much a failure, but an adjustment to the realities of running a non-profit in a gentrifying neighbourhood while also addressing the needs of locals".  

However, the Co-op continues to run the Sorauren Farmers' Market each Monday. 


What has caused the number of US worker co-ops to nearly double?

Rebecca Harvey, Co-op News

Ten years ago, there were around 350 worker co-ops in the USA. Now there are nearly 600, largely thanks to a perfect storm of economic and social change. This has been witnessed by the  United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC), the national grassroots membership organisation for worker co-ops, whose mission is to 'build a thriving co-operative movement of stable, empowering jobs through worker-ownership'.

Executive director of the organization is Esteban Kelly, who came to co-ops through student housing co-operatives in Berkeley, California, before organizing co-ops across Canada and the US with the  North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO). He has since served on numerous boards including the USFWC, the  US Solidarity Economy Network, the  National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA-CLUSA) and the  Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF), and is a   co-founder of the cross-sector Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (PACA).

How Do We Market the Co-operative Difference?

Anca Voinea, Co-op News

Co-operatives are a unique form of business, each with a different story. So what's the best way to tell these stories? Nine co-op communication specialists give their tips.

Expanding Economic Opportunity by Growing Worker Cooperatives

Karen Kahn, Nonprofit Quarterly

The worker cooperative-a democratic form of business ownership-has struggled to take hold and  grow to scale  in the US. Though the US economy has a large cooperative sector, most of these co-ops are consumer co-ops. Credit unions and electric co-ops are the two largest sectors, with well over 100 million member-owners between them. Indeed, credit unions alone now have  115.3 million member-owners . The worker cooperative sector, by contrast, is much more modest in scale. According to a  November 2017 report  (based on 2015 data) from the nonprofit  Democracy at Work Institute , in the US an estimated 323 worker-cooperatives have 6,033 worker-owners and combined revenues of $395 million.

But worker cooperatives are growing, and so is the  ecosystem supporting them. In recent months, two well-established cooperatives, the  Evergreen Cooperative Laundry in Cleveland and  Red Emma's in Baltimore, have announced plans for expansion.


Capitalism Is The Reason Your Employer Is Screwing You Over

Richard D. Wolff, HuffPost US

Few businesses show the skewed dynamics between employer and employees as clearly as Amazon.
 Its CEO Jeff Bezos is the world's richest person, with his wealth estimated at around $130 billion. He admits the near impossibility of spending these riches and commits $1 billion a year of his "Amazon winnings" to fund a personal project of space travel. 

Back on Earth, Amazon's 560,000 employees  earn a median salary of $28,000 , its warehouse workers face strict efficiency targets that lead some  to relieve themselves in trash cans , and hundreds of Ohio, Arizona and Pennsylvania-based workers are  on food stamps .  

To understand why the relationship between employer and employee is so severely screwed, we have to look to capitalism.

Capitalist businesses are starkly undemocratic. Employers are economic dictators. They wield enormous power and control that is unaccountable to the social majority around them: their employees and the communities in which they live.

Worker Cooperatives Are Finding Investors Who Share Their Values

Oscar Perry Abello, Next City

You  may know  Equal Exchange  by the food company's signature bright red logo on its coffee, tea, or chocolate bars. You may know they sell only certified fair-trade products, ensuring just compensation paid to farmers and their workers in countries all over the world. You may even know the company currently earns around $70 million a year in revenues, and has around 150 employees. But did you also know the company is a worker cooperative?

UK Co-operative Party releases report outlining plans to double the size of co-op sector

Aaron Fernando, Shareable

On July 3, the Co-operative Party in the U.K.  launched a report at parliament outlining a strategy to double the size of the U.K.'s cooperative sector by 2030. The report, written by the think tank  New Economics Foundation (NEF), was commissioned by the Co-operative Party and comprises a vision of the party's goals. The report, titled "Co-Operatives Unleashed" reviews the current state of the co-op sector in the U.K., features case studies from other European nations, provides a snapshot of existing hurdles for the co-op sector, and offers policy recommendations for advancing this sector.

The report outlines the economic benefits of economies with healthy co-operative sectors. It  cites statistics showing that co-ops have a 25 percent higher chance of surviving their first three years of operation than conventional businesses. They also have lower staff turnover and lower pay inequality. The report notes that "the five largest co-operatives paid 50 percent more corporate tax than Amazon, Facebook, Apple, eBay and Starbucks combined." In 2017, the U.K. had approximately 6,000 co-ops with 13.6 million members - lagging well behind most other OECD countries, according to the report. Meanwhile, workers in the U.K. have seen wages stagnate for 150 years and any economic growth has mainly benefitted a very small portion of the population, the report notes.

Read 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.
Please send any comments and suggestions to: 
Kaye Grant 
Editor of CWCF Newsletter 
(204) 257-1198