Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation

 La Fédération canadienne des coopératives de travail

2016 Newsletter
Vol 8, Issue 1



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Month Year Vol 1, Issue 1
 CWCF News
CWCF's upcoming Conference/AGM
Save the date!  The 2016 Conference will be our 25th anniversary celebration.  This year it will be held in Vancouver on November 3-5, 2016, with Kathy Bardswick, CEO of The Co-operators, as our keynote speaker. 

  Welcome new CWCF member:
  Alif Partners Co-operative, a creative management consultancy located in Edmonton. See:
"For the past 20 years, we have collectively worked on some of the best and biggest brands in the world, as well as emerging organizations that are slated for greatness. Our associates and partners have global expertise and have worked in Africa, Asia and the Middle East."
In This Issue
4 Questions Answered, by Hazel Corcoran
Member Market Place:
Together We're Bitter launches in KW
Help Create a Co-operative Game for the 99%!
CYL: A Leadership Opportunity for Teens...This summer teenagers will emerge as leaders!
Fundamentals of Co-operative Organizations, Certificate Program.
The Co-op Model - Shared Ownership and Social Innovation.
Saskatchewan Co-operatives Embrace Diversity /...Les coopératives misent sur la diversité
University of Saskatchewan Study of Cooperatives Survey
FCL Launches Co-operatives First /...FCL lance Co-operatives First
Co-operators commits to helping refugees
Co-op Funeralcare reduces costs by 7%
Let cheese be your collateral!
Unions and Co-operatives in Cincinnati discuss working together
Unions and Cooperatives: How Workers Can Survive and Thrive
Filipina trafficking survivors launch co-op
The sharing economy is the problem
Home cleaning coops revolutionise with new mobile app
Upcoming Events
Co-operatives and Mutuals Daily Newsletter Sign-up
4 Questions Answered, by Hazel Corcoran    
The following was written recently by author Penney Kome after an interview with our Executive Director, for a social justice group in Calgary with which Hazel is loosely affiliated.

Hazel Corcoran, LLB, is
Executive Director, Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation ("CWCF"), a national, bilingual grassroots membership organization of worker-owned co-operatives. Globally, the world's largest 300 co-operatives have a combined turnover of USD 2.2 trillion, the equivalent of the 7th largest national economy, and well over 1 billion members. 250 million people are employed or earn their living thanks to a co-operative. The worker co-op movement is fast-growing internationally, but tiny in Canada. Two-thirds of the 350 Canadian worker co-ops are in Quebec. Fortunately, Louisiana-born Hazel speaks French fluently.
1. What is the most interesting challenge in your work?
Our biggest challenge is: a huge mandate but tiny resources, including a staff of 3-4 FTE (full-time equivalent) employees, depending on the time of year, to cover the country. The mandate is especially huge at times such as now, when the conventional economy is failing many people. Everybody loses when businesses fail. Often, workers could keep the business going by buying it together and turning it into a worker-owned co-op. But they have to know of the option, and they have to know how. That's where our partner CoopZone comes in, a network of business development consultants and organizations for all kinds of co-operatives including consumer co-ops, health care co-ops, credit unions, farmers' co-ops, etc.
2. What is your approach to resolving this challenge?
Creativity and tenacity. CWCF celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, 25 years of helping working people to have an ownership stake in the economy and meet their own economic needs. We are much stronger than when I started working for CWCF in 1993. We also take inspiration from, and share lessons learned with, our colleagues with much larger worker co-op movements, in France, (Mondragon) Spain, Argentina, Brazil, China, Japan, India, etc.- and the increasingly dynamic, high-profile movement in the US.
3. What can one person do?
One person can join a co-operative, help start a co-operative, or become a co-operative developer and assist others to start and run co-ops. You could also invest in one, such as the proposed Grain Exchange Co-op,, which seeks to open within about 6 months. Also, one Canadian (Dr. Ian MacPherson, University of Victoria, 1939-2013) was chosen in 1995 by the International Co-operative Alliance to coordinate the world-wide process to revise the co-operative principles.
4. Why do you keep doing this work?
I agree with my colleague Tim Huet of Oakland, California, who stated, "There Is No More Important Social Change Work You Can Do Than Cooperative Development."

For me, working to develop the co-operative movement, especially worker co-ops, is about fundamentally changing the economy so that people matter more than profit; so that we can create an environment in which people are free to discover the gifts that they bring to this world and have a way to develop them and contribute them to the common good. Co-ops are about building an economy based on hope and love. The potential is absolutely huge. This is why one of the most important expressions of my life is the promotion of (worker) co-operatives.
You can read more about CWCF and CoopZone respectively, at: , and .

Member Market Place:The Grain Exchange 
Alberta's first 100% worker-owned co-operative bakery & pizzeria
As a grassroots initiative, The Grain Exchange is always making advances in getting Alberta's first worker-owned co-operative bakery & pizzeria off the ground.
Coming markets
The Grain Exchange is exploring different market choices leading up to the founding of a permanent location. Your thoughts on this will help us, you can take the survey here! 
Members training
The founding members of The Grain Exchange have been deepening their craft the old school way - exchanging labour for learning in some of Western Canada's finest bakeries.
Creative financing and capitalizing
The community spoke loudly by successfully crowdfunding The Grain Exchange. Now the work of building a considerable capital base, has been underway for the past months. Interested in converting your RRSPs into equity in your local co-op movement? Write us here.
Together We're Bitter launches in Kitchener-Waterloo
After two long two years, the collaborative team behind the brewery Together We're Bitter, is excited to finally be opening near downtown Kitchener. In September, they found a 1,500 sq. ft. building to turn into the brewery - the former Eco Coffee Roaster building at 300 Mill Street. In January, they had all their licenses in place, and chose February 10th to open, to ensure they would have enough beer in the tanks, and to begin their new endeavor with stability.

The brewery is unique in that it is a co-operative, with six member-owners as well as several community supporters who have a stake in the business. According to one of the founders, Callum Canally, setting it up as a co-op was a natural extension of the craft beer industry, which is often very much about collaborating with one another and being connected to the communities where they are based: "We felt that really roots us in the community; it drives us, and it gives us a lot of support to draw on in terms of ideas and links to the community to be more authentically linked to the community." 

So next time you're in the area, stop by and visit the crew at TWB, located at 300 Mill Street in downtown Kitchener...and buy some co-operatively brewed beer!
Read the full CBC news release here
Help Create a Co-operative Game for the 99%!

  A new game is in development...and the best part? YOU can help make it! The group at Toolbox for Social Education - also responsible for creating the board game "Co-opoly" - is seeking input into the creation of their newest game:    RISE, a co-operative board game about movement building and community organizing. They will be taking the current version of the game and collaborating with community organizers, movement builders, activists, educators, organizations (big and small), and storytellers, to make sure it's a fun game and a powerful tool. If you or your organization are interested in participating in this exciting venture,  contact   them today! For information on how to get involved in the game creation and how to submit ideas for content, visit them  ONLINE .
CYL: A Leadership Opportunity for Teens

This summer teenagers will emerge as leaders! How will your community benefit from CYL 2016? Give your young people (ages 14-18) the skills they need to stand out from their peers, and define themselves as co-operative leaders. 

Do you have a youth representative on your Board of Directors? Do your youth organize community events? Do they blog about how awesome it is to be a part of a co-operative? Do they vote at your AGM? If not: WHY NOT?? CYL can change the way your co-op or credit union engages with its youth. Young people can bring new life to your organization! Their energy, curiosity, enthusiasm, and talent are sources of inspiration. Harness the potential of youth leadership in your community. Youth should APPLY NOW to their co-op or credit union for CYL sponsorship. 

On Co-op's CYL participant registration portal will open on March 1, 2016. Visit online or contact 
Adam Malloy   for further information.

Fundamentals of Co-operative Organizations, Certificate Program
The Fundamentals of Co-operative Organizations Program sets a new standard for co-operative leadership and expertise.  In 10 weeks of part-time study, with instruction from Ontario's leading co-operative scholars and executives, you can earn a professional certificate from York University's Schulich School of Business. 
The program provides you with the practical skills you need to solve context-specific problems.  Specifically, you will:
(1) Learn specialized knowledge in areas such as governance, membership development, legislation, financing and co-op development;
(2) Develop critical thinking, management and leadership skills;
(3) Advance your career in the co-operative sector; and
(4) Make strategic connections with mentors, colleagues and allies from across the co-op sector.  

The Co-op Model - Shared Ownership and Social Innovation
The Centre for Social Innovation, Enterprise Toronto and On Co-op are once again offering the popular workshop series: The Co-op Model - Shared Ownership and Social Innovation.
This series will be of interest to those who want to learn how employees, communities and other stakeholders can use the co-op model to launch successful enterprises or transform existing businesses into co-operatives.
The series includes three two-hour sessions, each running 8:30am-10:30am at the Centre for Social Innovation, 215 Spadina, 4th floor.

March 15
Could Shared Ownership be the Right Fit for You?
How Social Innovators Are Using Co-op Enterprises
March 29
Baristas, Clerks & Geeks: Own Your Own Job:
How Employees Can Be Co-op Owners and Help Create a Better World
April 12
Buy Out the Boss: How to Transform an Existing Business into a
Successful and Sustainable Co-op.

Individual workshops are $10 each, or $25 for all three.
Click here for more information.

Saskatchewan Co-operatives Embrace Diversity / Les coopératives misent sur la diversité
 ***Le français suit***

Co-operators from across Saskatchewan gathered to delve into the province's changing population and its impacts on their future. For co-operatives to survive and thrive in the province, they'll need to understand how the face of their membership and boards will change in the years ahead.
En français:
Les coopérateurs de la Saskatchewan se sont rassemblés  pour discuter du nouveau visage démographique de la province et des répercussions que pourrait avoir ce changement. Il est ressorti de ces échanges que les coopératives saskatchewanaises devaient comprendre qui seront leurs membres et leurs administrateurs au cours des prochaines années si elles vent survivre et prospérer.

University of Saskatchewan Study of Cooperatives Survey

In late fall 2015, the Centre [for the Study of Co-operatives, University of Saskatchewan] conducted a survey that canvassed Canada's co-op leaders, including CEOs and managers, board members and academics, on their views about the top issues currently facing co-operative organizations. Our forty-six key informants were remarkably consistent in identifying their most pressing concerns, which we have analysed and organized under themes that include access to capital, governance, member commitment, youth engagement, and public awareness of the co-op model.  Click here for full poster.


FCL Launches Co-operatives First /  FCL lance Co-operatives First 
 ***Le français suit***

Federated Co-operatives Ltd. (FCL) announced a five-year, $5 million dollar commitment from the Co-operative Retailing System (CRS) on January 27 that will provide critical start-up funding for an organization that will facilitate a new wave of co-operative development in Western Canada. Read more here.

En français:
Le 27 janvier dernier, Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) a annoncé que le Co-operative Retailing System (CRS) s'engageait à verser 5 millions de dollars sur cinq ans comme contribution au démarrage de Co-operatives First, une organisation qui devrait favoriser le développement coopératif dans l'Ouest du Canada.
Co-operators commits to helping refugees
 Canadian insurance and investment co-op, the Co-operators, has committed $250,000 in funding to help welcome Syrian refugees to the country.  Read more here.

Co-op Funeralcare reduces costs by 7%
One of Mark Goldblatt's many contributions to the Canadian Co-operative Movement was his work with the The Funeral Co-operative of Ottawa.  This sector, in the UK, has made progress towards sustainability through cost reduction measures.  For more, see here 

Do you have problems with bad credit?  No credit?  No problem!  Let cheese be your collateral!
Fed up with their banks' reluctance to lend, an Italian dairy cooperative has raised 6 million euros by issuing bonds guaranteed by huge wheels of Parmesan cheese.
"We already have some loans but, after a certain point, the banks don't want to give you any more," said Andrea Setti, the financial controller of the 4 Madonne cooperative.
The cooperative, based near Modena in northern Italy, produces the famous cheese from milk supplied by some 40 dairy farmers.  Read more here.

Unions and Co-operatives in Cincinnati discuss working together 
Unions met with worker cooperatives November 13 th  and 14 th  to consider how the two can work together to build an economy balancing profits with wider ownership, higher labour standards, environmental conservation, and community well-being. The Cincinnati Union Cooperative Initiative (CUCI) organized the symposium connecting varied unions with worker co-ops or planned co-ops across the country.  Read more here.

Workers that had to twice occupy their factory form the New Era Windows Cooperative. _Photo_ peoplesworld _ Flickr_

By Brian Van Slyke, Truthout | News Analysis

This co-op factory has survived in an industry where two previous non-democratic ownerships couldn't, and it's only growing. New Era had revenue of $750,000 in 2015, an increase from its first year's revenue of $205,000, and all of that wealth is democratically controlled by the people that created it, going to directly benefit the workers and their families. Read the full article here.


Filipina trafficking survivors launch co-op
By Abig ail Savitch-Lew   

Established in 2002, the grassroots organization, led by Filipino survivors of human trafficking and other low-wage workers, has helped dozens escape abusive conditions, recover stolen wages, and pursue T visas, which allow trafficking survivors to remain in the United States. But many of Damayan's members, once freed from forced labor, found themselves in another troubling, if less shocking situation: Even with better working conditions, they often had little job security and earned a pittance.  Read more here.

The sharing economy is the problem
The premise is seductive in its simplicity: people have skills, and customers want services. Silicon Valley plays matchmaker, churning out apps that pair workers with work. Now, anyone can rent out an apartment with AirBnB, become a cabbie through Uber, or clean houses using Homejoy.

But under the guise of innovation and progress, companies are stripping away worker protections, pushing down wages, and flouting government regulations. At its core, the sharing economy is a scheme to shift risk from companies to workers, discourage labor organizing, and ensure that capitalists can reap huge profits with low fixed costs.  Read more here..

Home cleaning coops revolutionise with new mobile app
In New York, a new mobile app could revolutionise business growth for worker co-ops in low-income industries.
An initiative between the house-cleaning co-op  Si Se Puede! (We can do it!) and a group of researchers from Cornell Tech graduate school aims to allow them to offer home-cleaning services to a wider spectrum of clients. The low-wage workers can therefore be connected to the 'digital sharing economy'.  Read more here.

Upcoming Events
  United States Worker Cooperative National Conference 2016 , July 29th to July 31st in Austin, Texas. 

  Principle Six Cooperative Conference, April 16 from 9-4, in Augusta, Maine.

Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada Daily Newsletter Sign-up
To sign up for the CMC Fullintel daily newsletter, contact Brendan Denovan.
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