Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation

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

June 2014
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Month Year Vol 1, Issue 1
Month Year Vol 1, Issue 1
 CWCF News
Don't let this be your last CWCF newsletter. If you're not on our mailing list for after July 1st, you could miss out on receiving future CWCF newsletters.

Click here to stay on our list. 


Staffing Changes  
CWCF is very pleased to welcome new RRSP Program Manager /Bookkeeper, Kristin Glenn, of Woodville, NS to our small staff.  However, it is with sadness that we bid farewell to Pamela Farrow who recently left this position to return to her former career in financial planning.  Staff contact information can be found here.

Worker Co-op Member renewal notices
have been emailed.  If you haven't yet responded, please do so soon.  CWCF relies on member dues to support our activities to help strengthen the worker co-op movement across the country.
In This Issue
2014 CWCF-CoopZone Conference Program Announced
CMC Congress Report
Worker co-ops work well!
International Energy Agency engages Sustainability Solutions Group
At The Root working musician's co-operative launching
US Worker Co-op National Conference - Article #1
US Worker Co-op National Conference - Article #2
Worker Cooperatives: Pathways to Scale
Levelling the Playing Field for Worker Cooperatives
Happy Worker Cooperative Day!
The Digital Cooperative:
Can Unions and Cooperatives Join Forces?
Unions and Co-ops continued
Worker co-op buys three Stonington businesses
International Summit of Co-operatives
Sommet international des coopératives 2014
All-Party Caucus on Co-operatives on Parliament Hill/ Verision française suit
Honourable Mauril Bélanger, Member of Parliament for Ottawa-Vanier en française
2014 CWCF-CoopZone Conference Update
  Co-operative Collaborations:

Member Engagement and External Partnerships


Wolfville, Nova Scotia, November 6 - 8, 2014

Old Orchard Inn

The CWCF Conference will be held in Wolfville, NS from November 6-8, with optional activities in the evening of the 5th.  


We are very excited about the draft Program, which can be viewed here. The link also contains registration costs, information about travel subsidies, and more.  The theme is : Member Engagement and External Partnerships.  


We are thrilled to feature Jos� Orbaiceta, President of the Worker Co-operative Federation of Argentina, as one of the speakers.  


There will be plenary forum sessions on: Worker Co-op Member Engagement, & Recruitment and Evaluation in a Worker Co-op.  


The Planning Committee has come up with a great set of workshops including: What Should be Decided by Whom in a Worker Co-op?, International Solidarity, Participatory Management, Expanding your Worker Co-op, Pricing for Profit, The Co-operative Advantage and Branding including Social Media, and more!  


Online registration will be active by mid-July.  



Congress of Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada
Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada (CMC), Canada's new apex organization for all co-op and mutuals, held its first Congress / AGM in Moncton, NB from June 16-19.  There was a positive sense of people coming together across linguistic groups at this Congress, as well as a strong presence of youth who are creating "Canada's Emerging Co-operators".  Featured were day-long learning labs, AGMs of CMC, the Canadian Co-operative Association (which since April 1st focuses exclusively on international development), and the Co-operative Enterprise Council of New Brunswick, as well as a keynote by Kevin Page, former Parliamentary Budget Officer.  At the CMC AGM, several important resolutions passed including by-laws, a delegate engagement plan, and that CMC seek along with members and partners to establish the Canadian Co-op Investment Fund, which is currently about 2/3rds of the way toward having the minimum pledges of $20 million.  A resolution proposed by CWCF, calling on CMC to hold consultations with members on the concept of the indivisible reserve, also passed. 

CWCF's Hazel Corcoran was re-elected to the Board where she is now one of the Vice Presidents.  The other CMC directors are:  President Leo LeBlanc (Co-op Atlantic), Vice President Denis Richard (Coop F�d�r�e), Marco Plourde (F�d�ration des caisses populaires acadiennes), Lucie Moncion (Alliance des caisses populaires de l'Ontario), Melvin Doiron (Conseil acadien de la coop�ration (NB)), Doug Lang (Central 1 Credit Union), Monique Leroux (Mouvement Desjardins), Todd MacEwan (Prince Edward Island Co-operative Council), Mark Needham (Arctic Co-ops Ltd.), Serge Riendeau (Agropur), Rolf Traichel (Federated Co-operatives Limited), Nick Sidor (Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada) and Jack Wilkinson (The Co-operators). 


Month Year Vol 1, Issue 1
Worker co-ops work well!


CWCF Atlantic Director Eric Tusz-King and Executive Director Hazel Corcoran both contributed to this article about worker co-ops, featuring Just Us! Coffee Roasters in Wolfville, NS and EnerGreen Builders Co-op in Sackville, NB - in the May/June 2014 edition of The Canadian Co-operator magazine. To read it, click here. 



International Energy Agency engages Sustainability Solutions Group to develop an innovative district energy tool


The International Energy Association awarded Canadian consultancy Sustainability Solutions Group (SSG) Worker Co-op a three-year project to create a computational tool for municipal planners all over the world to help minimize energy needs, infrastructure costs and climate impacts from towns and cities.

Click here to read their press release



At The Root working musician's co-operative launching

  The co-op will bring musicians and their audiences together to ensure the vitality of Waterloo Region's music scene. The collective will host shows, promote artists, share resources and provide educational opportunities to help musicians grow and thrive in this community. Audiences will benefit from a stronger music scene with more opportunities to support and enjoy local music.




Learn more about this exciting new co-op at this link - which also profiles Together We're Bitter Brewery Co-operative, featured in a prior CWCF newsletter.



US Worker Co-op National Conference - Article #1

Report by Jeremy Axon, Urbane Cyclist Worker Co-op, Toronto


Chicago recently hosted the Worker Coop National Conference (WCNC) as well as the 10th anniversary of the U.S. Federation of Worker Coops. This conference brought people from many states, as well as approximately two representatives from Canada if the introductory keynote audience participation was accurate. From my perspective, attending this conference on behalf of Urbane Cyclist Worker Co-op and having recently attended the CWCF AGM, the crowd was surprisingly diverse with many excited and passionate co-op worker owners of various ages, genders, cultures and industries represented.


The keynote address from Dan Swinney of Manufacturing Rennaissance was very inspiring. The revitalization of a domestic manufacturing industry in the control of the workers and the feasibility thereof with concentrated effort rang true to me, coming from the Hamilton area. The passion that Swinney and the other speakers had was echoed by the crowd's enthusiasm for self-determination and democracy in their workplaces. There was a palpable sense of excitement surrounding the worker coop business model, even in the face of FAGOR's recent woes in Mondragon, Spain.


Being a cyclist and working in the bicycle industry I tend to dress in cycling related clothing, and I quickly encountered people from various co-ops in the United States with similar interests. I felt that the similarities we shared made us fast friends, as if I just met a friend I had somehow not seen for a long time.  


In most urban markets across North America the same kinds of co-ops seem to be starting, growing or thriving. Grocery stores, courier services, cleaning services, arts organizations, breweries, coffee roasters, chocolate makers... every kind of worker co-op I can find in the Greater Toronto Area, or in Winnipeg, or in Vancouver I could find from various states around the U.S. This really started me thinking about networking various co-ops of a similar industry and how to use shared knowledge and experience to help the individual businesses and the co-op movement as a whole. This experience emphasized the importance of solidarity between co-ops.


Riding a Divvy bikeshare bicycle around Chicago, it was easy to see why manufacturing and industrial worker co-ops were highlighted at this conference. Chicago is a town suffering from lack of industry. The same suffering is being felt in communities all over the world as globalization has its fickle way with economies. This conference provided not only a method to persevere the uncertainties globalization has wrought upon traditional business structures but also illustrated a top to bottom approach to developing worker co-ops. The high school with advanced manufacturing and business curriculum discussed by Dan Swinney in his keynote paved the way for new worker co-op start-ups, and his successes and failures in converting businesses to worker co-ops; either by buyouts or through succession planning; gave a beginning to end framework for ways to develop co-ops for the betterment of communities as a whole. What better inspiration to receive?



 US Worker Co-op National Conference - Article #2


By Hazel Corcoran, CWCF

The US FWC National Conference 2014, held in Chicago was the largest worker co-op conference to date in the United States, with 470 participants. My sense is that about half of the participants were from existing worker co-ops, with the remainder being developers, people starting new worker co-ops, academics, lawyers, funders, representatives from the labour movement, non-profits, foundations, faith communities, etc.  There is a mushrooming interest in worker co-operatives in the US as the shattered economy leaves millions of people searching for an alternative economic model, and also leaves foundations, churches, etc. seeking for ways to help marginalized people.


My first stop was: a day-long intensive session entitled "Should You Sell Your Business to Your Employees?  Succession Planning Through Worker Cooperative Conversion."  (See the full article for more on this and many other details from the Conference.)


Quoting the closing keynote, by Ed Whitfield: "Because of the crushing way the current economic system treats people, we need to develop our full humanity through democratic worker ownership. ... Principles 6 & 7 must be lived principles. ... We need to build inclusive democratic entrepreneurship.  We need to unleash our creativity toward doing things for the common good.  We must find creative ways to build this movement."


This Conference showed that the US FWC and the Democracy at Work Institute are effectively getting the message out about the potential of worker co-ops to create better jobs and more sustainable businesses, including through the significant amount of academic research / writing and press coverage the model is attracting in the US.  However, it was noted that even with a high estimate, worker co-ops currently represent only about .03% of all businesses in the US.  I hope that DAWI and the US FWC, in collaboration with their many partners and supporters, will be able to effectively start scaling up the worker co-op movement in the US to meet the many and daunting challenges in their economy - as we also need to do here in Canada, and is needed around the world.



Worker Cooperatives: Pathways to Scale

Public interest in cooperatives has surged since the global financial crisis, as people cry out for an alternative to business-as-usual. In spite of their many benefits for individuals, businesses, and society, however, cooperatives are not well understood in the United States. The field of worker co-op development is just beginning to create the infrastructure and knowledge base needed to increase its scale and impact.


This report aims to help build the field of U.S. worker co-op development by providing a current view of the cooperative landscape and by analyzing factors that inhibit or promote cooperative development. To read more, click here.


 Levelling the Playing Field for Worker Cooperatives 

Saturday, 21 June 2014
Abby Scher,
| News Analysis


A quiet revolution is rumbling through New York's municipal offices as they retool to support the creation of worker cooperatives as a way to fight poverty.


Spurred by the powerful example of immigrant-owned cleaning cooperatives and the longstanding example of Cooperative Home Care Associates in the Bronx - the largest worker cooperative in the country - progressive city council members are allying with a new network of worker cooperatives, community based organizations that incubated immigrant-owned coops and the influential Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies to figure out how the city can encourage this still-tiny economic sector. New York's City Council is committing $1.2 million to a worker co-op development initiative. Read more... 



Happy Worker Cooperative Day!   

On June 21, 2014,, New York City's Network of Worker Cooperatives hosted its first annual NYC Worker Cooperative Conference. With presentations, panel discussions, and one-on-one counseling, this event is an opportunity for participants to learn more about economic democracy and connect with other employees of worker cooperatives.


Presentation of Mayoral, Public Advocate, and Manhattan Borough President Proclamations at 1st Annual NYC Worker Cooperative Conference.  


Visit their facebook page here..




The Digital Cooperative: help map how co-operatives engage with members

 Article by Anthony Murray

12 June 2014


A global study of the digital engagement of co-operatives has been launched.


The Digital Cooperative project - a joint Co-operative News initiative with French researcher Olivier Frey - will be the first look at how co-operatives are connecting with stakeholders, from members to customers.


Findings from the study will be unveiled at the International Summit of Cooperatives in Quebec in October, and it has already been classed by organizers as one of 12 ground-breaking studies into fostering the growth and sustainability of co-operatives.


Those involved in digital engagements in co-operatives are encouraged to take part in the initial five-minute poll to help map the level of engagement from around the sector. (Click here to contribute).


For more information about the Digital Cooperative project, click here)



Can Unions and Cooperatives Join Forces?
An Interview With United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard

Friday, 24 May 2013 00:00 By , Truthout | News Analysis


United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard talks to Truthout about the challenges and opportunities of a new labor model: the union co-op. 


As the economic crisis festers for many long-term unemployed and underemployed people, the idea of worker-owned and worker-run cooperatives has become ever more appealing as a possible pathway toward an economy that works for everyone. 

Click here to read the full article.  



Unions and Co-ops - continued   

 Interview of Rob Witherell


Representative, United Steelworkers (USW) to the USW-Mondragon Collaboration

by Steve Dubb, Research Director, The Democracy Collaborative


Rob Witherell works for the United Steelworkers union at its headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In addition to working on contract negotiations, benefits analysis, research and organizing, Rob has also led the United Steelworkers' efforts on developing union co-ops and is the union's lead liaison with the Mondrag�n Cooperative Corporation. To read the interview click here.



Month CVol 1, Issue 1
Worker co-op buys three Stonington businesses, saves 62 jobs

June 18, 2014, MaineBiz

By James McCarthy  


Three stores in Stonington will be taken over by a cooperative started by employees.  


Employees of Burnt Cove Market, V&S Variety and Pharmacy and The Galley in Stonington have purchased those businesses from retiring owners Vern and Sandra Seile.


The purchase, announced in a press release on Tuesday, was facilitated by the employees creating the Island Employee Cooperative Inc., the largest worker cooperative in Maine and one of the larger worker co-ops in the United States. In a worker co-op, each worker-owner has one (and only one) share in the corporation and one vote in its governance.



International Summit of Co-operatives  

Enhancing Competitiveness  


The Summit program includes the presentation of 25 groundbreaking studies like this one, entitled "Member Driven Strategies - Leveraging Cooperatives' Competitive Advantage", prepared by Bain & Company. The presentation will be followed by a forum discussion on membership.

Find out more in their June 18, 2014 newsletter here..


A Forum on Productivity, Sustainable Development and Respect

In this International Year of Family Farming, the Summit will bring together Sumalee Thongteera from Lam Pra Pleong Cooperative, along with representatives from National Farmers Union, Basix Social Enterprise Group, JA-Zenchu, CLUSA and the FAO.

Learn more...



Sommet international des coop�ratives 2014  


Accro�tre la comp�titivit� des coop�ratives

La pr�sentation de 25 �tudes in�dites figure au programme du Sommet, dont � Strat�gies � l'initiative des membres : tirer parti de l'avantage concurrentiel des coop�ratives �, qu'a pr�par�e Bain & Company. Suivra ensuite un forum sur le membership. En savoir plus... 



Forum sur la productivit�, le d�veloppement durable et le respect

Dans le cadre de l'Ann�e internationale de l'agriculture familiale, le Sommet r�unira Sumalee Thongteera, de la Lam Pra Pleong Cooperative, et des repr�sentants de la National Farmers Union, du Basix Social Enterprise Group, de la JA-Zenchu, de CLUSA et de l'Organisation des Nations Unies pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture (FAO). En savoir plus...



Mauril B�langer's Second Year as Liberal Advocate for Co-operatives

News update from the Honourable Mauril B�langer, M.P., Liberal Advocate for Co-operatives: 

 Click here to read his letter 





Deuxi�me ann�e de Mauril B�langer en tant que d�fenseur lib�ral des coop�ratives

Nouvelles de L'honorable Mauril B�langer, d�put� d'Ottawa-Vanier, D�fenseur lib�ral des coop�ratives  






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