Volume 10 Issue 6
CWCF October 2018

An Update on the CWCF-CoopZone Conference

Thanks to all of those who've already registered for our 2018 Conference - we look forward to seeing you soon in Winnipeg.  For those who haven't registered yet but would like to do so, good news: the registration deadline has been extended to October 26th.  CWCF's new Strategic Plan, which will be presented at the Conference, is nearly complete!  We are excited about the sessions and the speakers now lined up.  The Conference Program and other information are available at http://canadianworker.coop/2018-conference/.  The link to register is on that page, or you can click directly here

We also have good news for those who may not be attending the Conference as a whole but are interested in attending our evening keynote presentation November 1st: this event is now free of charge. You should register in advance to reserve your seat.
Last Chance to Complete the CMC/CWCF Worker Co-op Survey!   

If you haven't received the CMC/CWCF Worker Co-op Survey, email your co-op's name and contact info to survey@canada.coop.  This survey is also open to multi-stakeholder co-ops.  Participating co-ops will be entered into a draw for $200.  It is very important that CWCF have accurate information on worker co-ops across the country - to better understand the co-ops and to be able to advocate effectively to help meet worker co-op needs.  So, we encourage all worker & multi-stakeholder co-ops to complete the survey!  Thank you.
In This Issue
Ontario Worker Co-operative Is Helping the Province Meet Climate Change Targets One Building at a Time

Digital Journal 

The Fourth Pig Co-operative, one of the most innovative sustainable construction companies in Ontario, is improving the environment for the province and those living and working in their buildings.

"The simple fact is that conventional buildings are a climate change catastrophe. If we don't change the way we make them, then we will not meet the greenhouse gas targets we need to address climate change," says Matt Adams, one of the Co-operative's founders and director of operations and education.

Set up as a worker co-operative - a business owned and operated by its members - the Fourth Pig uses ecologically sustainable construction materials to create healthy buildings and communities to address climate change in the GTA, the Golden Horseshoe and the Muskoka region.

Read more

Glorious Organics Worker Co-op takes a co-operative approach to farming in Langley 

Miranda Gathercole, Langley Times

While many consumers know that "organic" fruits and vegetables means the food has been grown without the use of pesticides and chemicals, the word has deeper significance for the six members of Glorious Organics.

For starters, the farmers at this Aldergrove co-operative at 1374 256 St. have been using organic techniques since the early 1980s - about a decade before the provincial government created regulations - and helped to write the organic certification program that is now used across all of B.C.

They also became a founding member of B.C. Eco Seed, a co-operative that distributes ecological and organic seeds grown in B.C., and are working on new initiatives to help small-scale farmers cope with climate change.

Workers' Co-ops in Canada Gaining Power, Voice and Stability 

Maya Bhullar, Rabble

For the past year few months, I have been following the story of 
Glitter Bean Café in Halifax. Baristas have helped build a unionized co-operative, with  SEIU Local 2 as the union. The Glitter Bean is a café, a safe space for LGBTQ youth in Halifax, and a part of the baristas working to improve their lives and those of others.  

Their struggle started in 2013 when baristas working for  Just Us! Coffee Roasters Co-op, one of Canada's first fair trade workers' co-operatives, started their fight for unionization. In 2017, Just Us! then  sold its Halifax locations to another company called Smiling Goat, which was found to have not paid employees and suppliers. After Smiling Goat moved to  shut down all six of its cafés, the former Smiling Goat baristas worked with allies and the union to start  Glitter Bean
Their campaign is an illustrative story about working with both unions and the co-op model to stand for your values, improve your workplace, save your job and have a voice at work. 

Upcoming Education Opportunities: CoopZone and Co-operate Now

CoopZone Online Training Program
CoopZone will be offering two courses in its online training program on cooperative development: An introductory course designed for people who are interested in understanding the types and roles of co-ops and the basic co-operative development process but  who may not be active co-operative developers; and an advanced course that will provide participants with advanced skills and information to provide development, facilitation, and project management services to new, existing and expanding co-operatives. The deadline to register for either course is October 30th.

Cooperate Now
For the fourth year in a row, the BC Co-op Association has partnered with Vancity and more than a dozen BC co-ops and credit unions in BC to launch Cooperate Now, an interactive business skills bootcamp for entrepreneurs or community members interested in building a co-op enterprise. They are now accepting applications for the next Cooperate Now program, which will be held in November 15-18th 2018 in Vancouver, BC.

Top Co-op Issues 2018

Centre for the Study of Co-operatives

This is our third annual survey of co-op leaders across Canada. According to CEOs, board members, and managers in virtually every region and sector, the number one issue for co-op leaders, as it was last year, is public awareness of the co-operative model. As one respondent put it succinctly: "I believe the lack of understanding of the co-operative model among the general public is still the sector's biggest challenge."

We canvassed co-op leaders, including CEOs and managers, board members, and academics, on their views about the most critical challenges. Our thirty-seven key informants identified many issues, which we have analysed and organized under themes that include competitiveness, access to capital, co-op development, member engagement, relevance, and governance.

Co-ops Aren't Just About "Kumbaya" and Sharing of Resources, Expert Says

Jenny Peng, StarMetro Vancouver

Five years since Elvy Del Bianco started working at Vancity his budget has increased multifold and his phone is "ringing off the hook" fielding interests from Lower Mainland entrepreneurs looking for an alternative business model to realize their hopeful ideas.
As the program manager of co-operative partnerships at Vancity, a member-owned financial co-operative, Del Bianco acknowledges that educating the public on co-operatives as a viable business model has been lost in "too much" information on co-ops. 

Co-op Week 2018: October 14 - 20

The third week of October is Co-op Week across Canada. Among many others, the following events are planned: 
Wherever you are, there are also ways you can celebrate the co-operative advantage on your own. Here are five suggested by the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada:

  • Show your love for co-ops by downloading these free  Co-op Week posters. Post in common areas of your co-op to get members excited about Co-op Week.
  • Host a screening of A Silent Transformation, a film about co-ops. Invite neighbours in your community to join.
  • Hold a Cheese and Chocolate Social featuring products from co-op producers. Camino ChocolatesGay Lea & St. Albert Cheese are just a few of the delicious co-op options you can try.
  • Organize a co-op walk to explore the other co-ops in your neighbourhood.
  • Decorate your Co-op Week event with the latest co-op merchandise from The Flag Shop.

Putting Motion 100 in Motion

Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada 

On April 5, 2017, MP's in the House of Commons voted unanimously to support  Alexandra Mendès motion M-100 calling on the government to support and promote co-operatives and mutuals in Canada. We are approaching the 7-month anniversary of that date with limited activities by the government to date in response. We are still confident that the strong message sent by the unanimous vote will lead to action that benefits Canadians from coast to coast to coast through co-operative solutions.

However, we are asking you to send a letter that encourages follow through on the intent of Motion M-100 to engage in consultations with the provinces and territories, indigenous communities, and co-operative stakeholders to learn how the government can best support and promote co-operatives. It takes only a few moments to complete.
CMC Members and delegates will be "hiking the Hill" to lobby MPs to support co-operative solutions to the many difficult issues we face both socially and economically in Canada on November 29. Your letter will show support for these important conversations.

Thank you for participating in this important initiative in the lead up to our advocacy day with Parliamentarians!

Le modèle coopératif pour pallier au manque de relève

 Association de la construction du Québec-Région de Québec

L'Association de la construction du Québec (ACQ)-Québec a conclu une entente avec Réseau COOP et la Coopérative de développement régional du Québec (CDRQ) afin de faire connaître le modèle coopératif auprès de ses entrepreneurs dans une ère de transferts massifs d'entreprises.

"Nous assistons malheureusement depuis quelques années à plusieurs fermetures d'entreprises en raison d'un manque de relève dans l'entourage immédiat de nombreux entrepreneurs", indique Véronique Mercier, directrice générale à l'ACQ-Québec.  Le modèle coopératif, bien que pouvant se décliner en plusieurs formes selon le domaine d'activité, consisterait notamment, dans le cas d'une entreprise de l'industrie la construction, en un rachat des parts de l'entreprise par des employés en place.
L'ACQ-Québec souhaite s'assurer que son important réseau de membres ait accès à de l'information et des ressources et ainsi être pleinement renseigné sur cette alternative.
La Coopérative forestière Ferland-Boilleau: innover avec les PFNL!

C'est depuis 2014 que la coopérative travaille avec les PFNL, au moment où elle a fait l'acquisition d'un bâtiment de 100 pieds sur 300 pieds désigné Centre de valorisation des ressources forestières. «À cette époque, nous récoltions et conditionnions de l'if du Canada pour Intas Pharmaceutical en Inde. Nous avions aussi mis en place notre filiale nommée «Groupe Boréa Ressources » pour la fabrication d'huiles essentielles », se souvient Éric Simard, directeur administratif et responsable des PFNL à la Coop.

Au fil des années, différentes autres activités se sont greffées. «Dans les années antérieures, nous avions quand même commencé la récolte de plantes pour différents clients, mais à petite échelle », mentionne-t-il au passage.

Lire la suite
Co-operative Movement Supports International Fair Trade Charter

International Co-operative Alliance

Today, the International Co-operative Alliance is among the more than 250 organizations around the world uniting to launch anInternational Fair Trade Charter. It sets down the fundamental values of Fair Trade and defines a common vision towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Business as usual will not deliver the step change needed to meet the SDGs, adopted by the world's nations. Far from marching a steady course to reach these global goals by 2030, in some areas we are even going backwards.  A recent United Nations report shows that hunger has actually risen in the past three years after a long period of decline, leaving  one  in  nine  people  undernourished ( The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018).

The International Fair Trade Charter sets out a different  vision:  a  world  in  which  justice,  equity  and  sustainable  development  are  at  the  heart  of  trade  structures,  business  models  and  practices  so  that  everyone,  through  their  work,  can  maintain  a  decent  and  dignified  livelihood  and  develop  their  full  human  potential.

Report: Business Sales to Worker Co-ops Can Preserve over 1,000 Jobs a Year

Steve Dubb, Nonprofit Quarterly

"Baby Boomers own the majority of small businesses," notes Oscar Perry Abello in Next City, "but only 17 percent of them have a formal exit plan for when they want to retire." As NPQ has noted, employee ownership is increasingly considered a way to preserve jobs and businesses as owners retire. An estimated 24.7 million people work for boomer-owned companies, so this is hardly a small portion of our economy.
Typically, when US businesses think of employee ownership, the form that ownership takes is an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) company. The most up-to-date data (from 2015) finds that 10.8 million Americans work at an estimated 6,669 companies in which an ESOP owns all or part of the company. Because an ESOP is a federally regulated pension plan, there are costs involved. For smaller companies, especially companies with fewer than 20 employees, a worker cooperative, which is directly owned by workers and is not a pension plan, is likely to be a more cost-effective way for workers to purchase the company from the owners.

What If Employees Co-Owned the Business Where They Work

Nathan Schneider, The Guardian
What do Bernie Sanders and Paul Ryan have in common? Mr. Ryan recently learned he has some Jewish ancestry, but there is at least one other thing, tucked between their otherwise diametrically opposed visions for the US economy: both advocate enabling more Americans to co-own the businesses where they work.

Mr Ryan has been a longtime co-sponsor of bills supporting employee stock-ownership plans, or ESOPs, through which millions of workers reap the profits they help create, on top of their wages. Mr Sanders, meanwhile, is among those on the left now crafting ambitious bills to promote employee ownership nationwide. Americans seem divided on just about everything, but if the two of them can agree that we should co-own more of the businesses we rely on, maybe the rest of us can too.

Are Media Coops the Business Model of the Future?

Hazel Sheffield, Columbia Journalism Review

On a wet September evening in Shoreditch, East London, the editors of New Internationalist meet their magazine's new owners for the first time. The team has just completed a redesign with hip London content agency TCO, who volunteered their basement gallery for the launch. Over the roar of an industrial fan, between walls decorated with blown-up pages from the dense, bi-monthly magazine, staff chat to some of the 3,467 new co-owners: a mixture of readers, writers, and supporters who bought shares as part of a crowdfunding campaign that raised almost $900,000 by the time it concluded in April 2017.

Since then, New Internationalist has been reckoning with its new status as one of the world's biggest media co-operatives. "This is the magic of the share offer: You invest in the kind of world-or the kind of media-you want to see," says co-editor Hazel Healy. In a world of declining magazine circulations, New Internationalist has secured its future. Now it must reimagine its structure to share decisions with thousands of owners, without compromising its editorial independence.

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