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Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives – The Big Cheese

The Cheese Board was created in 1967 by two co-founders who had previously worked in Kibbutz’s in Israel. By providing abundant choice of European style cheeses to Berkeley (over 300), the Cheese Board has become one of the most successful worker co-operatives in North America. From the beginning the Cheese Board paid everyone the same, no matter what worker’s previous experience was or their seniority. The philosophy of the co-founders was that everyone’s time was worth the same. To this day the Cheese Board maintains this policy. When the Cheese Board was created, the Berkeley area was home to many revolutionary thinkers. Many thought that there was a revolution happening. Part of the ideology was that business and money were evil. Many initiatives were created to buck the system. Since the Cheese Board charged for their items and paid their staff, some activists called them a ‘bourgeois’ co-op. When the…

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CICOPA Interview with CWCF President Alain Bridault (2010 CWCF March/April E-Newsletter)

Q: You’ve recently been elected president of the Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation (CWCF). Why was this important to you? A: It seemed essential to me to strengthen worker co-operatives in Quebec by joining the Quebec movement with the Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation.  Therefore, in 2007, I first convinced the Network of Worker Co-operatives of Quebec, of which my co-op is a member, to become a regional member of the Federation.  Being the representative of the Quebec Network to the CWCF, I was elected to CWCF’s Board of Directors.  I then convinced the Federation of Forestry Co-operatives in Quebec to also become a CWCF member.  I believe that since the Board of the CWCF quickly elected me to be vice president in 2008 and then president in 2009, it is a mark of recognition of the worker co-ops in Quebec since they are the largest number of worker co-ops of all…

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The Growth Factors of Worker Co-operatives – Interview with Bruno Roelants (2010 CWCF March/April E-Newsletter)

Bruno Roelants is the General Secretary of CICOPA (International Organisation of Industrial, Artisanal and Service Producers’ Co-operatives), which is the sectoral organization of the International Co-operative Alliance that promotes worker cooperatives. Headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, CICOPA has a membership of 57 national and regional cooperative federations in 39 countries. CWCF recently had the opportunity to interview Bruno Roelants. Q: Where are the largest worker co-op sectors? A: Italy and Spain are by far the largest. In Italy alone there are 800,000 workers in worker co-operatives, comprising tens of thousands of enterprises. France is the third highest with about 2,000 enterprises. Q: Where is there rapid growth? A: In Italy the growth is from social co-operatives, which have increased 30% in the last 5 years. Q: How do you explain the huge scale of the worker co-op movement in Italy and Spain? A: First, the worker co-op movements there have been large…

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The Co-operative Movement in the Next 100 Years: What are the Opportunities? The Challenges?

Ian MacPherson Professor Emeritus of History Co-director, the National Hub The Canadian Social Economy Research Partnerships The University of Victoria cluny1@uvic.ca Speech to Worker Co-operatives and Sustainable Development Canadian Worker Co-op Federation Vancouver October 2010 Video recording When Hazel Corcoran asked me to speak at this year’s meeting of the Federation, I was particularly honoured. One of my most pleasant co-op memories is the founding convention of the Canadian Worker Co-op Federation (CWCF) at Antigonish in April 1991. At that time, I was President of the Canadian Co-operative Association and I like to think that in that capacity I played a useful if modest role in helping make it possible. Most of all, though, I look back at that conference for its excitement, the kind of enthusiasm that often accompanies beginnings and formative periods within the co-operative movement. I also recall it for the depth of engagement by so many…

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