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International Experts on Employee Ownership and Business Succession Gather in Quebec City

By Bruce Reynolds (Rural Cooperatives Magazine, Jan/Feb 2012 – United States Department of Agriculture) The retirement of the baby-boom generation will have major economic effects. One of these will be turnover in ownership, or closure, of many small businesses. When the present owners wish to retire, the most readily available buyers are local or regional competitors. Yet, many of them may close the competing businesses they acquire. The closure outcome is often avoided with succession planning for new owners such as the employees. The challenge of sustaining small, mostly family-owned, businesses, is confronting many countries in addition to the U.S. Canadian cooperative organizations hosted a conference on business succession and employee ownership last October in Quebec City (www.cooperation2011.coop). This conference proved to be extraordinary both in its international scope and in the expertise that speakers and audience brought to the discussion of issues in transitioning ownership to employees. Quebec City…

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Workshop Summary- Generations in Worker Co-ops

On October 15, 2011 there was a workshop at the North American Worker Co-operative Conference in Quebec City titled ‘Generational Change in a Worker Co-op’ hosted by EnerGreen Builders’ Eric Tusz-King and CICOPA’s Bruno Roelants. The following are notes taken by Eric Tusz-King, Member of EnerGreen Builders Co-operative, Sackville, New Brunswick. Relationships are complex: People are individuals with different experiences and gifts and concerns People are the products of their generation and there are characteristics of different generations Not all people of a generation are similar any more than individuals are similar In the past it was about young and old and the old had experienced the same things as the younger generation. This is still true, but there are also differences in generational assumptions about life and work. Commitment to work Long term At work Accountability to others Commitment to a cause Commitment to family Assumptions about roles and…

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Executive Director’s Report – November 2011

Dear members and friends of CWCF, First of all, in our Quebec Conferences, we succeeded! We-have done something extraordinary. We came together. We FORMED CICOPA-North America, for all of Quebec, the rest of Canada and the US – at a minimum. This is about Human Beings Gathered together around the values ​​of worker co-operation, Regardless of our country, our language, or our differences. By coming together, we-have Learned That what units us is much more significant than what Divides us. Recall que la-CICOPA North America Conference theme was “Co-operation without Borders,” and That Is what we-have Begun to experience. One way in qui Is That This Was evident DURING THE Conference week, the Federation of Co-operatives Paramedic of Quebec Decided to join CWCF, qui means clustering That All Quebec worker co-op federations-have now joined CWCF. CICOPA-North America now all three units Quebec federations, CWCF and US FWC Into one entity.…

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Visiting Worker Co-operatives in Toronto

From May 11 to May 13, 2011 the CWCF board met in Toronto. This gave me the chance to visit some worker co-operatives in Toronto for the first time. Before and after our board meeting I hopped on a bixi bike and rode to worker co-operatives around the inner city. The first place on my visit was Drum Travel. They specialize in trips to Africa, Cuba and Latin America and mostly cater to NGOs and academics. Despite the travel agency industry changing greatly, Drum Travel has been operating for over 30 years. Give them a call at 416 964 3388 if you are travelling around the world. Their service is great and you can save lots of headaches, too. Next I visited Come As You Are. They are on Queen Street West. This area is a little run down, but Come As You Are is definitely a gem. The store…

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The Potential of Worker Co-operatives

Alain Bridault October 28, 2010 CWCF Annual Conference Vancouver, British Columbia In the anglophone world of co-operation, the history of modern co-ops began with those who were called the Pioneers of the city of Rochdale, now a suburb of Manchester (England). The Pioneers were issued from the ranks of the proletariat; they were factory workers. They had conceived, in the middle of the nineteenth century, the first and the most historically ambitious Strategic Plan to rebuild all the economy and all of society on the basis of co-ops. Their Plan was set in three stages: First, as they were poor factory workers unable to raise enough money to invest in their own factory, they chose to start, in 1844, with a small consumer co-op, with no employees, functioning on the voluntary work of members. The first stage of that plan was an enormous success. With that first entreprise, their goal…

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Managing the democratic life in a worker co-op: role of members, the board and managers/co-ordinators

Alain Bridault CWCF Annual Conference Saturday, October 30, 2010 in Vancouver Summary Bilingual 90 minutes video recording In a worker co-op, one has to have a good understanding of group dynamics. There are 2 energies within the group. 1. Production energy. The more important the goal or target is, the higher the energy level. When you look at a worker co-operative this target is actually the worker co-operative advantage. This is what mobilizes people to form co-ops. For example, in the 1960s in Quebec there was not access to natural food products. A network of co-operatives formed to provide access to these products. The goal was have access to natural food products. When supermarkets in the 1980s and 1990s started stocking natural food products, the co-operatives gradually disappeared. The drive is strongest in worker co-operatives. The intensity of usage of products and services is highest in worker co-operatives. Our entire…

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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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