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International Forum Of The Social Economy (Fiess, Montreal)

More than 1,300 people from some 65 countries attended the International Forum of the Social Economy (the Fiess) held during the week of October 17, 2011. Undoubtedly, the event was a unique moment for the actors of the social economy to discover the best practices and the opportunity to see that, around the globe, people are mobilizing for an economy more democratic, more inclusive and sustainable. At the Forum, Alain Bridault, President of the Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation presented ideas and tools developed, in the workshop hosted by the RÉSEAU titled, “The co-operative as a formula for the revival of business and to safeguard jobs.” This workshop was in follow up with the Business Succession and Employee Ownership Conference held the week before in Quebec City. Alain Bridault also presented this topic briefly in plenary, which can be seen on video here: click on the 18 minute mark. Fiess presentations, photos 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 Worker Co-op Sector in Canada: Success Factors, and Planning for Growth

Abstract The objective of this paper is to provide an analysis of the current state of the worker co-op movement in Canada with a focus on successful worker co-ops. A deepened review of a 2008 survey was conducted. Worker co-operatives which have failed were analyzed, and a full-day workshop with the CWCF Board of Directors was conducted to assess the factors that would lead to faster growth in the sector. The research project also involved surveying 13 worker co-operatives across Canada to identify common factors of success. The survey results indicated that a large majority of founding members in these successful worker co-operatives did not have business experience. Overriding this was the willingness of members to work together and to continuously learn on the job in a working environment that allows them to express their values and social concerns. Through this, successful worker co-operatives were able to carve a niche…

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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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Code of Worker Co-op Governance, CooperativesUK

The attached pdf, by CooperativesUK, is a booklet which seeks to practically implement the ICA World Declaration on Worker Ownership.  The link is a longer version of the same containing other resources as well.  “The booklet is intentionally short. It focuses on the core features of a well-governed worker co-operative rather than providing details about the policies and procedures required. Instead, these details are available on the online version of the Worker Co-operative Code of Governance, which we have developed to complement to this booklet. Here you’ll find an interactive version of the Code, with links through to examples of policies, procedures and strategies that successful worker co-operatives use, as well as containing other useful hints, tips and ideas.” The-worker-co-operative-code-of-governance

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CWCF Report on Member Relations Project

This 2008 report, including Appendices A-C, provides information from the CWCF’s Member Relations project and worker co-op survey.  It is available in English, below, and in French on the French part of the CoopZone site. Excerpt: I. Introduction CWCF carried out this project, entitled “Strengthening Membership, Strengthening the CWCF” or the “Member Relations Project” from June, 2007 through March, 2008. a. Background CWCF has been in existence since 1992. As a member-based Federation serving the emerging worker co-op sector, CWCF has focused heavily on worker co-op development. As of one year ago when we proposed this project, we had not placed as much emphasis on services to existing worker co-op members, and the relationship with regional worker co-op federations, as on new development. As of spring 2007, CWCF had a growing membership; 65 members; but there were approximately 250 -300 worker co-ops in the country (the majority in Quebec) which…

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