Posted on

Worker Co-ops and Employment Law in Canada

Prepared for: Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation and Saint Mary’s University By John McNamara, Student, Master of Management Co-operatives and Credit Unions, St. Mary’s University Excerpt: 1.0 Introduction Worker co-operatives occupy a unique place in the economy and employment law. The employees of the organization also control the organization as owners. As a result, the workers set the rules, which they must follow. Organizationally, the government sees these co-operatives as employers and treats them as any other employer. It may be a sentiment of members in a worker co-operative that they should be able to do what they want since they are both employer and employee, but the state has different considerations. Worker co-operatives must act within the law. Among other things, this means determining if there is an employer-employee relationship. If there is such a relationship, then the co-operative must also abide by employment standards. Even if there is not,…

Read more

Posted on

Cooperative enterprises in industry and services prove their strong resilience to the crisis

Cooperative enterprises in industry and services prove their strong resilience to the crisis Since October 2008, the financial crisis has been affecting the economy and the financial system at the world level. As a response to the concerns regarding this situation and the serious challenges for employment, enterprise sustainability and social cohesion, CICOPA initiated a consultation process amongst its members in 2009, updated in 2010, in order to gain a better idea of the effects of the crisis on the affiliated enterprises. Most CICOPA members have participated in this consultation namely 27 organisations from 21 countries. According to the results of this study, cooperative enterprises in industry and services show better results in facing the crisis than other types of business in the same sectors. This is possible thanks to the intrinsic characteristics of cooperatives and notably what is called “the cooperative innovation”. The cooperative system promotes sustainable employment in…

Read more

Posted on

CWCF Good Governance May 19, 2010 Tele-learning Session Summary

Please see the notes and PowerPoint presentation below. “Governance” means: the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented) United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Human Settlements, What is Good Governance. “Governance is the task of defining the goals and standards of an organization and ensuring that there are effective management and other structures that will enable the organization to achieve these goals and standards”, Code of governance for housing co-operatives: Confederation of Co-operative Housing, February 2001. Excerpt: Presenter: Reba Plummer, Urbane Cycling: I will be presenting on Urbane Cycling’s experience on governance issues. Going to the CWCF annual conference has helped because you get to meet other worker co-ops and find out how they deal with governance issues. We are a bicycle shop in downtown Toronto. We started with 3 or 4 members. One person was the leader…

Read more

Posted on

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…

Read more

Posted on

Worker Co-op Toolbox

Worker Coop Toolbox The above guide Supports Worker Co-op Formation and Expansion Developed by the North country Cooperative Foundation (Minnesota), the Worker Co-op Toolbox provides a new set of resources to assist potential worker co-op members and their partners in choosing, planning, organizing, and supporting new and existing employee-owned cooperatives. Thanks to Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund for granting permission to republish. Excerpt: In today’s dynamic marketplace, employee-owned cooperatives can provide a wide variety of workers with business-ownership opportunities offering a range of benefits that are hard to find in any other corporate structure: democratic governance, enhanced job security, and profit sharing based on labor input. Employee-owned businesses can also provide unique economic benefits to local communities by generating locally based economic activity and anchoring capital in a community. Because worker co-ops are owned by employees rather than investors, they create a situation where engaged, local ownership can flourish, rather than absentee…

Read more

Posted on

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…

Read more

Posted on

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…

Read more

Posted on

2010 CWCF Tele-learning Session #2 – Conflict Resolution Summary

Please see attachments below for the summary, PowerPoint, accountability chart procedures, accountability chart, employment contract, and job description examples. To listen to the session please view here http://www.divshare.com/download/11127983-bde. Job Description Form Co-opEmployment ContractAccountability Chart ProceduresConflict in Worker Co-opsAccountability Chart2010 CWCF Tele-learning Session – Conflict Resolution – Notes

Read more

Posted on

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…

Read more

Posted on

Union-Led Buy-Outs

Guides drafted in spring 2009 for union-led conversions to worker co-ops from other business forms, by the Western Labour-Worker Coop Council. 1of4 Union-Led Buy-Outs – Coop Basics2of4 Union-Led Buy-Outs – Checklist3of4 Union-Led Buy-Outs – Steps4of4 Union-Led Buy-Outs – Success

Read more