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What If We had an Antidote to Worker Co-ops Selling out? The case for indivisible reserves in worker co-operatives

By Hazel Corcoran I read with great concern about the sale of New Belgium Brewery to Kirin-owned Lion Little World Beverages.  The concern is not only for the loss of this ESOP, as disappointing as that is.  Rather, it is because we know that every ESOP, worker co-operative and enterprise in the solidarity economy is vulnerable to the same fate.  Humans being what we are, sometimes when a collective enterprise becomes very successful after years of blood, sweat (equity), and tears, it is hard to resist the temptation to cash out as the opportunity presents itself.  A similar situation unfolded with Careforce Home Care Worker Co-op of Kentville, Nova Scotia, now Careforce Inc.  The Co-op converted from a conventional business to a worker co-op in 2008, with a loan and other support from the Canadian Worker Co-op Federation (CWCF).   It was our poster child for business succession to a worker…

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Remembering Two Pioneers in Quebec’s Forestry Industry

By Chloé Lemon and Dany Rousseau Within the span of two weeks, Quebec’s forestry industry lost two notable people. On November 23 Jean-Yves Lévesque, founder of the newspaper Le monde forestier, passed away, followed by Gérard Paris, first president of RESAM, on December 9. In 1987, Jean-Yves Lévesque founded the newspaper which would later become Le monde forestier or the “Forest World”. At the time, he had the idea of ​​taking a newsletter from the Quebec Forestry Cooperatives “Conference” or CCFQ”(now Quebec Federation of Forestry Co-ops or “FQCF”, a CWCF member) and publishing it in the form of a newspaper. Thus was born The Forest Co-operator, the predecessor of the Forest World. Initially, Mr. Lévesque took care of everything: he visited all the cooperatives. He managed the local collaborators, advertising, salespeople, and a part-time graphic designer who worked for the newspaper. For a while the office was in his house. …

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Executive Director’s Report, December 2019

December 18, 2019 New CWCF Look and Website Coming in 2020 / Connecting with Members / Vancouver Region WC Business Succession Project / WC Start-up Training Program  – Parcours COOP (Toronto) / Reconfirming Fall 2020 Conference Dates, & more! CWCF is excited to be working with the Montreal-based, bilingual team of social justice-focused LOKI Design and Fair Trade Media on our new logo, visual identity and website.  This is a critical, creative part of CWCF’s Strategic Plan and we are keen to share these elements with all of you in the new year. Given the challenge for our board and staff to reach consensus on the new look, the project launch has had some delays – but we believe you will find it was worth the wait!  In early 2020, we will again start to reach out to Worker Co-op members and Regional Federation members to check in via phone…

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Board Member Profile: Evan Proven, by Kenzie Love

CWCF is pleased to welcome Evan Proven of Sun Certified Builders Co-op to its board, acclaiming him as the new director for the Prairies at the recent AGM. A co-founder and longtime board member of Sun Certified, Evan has worked in the construction field for his entire career starting in concrete and moving on to wood framing, cabinet making, and super-insulated renovation and new home construction.  Evan achieved his Red Seal Endorsement in Carpentry in June of 2017, and is currently a Masters Candidate for the Management in Co-operatives and Credit Unions program at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. A married father of two and stepfather of two, Evan’s hobbies include beekeeping, gardening, cooking, snowboarding, sailing, and fixing things.  A strong believer in Co-op Principle 6 (co-operation among co-ops), Evan believes Sun Certified has benefited from the networking opportunities membership in CWCF has offered, and wants to continue fostering these…

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Atlantic Region – Making the Most of Meeting at the CWCF Annual Conference

By Eric Tusz-King The participants from the Atlantic region at the Annual Conference in Tatamagouche made good use of their caucus time.  They have developed a 3-part plan for promoting and supporting of worker co-ops in the region.  On December 4th ten of those participants and a few more from provincial associations of co-ops met to move their ideas into action plans for early in 2020. The overall goal of the plan is to develop and maintain of ecosystem for the support of worker co-ops.   This will include: networking among Atlantic CWCF members and allies at events and electronically; connecting with potentially interested individuals and groups who have common values to make them more aware of the worker co-op model for doing their work; and educating business organizations and governments on the value of the worker co-op model in general business development, but particularly in converting private businesses to worker…

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Update from the CICOPA Congress

(from the Winter 2019 issue of CICOPA Link) Last 13 October, in the framework of the ICA Global Conference in Kigali, CICOPA organized its Congress. For the occasion, members from all over the world elected their new President and the new board members for the renewed mandate 2019 – 2023.Iñigo Albizuri Landazabal, director of Institutional Relations at Mondragon Corporation in the Basque Country (Spain) was elected new president of CICOPA. Read the press release and a see the President’s short video declaration.Among the board members, some candidates have seen their mandate renewed and other joined for the first time. The new CICOPA Board is now composed of the following representatives: – Apolinar Ortiz Hernandez, CICOPA North America- Carlos Acero, CONFECOOP (Colombia)- Dov Orian, CNC (Mexico)- Esteban Kelly, USFWC (USA)- Giuseppe Guerini, CECOP – CICOPA Europe- Isabel Faubert Mailloux, CWCF (Canada)- Janusz Paszkowski, NAUWC (Poland)- Luis Alvez, CICOPA Americas- Myriam Baez Rojas, CONPACOOP (Paraguay)- Nicolas Pelichotti, CICOPA Mercosur- Nobuhiro Furumura, JWCU (Japan)- Olga Pegoraro, AGCI (Italy)- Rostislav Dvorak, SCMVD (Czech…

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London Brewing Releases Certified Organic Beers

With the release of two organic beers London Brewing becomes one of two independent craft breweries in Ontario who are certified to brew organic beer. The London Organic Lager is now available in local LCBOs and Beer Stores and the Front Porch Organic Session IPA will be hitting shelves before the end of November. These beers are also available on tap and in the brewery’s retail store at 521 Burbrook Place. With the motto of “worker-owned, locally grown”, the brewery has been leading the way in producing environmentally-friendly brews made with ingredients grown in Ontario. With the introduction of two certified organic beers they are giving more options to Londoners interested in making sustainable choices in their lives. What’s more, even if organic and local don’t pique the interest of all customers, the taste of the quality ingredients certainly will. As Jeff Pastorius, Sales Manager notes, “Most people haven’t tasted…

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Technical Assistance Program Accepting Applications

The Canadian Worker Co-op Federation (CWCF) offers grants to assist worker co-ops that are, or agree to become, members of CWCF to hire a co-op developer or other professional to help with a challenge that the co-op is facing. Assistance can be sought in any area needed such as marketing, financial administration, governance, conflict resolution, legal issues, etc.  There are currently several grants of up to $3500 available, and we encourage members — or prospective members — to apply for them. Recent recipients of the grants have put them to use in a wide range of areas. West Arm Woodworking, a fledgling co-op in Nelson, BC, sought the grant for assistance in drafting liability waivers for use of its workshop. The co-op worked with Vancouver lawyer Mary Childs to create the waivers, which worker-owner Danielle Soucie says was a crucial part of their operations. “It was definitely necessary and we’re…

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Welcome New Members!

CWCF is pleased to welcome three new members. Congratulations to Eyemole, Drivers Coalition, and Hypha! Eyemole Arts and Technology Co-operative, Vancouver:  Eyemole is a worker co-op that produces digital media and provides consulting services to values-aligned clients.  Services include app development, web design and development, augmented and virtual reality, graphic design, and more.  Drivers Coalition Worker Co-op, Edmonton:  Drivers Coalition Worker Co-op has recently incorporated, and it seeks to provide transport and moving services including truck repair and provision of parking and towing.  The Co-op does not yet have a website. Hypha Worker Co-op, Toronto, etc.:  Hypha is a tech worker co-operative offering web design, digital product development, research, and strategy services. With members located in Ontario, it seeks to cultivate collective growth and meaningful livelihoods through learning and building technologies together.

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How Co-ops Are Responding to Climate Change

As with all businesses, the climate crisis presents a challenge for worker co-ops, and at this point there may be as many questions as there are answers. But here’s a start at understanding some of the issues they face. How are co-ops uniquely positioned to respond to climate change? Co-ops’ unique ability to respond to climate change lies in their seven principles. Colin MacDougall of SSG, a co-op that works with cities, campuses, and institutions on climate planning, believes that coops are inherently prone to concern about climate change because of their concern for community, one of the seven principles. “When you allow democracy to sort of, you know flourish and lead decisions within the organization you’ll find that the type of problems that the organization looks to tackle will broaden a lot more and start to consider a lot more social considerations more than financial considerations,” he says.  This…

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