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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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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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