Report from the Executive Director, October 2021

By Hazel Corcoran

Worker Co-op Conference Highlights and Award Winners/ Racial Justice and Worker Co-ops/ Worker Co-op Academy / Indivisible Reserves Webinar

CWCF is in the middle of a busy fall, a highlight of which will be our upcoming Conference, Building Better Together, taking place November 16-18.  There is an exciting line-up of speakers, and there truly is no substitute for the kinds of exchanges possible among worker co-operators and supporters at these events. The sessions will cover the State of the Worker Co-op Movement and Showing the Way, Peer Learning, Co-op Conversions, Racial Justice, Financing your WC, and Marketing for Worker Co-ops.  The session with the AGM will include Award presentations, and we are thrilled to share that this year’s winners are Eric Tusz-King for his myriad contributions to the movement, and London Brewing Co-op, for their pioneering work in becoming certified organic and locally focused!  We are pleased to have confirmed speakers and facilitators for several of our sessions, and since this is a free, online, and bilingual event, we encourage everyone with an interest in Canada’s worker co-op movement to attend.  You must register to attend, and can register here.  Please see the article in this newsletter for more details.

CWCF’s “JEDDI” (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Decolonization, and Inclusion) Committee remains hard at work, and is excited to have a draft action plan to guide our efforts towards creating a worker co-operative movement in Canada which is racially diverse, inclusive and just, evidenced by more participation by racialized people in the worker co-op movement. To this end, we will be featuring a Conference presentation by our JEDDI Committee and others on practical tools to build real diversity, inclusion, and racial justice. The lens will be the needed cultural shift in the co-op movement.  We are also inviting conference participants to attend the Freedom Dreams Education Co-op Workshop, Nourishing Belonging: Forging Co-operation in Food and Farming, taking place the evening of November 17.

The three groups participating in our Worker Co-op Academy are entering the final weeks of this program, with participants offering positive feedback and noting that CWCF has provided excellent materials, resources and videos. We’ve also received constructive suggestions for improvement that we look forward to incorporating into future iterations of the Academy. We’re eager to hear their pitch presentation and receive the final versions of the groups’ business plans in the weeks ahead.

We hosted a well-attended webinar on indivisible reserves on October 6, presented by Prof. Sonja Novkovic of Saint Mary’s University, with me speaking to CWCF’s position on indivisible reserves (formulated after member consultations) as well as how to include indivisible reserves into a worker co-op’s constitution and bookkeeping systems. Participants had a diversity of views on various issues related to this topic, but there seemed to be agreement that indivisible reserves are an important factor to consider in creating a healthy co-op sector.  Indivisible reserves strengthen both individual worker co-ops and the worker co-op movement.  It was emphasized that they act exactly like other reserves and can be used like any other capital while a co-op is operating, and only come into play upon dissolution or sale, acting as a disincentive to demutualizing.  Thanks to Prof. Novkovic for her excellent presentation, and also to Joey Pittoello of Just Us! for suggesting the webinar on this topic.  The PowerPoint presentations from this session are available here.