About Member Councils (passed 2.10.11)
The USFWC has an entity for membership participation called Member Council(s). Member Councils can be convened by members for any purpose that supports the USFWC’s work – all they have to do is state the scope of their work, the reason they exist and what their activities will be. USFWC staff will receive and coordinate requests for the process of establishing a member council within the scope of the budgeted staff time. Member Councils are discussion groups, but have some formal standing and can communicate to the Board and Membership as the “council/counsel.”
Member Councils do not get any budget from USFWC, but they are entitled to an allotted amount of staff time to support their work; the Board of Directors will approve an annual labor hour cap to be spent on Member Council activity. Member Council effectiveness will be considered/re-considered annually when the cap on the allotment of staff hours is approved by the Board of Directors.
Member Councils cannot represent the USFWC publically or legally (without express prior consent). If done so, legal action may be taken and would be at the discretion of the Board. In such an event, USFWC Board of Directors will act in good faith, doing their due diligence in reviewing the matter for cause of economic or other harm to the organization, without abusing the powers of their leadership. This policy replaces all previous “Working Group” notation and/or policies.
Name of the Council:
UnionCo-ops Council of U.S. Federation of Worker Co-ops (UCC/USFWC)
Mission/Statement of Purpose:
To explore opportunities for collaboration with labor unions for mutual benefit.
Unions and worker cooperatives have the same goal, to improve the life of workers. Unions create workplace democracy, and in the larger picture, economic democracy through bargaining with employers. A worker cooperative is an alternative that reaches outside of the limitations of this model, converting workplaces into democratically run institutions owned by the workers. Working together they can create an economy that works for the 99%.
Possible benefits to unions:
• Possible new network of dynamic members with social vision about worker ownership, and skills in collaborative decision-making;
• Connections in international fair trade and socially conscious business, worldwide;
• Growing union membership
Possible benefits to co-ops:
• Access to benefits including pension and health care benefits;
• Solidarity with the union movement on social benefits to workers such as advocacy on workers rights, and health care reform
• Access to capital for co-op formation;
Possible benefits to both co-ops and unions:
• Advocacy for a US employee ownership bank through legislation currently being sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders, to benefit all workers.
1- Form a UnionCo-ops Committee—done
2- Strengthen the UnionCo-ops Council—on-going
3- Upgrade record keeping and resources—on-going
4- Monitor and report on union/co-op activities and opportunities—monthly conference calls
5- Reach out to labor —on-going
6- Reach out to worker co-ops —on-going
7- Educate producer and consumer co-ops about the role of unions in their shops—this is a new goal
8- Develop funding strategies—we haven’t done much on this
Proposed activities for this year:
1- Upgrade the website
2- Upgrade the Resources/Outreach Toolkit section of the website
3- Help plan and present workshops on unions and co-ops at labor and co-op conferences
4- Identify labor unions that could provide benefits to worker co-ops
5- Encourage submission of worker co-op resolutions to labor organizations
6- Encourage UCC/USFWC participants to become members of USFWC
7- Report regularly to the USFWC board and membership
Will the council have a convener(s)? How will it conduct its business (email, meetings, discussion, voting, etc)?
Co-Chairs = Mary Hoyer (ECWD etc) and Liz Ryder (AFSCME)
Notetakers = Ed Whitfield and Alexandria Jones (Fund for Democratic Communities)
Listserve Maintenance = Bob Noble (Keystone Devt Center etc)
General Rabblerouser = Frank Adams (the one and only)
Communication is by email and conference call, as well as in-person meetings at conferences. Business is mostly conducted via discussion, with participants interested in specific aspects of the Council’s work volunteering between calls. A variety of people have organized and presented workshops around the country, offered limited technical assistance support to nascent worker co-ops, worked on Council goals and objectives, etc.
What is the benefit to USFWC member workplaces of this council’s work?
Possible connection to unions for benefits (health, etc)
Increase in USFWC membership
Increase in resources (funding and facilitation) for worker co-op development
Number of staff support hours requested this year:
As many as possible? Need help with website, possibly research
Proposed reporting schedule and format:
1- Minutes of monthly calls sent to USFWC Executive Director and President, as well as any other designated associate(s)
2- Verbal and/or printed reports at annual board meetings
3- Occasional USFWC newsletter submissions
Agreement: The members of this council understand that they are responsible to the USFWC as a member-led institution, and are accountable to the member-elected Board of Directors. They agree to the established channels of participation in the organization, including an annual renewal-of-charter process and reporting regularly on their activities in a manner that invites feedback and input.