U. S. Federation of Worker Co-ops
of the U. S. FEDERATION of WORKER CO-OPS
Report June 2012
M. Hoyer to USFWC Annual Member Meeting in Boston
In July 2007, the UnionCo-ops Committee was conceptualized at the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy (ECWD) in Asheville, North Carolina. Later in 2007, the committee began meeting monthly by conference call, reporting back to the Eastern Coordinating Council (the board of the ECWD). In 2008, the committee moved from under the umbrella of the ECWD to the
U. S. Federation of Worker Co-ops, since committee members were spread across the country.
Since its founding the committee has:
- expanded its listserve to interested parties from twenty-three states and Canada;
- set committee goals and tasks;
- set up a wiki website for document sharing;
- established a four-member steering committee for the group;
- collected articles on union/co-ops collaboration and history;
- sponsored a series of conference calls with Frank Adams, using his book, Putting Democracy to Work: A Practical Guide for Starting Worker-Owned Businesses, as a guide;
- begun compiling on on-line Outreach Toolkit that local activists and cooperators can use to present worker co-op information at labor and community economic development conferences;
- begun composing case studies of worker co-op/union collaborations;
- shared a labor resolution for presentation to unions and labor agencies to initiate research into worker cooperatives as a strategy for job creation and union membership;
- researched health, pension, and other benefits for worker co-ops;
- planned and facilitated yearly union/co-op workshops at the U.S. Federation of Worker Co-ops and ECWD conferences;
- provided support to an emerging incubator of worker co-ops in Oklahoma;
- established a relationship with Rob Witherell, principal in the United Steel Workers collaboration with Mondragon;
- presented worker co-op workshops at the BlueGreen Alliance Good Jobs Green Jobs regional conferences in Philadelphia and Detroit in 2012;
- worked with AFSCME in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on a possible bid from workers re privatized parking meters in 2012; and
- reported annually to ECWD and USFWC. In the fall of 2011, we reported to CICOPA North America at that organization’s founding conference in Quebec City.
In July 2007, the Union / Co-ops Committee was conceptualized at the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy (ECWD) in Asheville, North Carolina. A resolution to form the committee was introduced by conference participant and presenter Frank Adams, and passed there. Terry Daniels volunteered to act as facilitator to pull the committee together.
In October 2007, the committee began meeting monthly by conference call, reporting back to the Eastern Coordinating Council (ECC; the board of the ECWD). The committee began by collecting articles on the history of union/co-op collaboration and discussing committee goals and tasks.
All members of the committee did outreach to union and the worker co-op community, including co-op members as well as technical assistance people who might be interested.
In early 2008, Lisa Stolarski assumed the role of committee chair and Liz Ryder set up a wiki website for document sharing (unioncoops.wikispaces.com).
In mid 2008, the committee planned and facilitated two union/co-op workshops at the U.S. Federation of Worker Co-ops (USFWC) conference in New Orleans. The workshops included: A Panel discussion of Unions and Worker Cooperatives called “Unions and Worker Co-ops: Stronger Together”, A “Green-Union-Coops” Workshop which attempted to bring together unions and coops to discuss the creation of Green-Union-Coop jobs, and a Roundtable Discussion of Unions and Worker Cooperatives. At this conference, the committee was transferred from ECWD to USFWC, since committee members were spread across the country.
In late 2008, the committee began researching health, pension, and other benefits for worker co-ops, speaking with various labor organizations to see if worker co-ops could piggy back on existing programs.
In the winter and spring of 2009, a series of conference calls sponsored by the committee were held with Frank Adams, using his book, Putting Democracy to Work: A Practical Guide for Starting Worker-Owned Businesses, as a guide.
In mid 2009, the committee planned and facilitated two union/co-op workshops, including “Unions and Co-ops: Current Activities” at ECWD in Pittsburgh, and benefits research continued. In September 2009, Mary Hoyer and Liz Ryder replaced Lisa as committee co-chairs.
Committee member Steve Hughes, with fellow AFSCME members at Council 75, put forth a proposal to “Grow Unions without a Fight” by incubating co-ops using a micro-lending model that would then become union members. Committee member Grant Swanson put forth a Union/Co-op resolution before the state of Oregon AFL-CIO convention that was passed. From this template, other resolutions have been discussed in other states, as far across the country as Maine.
In 2010, the Union/Co-op subcommittee decided to put together an Outreach Toolkit that local activists and cooperators can use to present worker co-op information at labor and community economic development conferences. Although this Toolkit is still in formation, Grant Swanson of AFSCME Oregon provided both a labor resolution and power point presentation that others can use. At the 2010 National Convention of AFSCME in Boston, Union/Co-op Subcommittee Grant Swanson put forth a union/co-op resolution, which was taken under consideration by the Executive Committee.
At the 2010 Conference of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives in Berkeley, the committee members planned and facilitated two workshops, including:Worker Co-ops as a Strategy for Labor and Health and Retirement Benefits for Worker Cooperatives.
The wiki website was expanded significantly and all relevant documents were posted, including the committee goals and objectives, agendas, minutes, articles, etc.