U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives Annual Report, 2005.
Has it already been a year since over 300 enthusiastic cooperators gathered in Minneapolis to found a national federation under the watchful eye of the Hubert Humphrey portrait at the University of Minnesota?
Yes, the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives is a year old! Itís been a busy year, one thatís about to get a lot more fun as the Federation starts taking on nationwide members this fall and becomes truly a federation of worker cooperatives.
Last May the conference elected a board of directors to handle the work of getting started and set some general priorities. Since then, that board has been busy laying the groundwork of our new federation. Here are some highlights of our work:
- The USFWC has joined CICOPA, the international organization of worker cooperatives! We will be a voting member in time for the September conference in Cartagena, Columbia.
- We expect to have the Federation incorporated this fall and plan on filing for federal recognition as both a 501(c)6 membership and a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. After researching the options, the board chose this dual structure to allow for maximum flexibility: the two entities enable us to do political advocacy work and receive tax-exempt donations and grant funding.
- The USFWC has a website: check out www.usworker.coop, hosted by Electric Embers. Soon weíll add a "Forum" discussion feature and a jobs posting board.
- In March we hired staff member Melissa Hoover for 10 hours a week to do planning, outreach, meeting facilitation, fundraising and more fundraising, and other foundational work. Melissa lives in San Francisco, has worked in co-ops for several years, and has experience with financial planning, bookkeeping and fundraising. Melissa has been invaluable in helping board members stay on track as we juggle personal lives, jobs, and other commitments.
- The Federation plans to begin accepting members in October, 2005. Right now, we are creating a dues structure, application, and member services. Once those are in place, we start the exciting work of building membership and making the Federation a reality. Get ready to join!
- We are negotiating with the National Organizers Alliance to provide their "Sustaining Social Justice" pension plan to all USFWC member co-ops. We are also researching health plans, group purchasing plans, a co-op loan fund, and advisory services for members.
- The board is now conducting a survey of U.S. worker cooperatives to create a national database. We plan to collaborate with GEO and several other groups to produce a current printed and online directory of worker cooperatives by Fall 2006.
- Board members Ajamu Nangwaya and Ajowa Nzinga Ifateyo appealed in a paper to the Kwanzaa community in late 2004 to make education about, and building of, cooperatives a concrete expression of Cooperative Economics, a principle of Kwanzaa, an African American cultural observance.
- A video recording of CICOPA general secretary Rainer Schluterís popular keynote address at the founding conference will be available this fall for $10 per copy.
- Weíve started planning the second bi-annual national conference. Location and fall í06 date TBA. The conference is a chance for worker-owners share skills from their workplaces and for people doing different regional work to meet in person, share strategies, and hook up with technical assistance providers. It will also be an opportunity to further strengthen and build the national worker cooperative movement.
This past year has also seen new regional activity in Portland, Olympia, Minnesota, the Bay Area and the South. This is an exciting time to be involved with the worker cooperative movement!
In the months ahead, you will be hearing more from the U.S. Federation. To tell us what you think, find out more about the U.S. Federation, request information about regional and international organizing efforts, or to donate to the Federation, contact Melissa at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-379-9201 or 1995 Oak St. #7, San Francisco, CA 94117.
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