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One of the formative questions of the contemporary worker cooperative movement has been that of who the movement is for.  What group of people are included in the movement's organizations, have access the movement's resources, share and shape the movement's values and the campaigns around those values?  

 

At the opening gathering of the 4th bi-ennial conference of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, it was clear that the movement has reached a significant milestone. 

Melissa HooverAudience raising hands to indicate where they're from

Personally I am finding it very difficult to blog the conference, and I can’t imagine that it is easy for any of the folks who have volunteered to do this.
I am just going to briefly give my impressions and what seemed to me to be the highlights.  This was the first meeting I have attended, so I lack a lot of perspective.

 Hightower holding up his book

Jim Hightower is a man of very colorful language. 

"We have to get the hogs out of the creek" was Hightower's parting message in his keynote address at the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives on Friday, Aug. 6 at the San Francisco Women's Building. 

I think the hogs was the metaphor for cleaning out those muddying up what democracy is supposed to be. We need a grassroots movement to make change, to clean the creek.

I wasn't able to sit through the entire presentation, however, I wanted to capture as much as I could of this interesting presentation about the ability of labor unions and worker cooperatives to co-exist and to thrive.

The Toxic Soil Busters are a youth cooperative. These are "youth" in terms of age. They are located in Worchester, MA. They work to clean the soli of their community of the lead paint that was so heavily used by during the industrial age of this area. Since lead poisoning effects children in a more severe manner than adults (although still dangerous), this coop is essentially young people (non-adults) helping to clean the community of lead to help the generation behind them.

Saturday August 7, 2010 1:30pm USFWC Conference 2010 Berkeley

Workshop hosted by Wendy Orniston, LCSW and Arizmendi Association, and Bill Say (M.A.).

"How do we refashion ourselves as humans and deal with co-workers who either won't or can't refashion themselves."--Rebecca Kemble, Union Cab of Madison Cooperative and Director, US Federation of Worker Cooperatives

David Roach is doing incredibly important work in Oakland with Mo' Better Food, schools, intergenerational learning, farmer's markets, and other things.  He was our incredible improvisational tour guide of Oakland.

Call it the Oakland Improvizational Tour.  Or Oakland's Special Synchroncity Tour.  Or the Divine Flow of Oakland Tour.  Whatever you call it, you have got to call it Amazing!!

Attorney Greg Wilson gave a short presentation at the USFWC members meeting on the status of the IRS' audit of two worker cooperatives. The audit is making the claim that the cooperative businesses' patronage payments should be subject to employment tax - a reversal of strategy from their previous claim that cooperative workers' patronage should be subject to self-employment tax.

More information about this is available in several of Greg's online reports, including:

Ever run across this:

Lets be professional.  Lets not take it personally.

Most likely you have.  Maybe you see it as one of your better practices.  I woke up this morning gagging on it.

Ever run across this:

Let’s be professional.  Let’s not take it personally.

Most likely you have.  Maybe you see it as one of your better practices.  I woke up this morning gagging on it.

Ever run across this:

Let’s be professional.  Let’s not take it personally.

Most likely you have.  Maybe you see it as one of your better practices.  I woke up this morning gagging on it.

...we are coming to our national worker co-op conference sounding the theme that worker co-ops are the solution. My worry, however, is...
A brief introduction from John McNamara in preparation for the Worker Cooperative Conference.
A shadow is hanging over America, the shadow of a wrecked economic system. Tens of millions of unemployed remain despondent about ever finding a job again, an entire young generation despairing of any hope for a good life, while corporate market pundits pontificate that our system creates the best of all societies, and no alternative is possible. A nationwide group gathering in Berkeley this coming weekend is putting the lie to the pundits.
Evergreen Cooperative Laundry managers take ACE conference attendees on a tour of the facility. CEO Jim Anderson gives a workshop on the cooperatives.

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