Worker Co-op Week sessions were made to inspire with topics ranging from carrying on the legacy of Black cooperative visionaries and recruiting the next generation of the homecare cooperative workforce, to discovering financial tools for immigrant workers and securing health care for worker co-ops and more. These sessions were curated by and for worker-owners and cooperative movement builders to both meet our current needs on the road to a just pandemic recovery, and foster our communities’ shared prosperity.
Day 1 of Worker Co-op Week will be closed by a Keynote Panel address featuring a conversation between special guests U.S. Representative Jamaal Bowman of New York's 16th Congressional District and sci fi writer & housing justice organizer, Rasheedah Phillips of Policy Link and the Black Quantum Futurism artist collective, moderated by AORTA worker-owner and USFWC Executive Director Esteban Kelly. Aside from the engaging session and keynote content, the conference is a space for worker co-op movement builders to connect, discuss and engage with shared values through a virtual film screening and to celebrate one another’s hard-fought achievements at the 2021 Worker Co-op Awards.
Session Block 1 丨12pm ET / 11am CT / 9am PT
Artists and culture bearers are searching for viable alternatives to the traditional models of cultural production that keep resources and power out of the hands of the workers. This huge labor force is growing in its awareness of the new economy, and because of projects like Guilded, Art.coop, and Anticapitalism for Artists, there's a wave of interest in the worker co-op model. Yet because of the co-op field's focus on traditionally profitable businesses, we are underprepared to support and develop many of these new cooperative ventures. These new cooperators need support from people who speak "art" and "cooperative" to see that success is possible.In this session, participants will have a chance to hear about the successes, challenges, and different business models of four arts and culture worker cooperatives working in four different fields. Each co-op will share a tool or resource that helped them get to where they are today, and there will be an opportunity for Q&A with each co-op.
Joanna White-Oldham, emerging Director
Bryan Chang, Meerkat Media
Brian Van Slyke, TESA Collective
Daniel Park, Obvious Agency & USFWC Project Coordinator
Open-book management will take different forms in each organization but serves the common goal of teaching members to act like owners.
This session will cover the basics of what is in a Profit & Loss statement, as well as how members can find themselves in their co-op's financial statements, and how that knowledge will help them personally build a stronger, more sustainable cooperative. We will practice co-creating budgets and sharing other financial information using QuickBooks. Participants will leave this workshop with a clear understanding of the principles used in the process of OBM, and tools for implementation.
Mavery L. Davis, CPA
Tamah Yisrael, Cooperation New Orleans
Aaron Dawson, The Industrial Commons
Language: English & Spanish
This panel of attorneys from the Cooperative Professionals Guild will offer legal perspectives on how cooperatives can embed cooperative values into their organizational foundations, structures, practices and documents. This session will provide more knowledge and tools on how to promote cooperative principles even in the most difficult situations, such as internal conflicts and financial decisions.
Pacyinz Lyfoung, Attorney and worker-owner at crowdwork.coop
Thomas Beckett, Cooperative Professionals Guild
Terry Lewis, Center for Community Based Enterprise
Kathy Gregg, Massachusetts Business Attorney and Legal Fellow at the Sustainable Economies Law Center
Session Block 2 丨2pm ET / 1pm CT / 11am PT
Language: English & Spanish
This workshop is designed for Worker Owners who are part of an LLC (not taxed as a corporation). We will offer templates and describe how establishing a clear owner's pay system can help a cooperative have sustainable financial practices. Moreover, we will go over how worker owners can stay compliant with federal and state taxes so that they avoid complications with the IRS.
Emma Yorra & Iliana Reinhart, Wholehearted Bookkeeping
Language: English & Spanish
We choose cooperative practices as a response and alternative to harmful power dynamics based on white supremacist organizational cultures. However, this takes unlearning old ways and using new tools created for sharing power. Join members of Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance, Cooperation New Orleans, Round Sky Solutions, Green Worker Cooperatives, and Seed Commons peers to dive into the ways that implicit and explicit power dynamics show up in cooperative work from the perspective of both worker owners and cooperative developers.
In this session, you’ll hear from experienced cooperators about how they understand, analyze, and shift power dynamics that show up in cooperatives using Round Sky’s tool, the Power Matrix, and other power analysis tools. You’ll also have a chance to reflect and share your own experiences with power and explore how to shift unhealthy dynamics to better actualize cooperative principles. You can expect to hear lessons learned and experiences confronting and shaping power.
Jeanette Cuevas & Annette Griffin, Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (PACA)
Tamah Yisrael, Cooperation New Orleans
Lila Arnaud, worker-owner of BanchaLenguas Cooperative
Rebecca Fisher-McGinty, worker-owner at Round Sky Solutions Cooperative
Danielle LeBlanc, Greenworker Cooperatives
The Offers & Needs Market is a rapid 90 minute skill and need matching workshop designed to quickly move people through a round of expressing what they have and are willing to offer up to others within the room along with what value they anticipate receiving. This is followed by a successive round during which participants are encouraged to reflect upon and express the things they need which may not have been addressed by the initial round of offers.
Mike Strode, Kola Nut Collaborative
Social Hour丨 4pm ET / 3pm CT / 1pm PT
During this time, Worker Co-op Week participants are invited to connect with colleagues, meet new cooperators and expand their network of mutual support. There will be open virtual spaces to connect with others that align with shared affinities, projects or industries. Stay tuned for more information about the structures social spaces we'll be hosting!
Keynote Panel: Beyond Wakanda– Can Hubs of Workplace Democracy Catalyze Communal Futures?丨5pm ET / 4pm CT / 2pm PT
Our keynote presentation premiers a conversation between U.S. Representative Jamaal Bowman of New York's 16th Congressional District, AORTA worker-owner and USFWC Executive Director Esteban Kelly, and sci fi writer & housing justice organizer, Rasheedah Phillips of Policy Link and the Black Quantum Futurism artist collective. Together they'll explore how compelling visions of a liberated future can inspire today's actions for building community wealth through cooperative ownership and governance. Congressman Bowman is the lead sponsor of the Green New Deal for Public Schools, and a supporter of bills that link innovation with cooperative development. The conversation will also feature activist co-op members in dialogue about local organizing and multi-racial strategies for meaningful change toward a post-capitalist future.
About Rep. Jamaal Bowman:
Congressman Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D., represents New York’s 16th District, which includes the Northern Bronx and parts of Westchester County, including Yonkers, New Rochelle, and Mount Vernon. Bowman was born and raised in New York City, spending his early years in public housing and rent-controlled apartments, raised by his working-class single mother. Bowman began his career as a crisis intervention teacher in a Bronx public school and went on to earn a doctorate in education from Manhattanville College.
In 2009, Bowman founded Cornerstone Academy for Social Action, a Bronx middle school focused on unlocking the natural brilliance of all children through a holistic curriculum, where he served as principal for a decade. At CASA, Bowman worked to center students’ voices, cultural awareness, and love. He has been an outspoken advocate for rethinking education, including ending state-sanctioned yearly standardized testing.
Bowman was elected to Congress in 2020, and has since been dedicated to passing visionary policy that infuses climate justice with economic and racial justice, and to highlighting the importance of research and investing communities of color.
Bowman lives in Yonkers, New York, with his wife and children.
About Rasheedah Phillips:
Rasheedah Phillips currently serves as the Managing Attorney of Housing Policy at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, has been a fearless legal advocate for tenants rights and childcare at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia since 2008.
Phillips began her career in the Community Economic Development Unit, community lawyering on behalf of small childcare and she has since trained on racial justice and housing law issues and skills throughout the country. Rasheedah is a 2016 Shriver Center’s Racial Justice Institute Fellow, 2018 Atlantic Fellow for Racial Equity, 2020 Givelber Distinguished Public Interest Lecturer, and a 2021 Ambassador for Health Equity with PolicyLink. She has won numerous other awards for her work toward advancing racial justice and health equity through her teachings and continues to show us her vision of Queer liberation through her AfroFuturist interdisciplinary art.
Phillips’ writing has appeared in Keywords for Radicals, Temple Political and Civil Right Journal, The Funambulist Magazine and more. Phillips is the founder of The AfroFuturist Affair, a founding member of Metropolarity Queer Speculative Fiction Collective, co-founder of Black Quantum Futurism, and co-creator of Community Futures Lab. As part of BQF and as a solo artist, Phillips is currently a CERN Artist Resident, Vera List Center Fellow, Knight Art + Tech Fellow, a former Pew and A Blade of Grass fellow, and the breadth of her art has been experienced from Philadelphia to London.
Screening of The Big Scary “S” Word 丨 7:30pm ET / 6:30pm CT / 4:30pm PT
We are honored to be able to offer a virtual screening of Yael Bridge's The Big Scary "S" Word, which "delves into the rich history of the American socialist movement and journeys with the people striving to build a socialist future today."
After the screening, we will be joined in conversation by Director Yael Bridge, Zara Serabian-Arthur and Eric Phillips-Horst from the production team at Worker Co-op Meerkat Media as well as film-featured guest, USFWC Board president Ricardo Nuñez to answer questions and engage with the themes in the film.
We invite you to watch the screening and share your live thoughts and questions:
- On Twitter tagging @usfwc and @socialismmovie, using the hashtag #WorkerCoopWeek
- On our public Worker Co-op Slack in the #workercoopweek2021 channel
We look forward to experiencing the history of Socialism in the U.S. and the ties to the worker co-op movement with you all Wednesday night!
Session Block 3 丨12pm ET / 11am CT / 9am PT
Today’s Black co-op developers are part of a long Black radical tradition throughout the African diaspora. Hear some of their stories as community organizers who turned to cooperatives as tools for Black self determination in the face of systemic racism, racialized capitalism and gender discrimination. Witness an intimate conversation between noted Black co-op developers from New York City, Jackson, and Minneapolis as they reflect on their years organizing Black-led worker cooperatives. Hear their challenges, joys, and lessons learned as they share their stories.
This session is named in honor of Ella Baker, the renowned organizer and backbone of many of the leading organizations of the Civil Rights movement. Her focus on group centered leadership, participatory democracy, and leadership development were grounded in her early history organizing Black cooperatives throughout the US. We are sitting at her table.
Omar Freilla, Collective Diaspora
Sacajawea Hall, Cooperation Jackson Co-founder
Danielle Mkali, Nexus Community Partners
With an aging workforce entering retirement at record rates, cooperative businesses need to plan more intentionally for recruitment, onboarding, and retention of millennial and gen z workers. What are some strategies to attract young workers and to incentivize them to stay on as cooperators? Specifically, what can we learn from an industry with an exponentially growing worker shortage with many workers over the age of 50? We'll explore these questions in a case study of a home healthcare co-op where many agencies are working on attracting and keeping younger caregivers. Nora Edge, General Manager of Capital Homecare Cooperative will speak to her experience as a millennial caregiver, and her success with attracting and retaining this new generation of caregivers.
Nora Edge, General Manager of Capital Homecare Cooperative
Language: English & Spanish
Join Membership Director of the USFWC Ana Martina and Metric & Impact Analyst of the Democracy At Work Institute (DAWI) Olga Prushinskaya for a presentation of results from the last Worker Co-op Enterprise Census. They will share current statistics and trends they identified from data on over 100 cooperative businesses in the U.S. and Puerto Rico during the pandemic as well as answer questions and solicit feedback on the data collection and surveying process.
Ana Martina Rivas, Colmenar Consulting Co-founder & USFWC Technical Assistance Manager
Olga Prushinskaya, Democracy at Work (DAWI) Metric & Impact Analyst
Session Block 4 丨2pm ET / 1pm CT / 11am PT
Language: English & Spanish
How can we make sure our accounting and finance systems enable us to make good decisions as a group? How do we calculate patronage and profit sharing? How do internal capital accounts work? What should worker-owners know about PPP loan forgiveness? How does this affect worker-owners of LLC co-ops vs employee-owners of co-ops?
Do you have cooperative bookkeeping and accounting questions?
A Bookkeeping Cooperative and Wegner CPAs will lead a session illustrating some basic financial concepts shaped by the specific challenges and curiosities you're facing in your cooperative. This will be an interactive session facilitating the sharing of the collective wisdom among participants. Bring your coop financial questions!
Alex Fischer, Lauryl Berger-Chun and Veronica Dougherty, A Bookkeeping Cooperative
Bruce Mayer, Wegner CPAs
Language: English & Spanish
Our lives have been profoundly impacted by the covid-19 crisis (alongside many other concurrent crises, especially climate catastrophe). Worker co-ops tend to fare better in hard times compared to traditional businesses, but how do we make sure we are caring for ourselves and our co-workers as difficult conditions intensify? In this session, we will share some of the policies and adaptations AORTA has adopted over the past year in order to support worker well-being in these pandemic times.
Kate Eubank, Dana Pedersen & Sunny Dakota Spencer, AORTA
How can you self-organize to get things done, and avoid the traps of power-over that permeate so many organizations? How can you make decisions using power-with, and where everyone’s voice counts? How can you include the heart in decision-making? Worker-owners in a co-op expect to have a voice in company decisions. But without a transparent structure for doing so, disappointments, frustration, resentment, or just plain resignation can set in. People can lose heart!
Join this experiential workshop on the basics of the Sociocratic Circle-organization Method (SCM). The SCM is a whole-systems approach to collaborative decision-making, project management, and organizational governance. The approach creates a more inclusive, effective, self-managing culture, where good ideas can come from any part of the organization. Cooperatives and a variety of other organizations of all sizes worldwide use the method. The basic principles of sociocracy map well to the Rochdale Cooperative Principles.
In this workshop, we’ll engage in small-group exercises and a demonstration so everyone can experience a few meeting processes of the SCM. You will learn about how to (a) clarify who decides what, (b) make collaborative decisions with everyone’s input – and without taking all day and all night – and (c) create productive and (usually) enjoyable meetings that can hold heartful discussions. At the end of the workshop you will know whether sociocracy is right for you, and will have a few new tools you can use immediately.
Sheella Mierson, Sociocracy Consulting Group
Session Block 5 丨4pm ET / 3pm CT / 1pm PT
Conflict among worker cooperatives is inevitable, but people do not have to be harmed in the process. Unfortunately, there is often a contradiction between cooperative structure and cooperative approaches to conflict, which sometimes replicate toxic responses often exhibited in traditional companies. This session invites a discussion on some the practical ways that lawyers and developers are supporting worker cooperatives in their responses to conflict. It will begin by framing the conversation around healing justice and restorative justice frameworks, before collaboratively discussing best practices as seen among moderator and participants.
Julian Hill, Solidarity Economy Lawyer
The first question that comes to mind when vetting any software—“is it free?” And I am not asking whether it costs money. I am asking whether it respects my software freedoms and privacy. There are communities and individuals building free/libre software all over the world who welcome ideas, input, and feedback from anyone who looks at it. The time is ripe for all kinds of services to spring up and offer you the tools you will need to be successful in your online venture, and it is up to us to all learn to guide this process. As a tech cooperative, we use and develop a lot of software. We do not take this responsibility lightly. It is up to us to ensure that our technology treats us and our clients well.
Some of the questions we will answer are: How can I tell if a web host, service or product is ethical? How do I find tech support for a free software product?
During our session, you will learn how best to vet a software product or an online service to assure that it protects your privacy and how to build a relationship with the people supplying the product or service. Of course, nothing is foolproof or written in stone and each relationship will be slightly different, yet some of the same principles will apply. There is nothing geeky or tricky about the process of getting support for free software, it is just a different process than going to a Corporation's help desk, genius bar, or calling a phone number to receive tech support. Free software support is more like a community effort and we all learn from each other as we go.
Micky Metts, Agaric Technology Collective, MayFirst Movement Technology, Platform Cooperativism and The Center for Global Justice and Greater Boston Chamber of Cooperatives member
Chris Thomson, software programmer
Keegan Rankin, software programmer & cooperative advocate
Worker Co-op Awards Ceremony 丨7pm ET / 6pm CT / 4pm PT
Session Block 6 丨12pm ET / 11am CT / 9am PT
Language: English & Spanish
Hear from the members of the USFWC Union Co-ops Council, as they share their successes, challenges, learnings, practical hands-on tools and resources for building thriving union worker cooperatives. The panelists will cover:
- how to work with unions as partners from day one as you convert unionized businesses to worker owned cooperatives
- how our labor partners can serve as a frontline early warning network for companies at risk of a succession crisis a.k.a good potential targets for conversions
- how to start new union worker cooperatives from scratch with labor partners
- tested tools for union co-op work, including union co-op development and culture curriculums
John McNamara, Northwest Cooperative Development Center, CooperationWorks! & Chair of the USFWC Union Co-ops Council
Rebecca Lurie, City University of NY School for Labor and Urban Studies, USFWC Union Co-ops Council Executive Committee member, DAWI Board of Directors
Ellen Vera, Co-op Cincy
Lis Ryder, SEIU & AFSCME labor organizer, Co-founder of the USFWC Union Co-ops Council
Flequer Vera, CEO of Sustainergy Cooperative
Language: English & Spanish
This session is for anyone who may need to borrow money and raise capital for their business. Participants will learn
1) what kind of money they might need for their business
2) how lenders and investors evaluate a loan request
3) how to be sure that the worker-owners maintain control of their capital
4) how the cooperative can best prepare for and represent themselves through the borrowing process.
We will explore healthy lending practices and how debt has been used historically to extract wealth from communities. Lending and investing often involves exploitation and theft. We will attempt to unpack some of these dynamics and identify ways in which the cooperative members can take control of their financing needs. This session will involve presentation and facilitated discussion.
Mark Fick, Senior Loan Officer with Capital Impact Partners
Samantha Bailey, Loan Officer with Capital Impact Partners
Many observers have pointed to the Emilia Romagna region of Italy and Mondragón in Spain as examples of the potential of the co-operative model. Right here in the U.S. worker co-ops are building stronger impact and achieving their missions together through intercooperation. This panel discussion of many examples of regional associations will be followed by a significant Q and A designed to assist attendees in joining or building their own association.
Panelists will discuss their origin story, the "why" as well as "how" they organized, the successes and challenges of their respective models and more. Panelists will include NYC NoWC, MadWorC, Valley Alliance of Worker Co-operatives and more.
Adam Trott, Executive Director of Valley Alliance of Worker Cooperatives
Esther West, USFWC Northern Regional Board Representative
Session Block 7 丨2pm ET / 1pm CT / 11am PT
Language: English & Spanish
This session will dig into the details regarding how employee-owned businesses can assess the quality of the jobs that they offer, and provide a framework for employee owners to evaluate goals and next steps toward improving job quality.
Consultants from Project Equity will give a short presentation that provides an overview of the session framework and the components of quality jobs. Then, participants will be divided into Zoom breakout rooms in which they will work together to define a "quality job" from their perspective, assess their business’ current state of job quality, and create a vision and strategy for the future. This interactive session will leave participants more equipped and empowered to improve the workplaces in which they are employee-owners.
Eric Medrano & Patty Viafara, Project Equity
Our movements for freedom thrive when we share and develop knowledge together. This work is a loving response to the urgent need for greater cooperation, education, and self-governance in Solidarity Economy (SE) and co-operative organizing at all levels. SE organizing, whether it is within a single group or a federation of groups, is developed through study, reflection, and practice. We learn from what we have in common, and we learn just as much from our differences. We invite you to this workshop to learn more and practice the craft of solidarity economy creation.
Rebecca Kemble, Union Cab Coop, MadWorC, former USFWC Board President
Esther West, Ajani Co-op, MadWorC, USFWC Northern Regional Board Representative
Session Block 8 丨 4pm ET / 3pm CT / 1pm PT
Wondering where to start with health insurance for workers? Should you look into a group plan? What about individual health insurance subsidies? What about the small employer health insurance tax credit? What's the SHOP requirement? What's the meaning of QSEHRA & ICHRA? Can it be used with individual insurance subsidies?
We'll answer these questions and more, and try to arrange an "order of operations" to these thoughts to give the process some form of how to approach the idea of providing health insurance through the business.
Maddie Taterka, USFWC Worker Benefits Program Manager
Matthew Tae, Health Insurance Broker / Business Consultant
Para algunes miembres de distintas cooperativas y/o Empresas de Responsabilidad Limitada (LLC, por sus siglas en inglés) y cooperativas de "publicidad", quizás ustedes habrán visto en sus ingresos de impuestos por haber trabajado por su cuenta propia cada vez que tengan que declarar sus impuestos. Si usted no se prepara de antemano o no paga sus impuestos a tiempo, se quedará sorprendide sobre la cantidad que debe en impuestos.
En este taller, se aprenderá cómo se calculan los impuestos en los Estados Unidos, incluyendo cómo funcionan las deducciones y los créditos y cómo estos pueden ayudarle a reducir la cantidad de impuestos que usted debe de pagar. Hablaremos sobre cómo hacer un estimado de pago trimestral para evitar que usted llegue a deber una cantidad grande de impuestos al final de año. Habrá mucho tiempo para preguntas y dudas.
Erika Perez Esteban, USFWC Local Chapter Organizer Massachussets, Freelance Interpreter