Union Co-ops Council Webinar

The Union Co-ops Council of the US Federation of Worker Co-ops and marketing sponsors
Co-op Cincy, Community and Worker Ownership Project, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies, Northwest Co-op Development Center, Los Angeles Union Co-op Initiative, 1 Worker: 1 Vote, Wellspring Labor Co-ops Committee, Western Massachusetts Area Labor Federation, Temple University Small Business Development Center, Democracy at Work invite you to attend a free Zoom webinar:

Why Worker Co-ops Should Matter to Labor Unions

Friday, February 12th, 2021 at 18.00 GMT (1:00 to 2:15 EST; 12:00 CST; 11:00 MST; 10:00 PST)  


  • John McNamara / Northwest Co-op Development Center;
  • Lis Ryder / Los Angeles Union Co-op Initiative;
  • Tim Palmer, union organizer;
  • Ra Criscitiello / Service Employees International Union

Registration link: https://info.usworker.coop/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=413 

ILO adds a new multi-media platform

‘Voices’: Real people, true stories from the world of work

The ILO welcomes 2021 with an innovative, multimedia platform that focuses on first person stories that take readers on a journey into the world of work.

Press release | 04 January 2021GENEVA (ILO News) – The International Labour Organization (ILO) is launching a new multimedia platform that brings to light first person stories of people at the heart of the world of work.  

Through video, photo, audio and text these stories reveal the value, passion and dignity that work brings to our lives – reflecting the human-centred approach of the ILO’s Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work .  

Some show the critical work that the ILO is carrying out on a range of issues, from child labour to skills training to employment creation and more. Others feature people who, through their work, are making a difference to the lives of the most vulnerable populations.  

“Through Voices we aim to promote the ILO’s mandate of bringing social justice and decent work to all women and men.”

Martin Murphy, Director of the ILO’s Department of Communication and Public Information

The emphasis will be on compelling stories with strong visuals and characters who take readers on a journey. 

In addition to multimedia features, Voices also includes a regular blog and podcasts on the future of work, with experts and change-makers in the world of work. All content will be available in English, French and Spanish. 

“People are at the heart of the world of work,” said Martin Murphy, Director of the ILO’s Department of Communication and Public Information. “Our new Voices platform will bring to life their stories and the very important issues they raise in a way that is accessible and memorable. Through Voices we aim to promote the ILO’s mandate of bringing social justice and decent work to all women and men.” 

Voices will launch on 11 January 2021, with stories from Brazil, Jordan, Madagascar, Mexico, Moldova, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.


All Things Co-op

Our union-coops colleague, Michael Peck of 1 Worker 1 Vote writes about his recent appearance on the All Things Co-op video blog:-

American workers are being pushed to the brink. With a true unemployment rate of 26.1%, continuing unsafe working conditions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and disproportionate effects on marginalized communities, the need for change has never been clearer. 

“Are we going to allow brown-skinned agricultural workers, whose babies we put in cages, to all of a sudden be re-christened as ‘indispensable workers’ so that people social-distancing in the Hamptons can have their fresh strawberries?… We have an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and figure out what is work, what is value, what is fairness, what is justice.”

These are the words of Michael Peck, Executive Director of 1 Worker 1 Vote, former International Delegate (USA) for the Mondragón Co-operative Corporation (1999 – 2019), spoken during his recent appearance on our show All Things Co-op. A critical theme of this conversation focused on the need to grow worker solidarity in order to rebuild an economy for all: “Our culture is one of greed and selfishness, and defining liberty as ‘What’s good for me, myself and I.’ We’ve lost solidarity. We really have to decide what it is that we stand for as a country.”

Building solidarity in practical terms, Peck argues, involves a growing collaboration and unity between unions and worker cooperatives. Many people wonder why a worker owner would need a union, and Peck explains how the experiences from Mondragón have influenced a union co-op model that is advocated for here in the U.S. (Watch a short clip from the episode about this union co-op model). “Unions bring solidarity. Cooperatives bring workplace democracy. And when we put solidarity together with workplace democracy we have the beginnings of a better social construct.” 

There is a whole lot to do for an activist worker movement,” said Peck. We couldn’t agree more, and we hope All Things Co-op can be a contribution to the sharing and spreading of knowledge and ideas that can help us build a stronger, fuller democracy – in our politics and culture as well as in our economy – based on workers’ equal collaboration and shared leadership inside enterprises and throughout society.

The current season of All Things Co-op has featured the voices of many cooperative activists, advocates, developers, incubators, and enthusiasts, each with specific experience in building a cooperative economy. They have all contributed illuminating insights to the work that is being done, a shining example of how this important movement can continue to grow. The All Things Co-op Season 3 Episode List is the place for you to see all the past episodes all in one place. 

We aim to keep All Things Co-op available for free and without ads. Help us sustain this show by supporting ATC via Patreon and by sharing episodes and clips with your networks. 

You can look forward to another fascinating conversation about cooperatives in our next episode of Economic Update, which features an interview with Camila Piñeiro Harnecker, an author and activist whose work focuses on economic democracy, in particular on worker cooperatives and public policy towards this enterprise sector. In particular, she discusses with Prof. Wolff why Cuba decided to move part of its economy from state owned/operated enterprises to worker co-ops, what oppositions and obstacles these co-ops face, and more. The episode hits the airwaves today and will be released on our website and YouTube channel Monday, October 26. If you want to hear more about Camila Piñeiro Harnecker’s research and work on Cuban cooperatives, you can listen to her 2019 interview on All Things Co-op.
In solidarity,
The  Team
Democracy at Work

Manifesto launch Q&A

At our Manifesto launch, we were asked lots of questions by text and email.

We’ve tried to answer them here. Some questions have been combined for simplicity.

Q: Do you see union-coops developing in the housing co-operative sector? Housing co-ops are run democratically by tenant-members. Some housing coops employ staff directly while others use managing agencies (which are or originated as co-ops). 
Housing co-ops come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but most are homes that are owned collectively (mortgaged) by the member-tenants or owned by housing associations or councils but tenants are able to run as co-ops. 
The member-tenants work in all sorts of jobs or none and there are wider family members. 
So, can housing co-ops become union-coops in the way you envisage?

A: We don’t see that, because union-coops are really designed for worker co-ops, owned and controlled by the workforce, but we believe TUs should be involved in community organising in this sector. A union-coop supplying services to a housing co-op could be involved in a multi-stakeholder model, but with the proviso that in matters relating to employment the worker members hold majority voting rights in line with our manifesto.

Q: Principle 10 prompts big questions about the contractual and institutional arrangements for the 10% financial levy. How are these arrangements to be established? By who? And under whose control will they operate?

A: Principle 10 is one of the strictly bounded ethical principles upon which the union co-op is run. Rather than being a ‘one size fits all model’, it is flexible, and each individual union-coop needs to adapt it to respond to local contexts, needs and requirements. Co-operatives are by definition, autonomous, so the contractual and institutional arrangements of the 10% levy should be formalised when the union co-op is set up. It should be administered by each union co-op as they see fit, spending it themselves on their own activity, or passing it to other bodies – it’s up to them. 

See all the other Q&As at https://union-coops.uk/qa/

Worker Co-op Council responds

The Worker Co-op Council for the UK, which is part of Co-operatives UK, has responded to our Manifesto for Decent Work.

As a result, we are engaging in a positive dialogue with them, to see how we can work together to develop, support and promote the union-coop model in the UK. This is a really exiting development; to have the main UK worker co-operative body’s support added to our existing support from the trade union movement and international co-operative bodies.

Read their response here:

CECOP publish paper on Non Standard Work

Based on CECOP’s Working Group on Platforms and Non-Standard Work, and coordinated by Smart (Belgium), this policy paper addresses the situation of non-standard workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, including platform workers. The paper stems from a summary of members’ testimony of their experiences during the time of lockdown. The COVID-19 pandemic that unravelled over the world led to tremendous losses of lives across the world. With huge efforts and strict measures taken, it was possible to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Europe, but the constant threat of a new outbreak, as well as the economic implications of the fight against COVID-19, remain challenges for European societies and economies. As for many aspects, the confinement measures and their impact exacerbated underlying challenges societies were already facing before COVID-19 spread. This is particularly the case of non-standard and platform workers who struggled during this crisis, as many national rescue packages failed to address their needs. Whereas cooperatives showed their resilience in times of turmoil in the past, this crisis is new and the uncertainties for the future are high.The COVID-19 crisis showed that the recognition of non-standard workers, including platform workers, remains a challenge in national and European labour regulations, leaving workers vulnerable and making fitting policies complicated to obtain. The failure to adapt national and European labour legislation to cover non-standard workers worsened the impact of the current crisis, putting workers incomes and livelihoods at risk.
Read the paper here

Resources online

We’re delighted to say that a resource pack is now available and can be accessed via the link below:


The pack provides a space for everyone to continue to share ideas now that the webinar has finished and also contains a recording of the session. The recording can also be viewed over on our YouTube channel.

When browsing through the resource pack, please pay particular attention to the “Contribute your ideas” tab, as this is a dedicated space for you to share your feedback on next steps. 

Your comments will help shape what action we take over the coming weeks and months, so please do take some time to add your thoughts. 

Manifesto launch

Join us on Thursday July 2nd at 4.00pm, where union-coops:uk will be hosting the launch of our Manifesto for Union Co-ops. 

As the world of work looks set to change beyond all recognition as a result of automation and covid-19, we believe the union co-op model offers one way to secure decent work and fight precarity across the globe. Fundamentally union coops are a fantastic way for co-operatives and trade unions to revisit their historical routes and work together in solidarity.  

The free webinar will see a number of speakers share their thoughts and insight on the model and discuss some of the challenges that they’ve seen it successfully address. Speakers include:

Cilla Ross – Co-operative College 
Sarah Wooley – Gen Secretary BFAWU 
Ian Manborde – Equity 
Michael Peck – 1 worker 1 vote USA 
Anne-Laure Desgris – Smart Belgium 
Alex Bird – Union Co-op Manifesto 
Tracy Walsh – Facilitator (Red Learning Co-op) 

More information about the webinar, including details of speakers and how you can book your free place, is available over on the Co-operative College website.

Spaces are limited, so book early to secure your space