About WWCC

The Western Worker Cooperative Conference is a biennial event (every 2 years) that fosters education and information sharing among worker co-ops and promotes sustainable development of the co-op movement. Workshop themes range from basic topics related to starting and operating a worker co-op to those that improve communication and operation, and others that explore the worker cooperative model in the larger social context. The conference emphasizes the importance of skill and knowledge sharing among members of worker cooperatives.

You can contact the WWCC Board and Conference Organizers at westernworkerscoopconference@gmail.com.

 

Acerca de la conferencia

La Conferencia de las Cooperativas de Trabajadores de la Costa Oeste (WWCC) es un evento bienal que fomenta educación y el compartiendo de información entre las cooperativas de trabajadores, y promueve el desarrollo sustentable del movimiento de cooperativas.

El contenido de los talleres oscila entre temas relacionados con el inicio y operación de una cooperativa de trabajadores, temas enfocados en mejorar comunicación y funcionamiento del negocio, y otros que exploran el modelo de democracia en el lugar del trabajo en un contexto social más grande. La conferencia enfatiza la importancia de compartir las habilidades y los conocimientos entre todos los miembros de las cooperativas de trabajadores.

 

Our history

The conference was started by Tim Calvert of Citybikes in Portland and was originally organized with the assistance of the Northwest Cooperative Federation. The NWCF hired Rebecca Bauen in 1997 as a consultant to organize the event. In 1998 NWCF closed its doors, consequently the conference no longer had a central sponsoring organization. The 1999 conference was made possible because Rebecca and a group of volunteer planners that were identified during the 1998 conference took the initiative to make it happen. It was proposed at a Network of Bay Area Worker Collectives meeting that a planning board be designated to take responsibility for the conference. The 1999 planners took this proposal to the 1999 conference and the conference participants approved the creation of the board and voted in a seven-member conference planning board, which replaced the volunteer planning committee. Due to increased interest of conference participants to be involved, the 2000 conference participants agreed to increase the size of the board to up to nine members. Following the creation of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives in 2004 the Western Worker Co-op Conference convenes every other year so that worker cooperatives can unite at the national conference during even years.

The Western Worker Cooperative Conference is organized by volunteers who are also cooperative workers. New Board members are elected at the end of each conference. If you have skills we could use, or are generally interested in volunteering your time to make the WWCC even better, consider running for a seat on the Board.

Our 2017 Board members

Alison Loercher is the co-founder of The Vital Compass, a solidarity cooperative in Portland, Oregon.  The Vital Compass is a herbal medicinary and traditional Chinese medicine clinic whose vision for equality in healthcare begins with our cooperative business model. Her first taste of cooperative ideals came to her through her backround with the ILWU Local 5 union at Powell’s Books. Through her small part on the organizing committee for the union’s second labor contract as well as a shop steward and on the executive board, she discovered a passion for meeting the needs of a community through action and solidarity.  In turn, working for this change in community let to a passion for change on the individual level through holistic medicine, as we can only care sustainably for others if we are first caring for ourselves.

Amy Johnson is the former Co-Executive Director of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives. During her time with the USFWC she grew the organization’s membership, internal capacity, and national recognition as a strong advocate for worker-owners specifically and worker ownership more broadly. Prior to joining the USFWC, Amy received her masters of Public Administration in Sustainable Management where her research focused on understanding the role of the public sector in supporting and advancing the worker cooperative business model as an important economic development strategy. She currently works as a consultant for community organizing projects and local political campaigns in Oakland, California.

Cristos Andreas has a decade of experience in collectively managed workplaces. He was a founding member of The Flaming Eggplant Cafe, a collectively managed, student-run cafe at The Evergreen State College. After graduating, he worked for The Olympia Food Coop. Currently, Cristos works at People’s Food Coop in Portland, OR and is in training to join the staff collective.

Denechia Powell is a Black queer femme writer, dancer, and community organizer originally from the South, currently making her home in the Pacific Northwest. She is a worker-owner at Fresh Baked Co-op, a queer women of color-owned co-op bakery in Seattle. Denechia enjoys creating, laughing, and traveling with chosen family, her partner, and their cat, Seven.

Kate “Sassy” Sassoon is the founder of Sassy Facilitation: supporting cooperative communication, which provides facilitation, education, mediation, and group process design to innovative organizations. In her 20 years of membership in democratically owned and run organizations, Sassy has seen many faces of the co-op sector, including: housing, childcare, worker-owned enterprises, arts and manufacturing collectives, and intentional communities. She strives to bring lucidity, productivity, and humor to her classes and her clients. You can download free tools, learn more about co-ops, and explore Sassy’s work at www.sassycooperates.org.

Jeff Noven co-founded and co-facilitates the only for-credit class on cooperative business at UC Berkeley — Cooperatives: Alternative Business Models for a Resilient Economy, and has served on the board of directors of both the Berkeley Student Food Collective and the Berkeley Student Cooperative.

Kathryn MacCrate is a community organizer, co-op educator, future paralegal, and full-time wrench monkey

Max Perez is a worker-owner at Arizmendi Bakery in San Francisco’s Mission District and also works part-time with the Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives. The USFWC’s vision for growing the worker co-op sector aligns with the work Max began at Arizmendi Bakery, particularly looking for ways to spread the cooperative model. Max’s leadership helps to establish a common vision with community organizations and existing cooperatives to create a solid foundation for a regional and national cooperative movement. Max was part of a watermelon cooperative that he started in his community at the age of 15. He and his community cut out the contractor, worked directly with the farmers themselves, and split the profits equally. He feels that the path to equality in the workplace is through the creation of worker cooperatives, and therefore works to make the cooperative model accessible to everyone in the same way that is became accessible to his community.

Role of the WWCC Board:

  • Fiscal responsibility for the conference
  • Approve all sponsors and other organizational affiliations
  • Assistance in conference organizing
  • Plan and/or approve changes to the way which the conferences are held including frequency and location
  • Hire, supervise and evaluate the conference organizer(s)
  • Develop and maintain the formal organizational structure

Board Membership, Elections, and Terms:

The board is made up of nine individuals who have attended at least one Western worker cooperative conference, and have been members of worker coops within the past two years and agree to attend all conferences convened during their term as a board member. Upon being nominated for a seat on the board and before the election each potential member will state whether they will be serving either a two or four year term.

Up to two seats are retained for the conference organizer(s) and conference participants elect seven others.