This year the USFWC is exploring new ways to support regional worker co-op ecosystems while our team takes some rest between organizing national conferences. By spotlighting a few grassroots partners, we hope that members and champions in the field can deepen connections for co-op development, training, technical assistance, cross sector alliances, labor solidarity, and racial & economic justice with allies in several established hotspots and galvanize local power.
The Western Worker Co-op Conference (WWCC) was founded in 1997 and the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy (ECWD) was founded in 2002; each led by volunteer collectives and laying the groundwork for the USFWC to form in 2004. Since our founding, we’ve alternated national and regional conferences, in tandem with other programming in the field without over-tapping USFWC capacity. In 2018 those events shifted hands. As USFWC programs, we organized them directly in 2019 in Olympia and San Francisco as convenings; in Baltimore as a full conference; and virtually in 2021. We honor the history, identity, and accomplishments of those regional conferences, and with it the programming that showcases the grassroots spirit of our ecosystem. This year, in lieu of our staff planning the ECWD and the WWCCs, the USFWC is investing in regional ecosystems by supporting local events planned by established co-op organizations.
The USFWC is still working hard to strengthen collaboration with regional partners, including via event sponsorship, participant scholarships, and sourcing leadership to present at and attend these events. Beyond just investing in local efforts, this shift enables our staff to scaffold long-standing priorities, such as our focus on accessibility and resources for Black and Spanish-speaking cooperators, especially for participation at conferences such as these .
We will support nearly a dozen events this year, however the three organizations we are most deeply collaborating with are:
- MadWorC (Madison Workers Cooperative) which hosts the MadWorC Regional Rendezvous in the North
- The California Co-op Development Center which hosts the California Co-op Conference in the West
- Co-op Cincy which hosts the Union Co-ops Symposium at the intersection of the North, East, and Appalachia regions
We look forward to sending cooperators– and those who are ‘co-op curious’– to lead and attend events at these and other worker co-op events this year, stimulating positive growth in the sector.
The USFWC is also looking forward to 2024, when we will host our national Worker Co-op Conference in Chicago alongside the Democracy At Work Institute, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the USFWC’s founding. Updates about all events will appear on conference.coop.
Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about event sponsorship or scholarships. We have a limited budget and will review requests on a case-by-case basis.