About

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.

About the Conference

The WWCC exposes people to the concept of worker-owned businesses; strengthens existing worker-owned businesses; develops relationships between democratically-owned businesses, labor institutions, and resource organizations; and builds the movement for workplace democracy. It is held every two years in the Western United States.

Who Should Attend?

Members of worker cooperatives; other democratic employee-owned businesses; labor, technical assistance, and community organizations; and scholars will gather for problem solving and movement-building discussions. Organizations and individuals interested in creating good, locally-owned, community-based jobs are especially encouraged to explore this promising strategy for economic and social development.

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.

For most of its history, the WWCC was organized by a board of volunteers who were also cooperative workers. In 2018, the ownership of the conference was transferred from the WWCC Board to the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives.