We are excited to share our newest campaign and initiative, the Burnaby Centre for Community and Worker Ownership is a new cooperative development, incubation, and innovation hub that will rapidly scale the new Burnaby Model of union cooperative development.

This new project is being led by the UCI with the support of Vancity Credit Union, BC Federation of Labour, and BC Cooperative Association.

The Centre’s community economic development model is guided by the success of international precarious worker organizing initiatives. Labour union partnerships are at the core foundation of our work here in Burnaby. Here are just a few examples that inspire and guide our work:

+ The Preston Model is a community economic development approach at the municipal level in the United Kingdom. Public anchor institutions and other partners implement community wealth building principles through pooled procurement from local cooperatives and small businesses.

+ The social franchise cooperative model is changing the landscape of the cleaning industry in New York City. The Up&Go platform cooperative supports racialized and immigrant women workers through a network of neighbourhood based worker cooperatives. This year, their model will be scaling across the United States through the work of the Centre for Family Life in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

+ Smart is a unique services cooperative network of over 40,000 freelance workers across 7 European countries with 9 offices across Belgium. This innovative cooperative provides an alternative to precarious and isolated gig work through a community collaboration platform and back end administrative services for members.

+ Solidarity network models, inspired by the Mondragon Cooperatives of Spain, are being utilized to support racialized and migrant youth in Surrey, BC through Solid State Industries. In Cincinnati, Ohio, a Mondragon partnership with the United Steelworkers is being implemented in a union cooperative network by Co-op Cincy.

+ The Pueblos Mancomunados of the Sierra Norte mountains in rural Oaxaca, Mexico are a unique development and ecotourism initiative centred on indigenous cooperative governance by the “gente de las nubes” (people of the clouds). A network of 6 communities work together in cooperation towards a sustainable economy. All major decisions are approved by the caracterizados (Council of Elders) and Community Assemblies following Zapotec traditions.

Each of these examples are rooted in their local culture and economic realities, but they share a common characteristic of network building through community controlled cooperatives grounded in the principles of solidarity and mutual aid.

The new Burnaby Model and Burnaby Centre for Community and Worker Ownership will focus our development on organizing precarious and racialized workers as we build sustainable and scalable cooperatives with our network of labour union partners.