The Valley Alliance of Worker Co-operatives is rooted in the ideals of co-operation, mutuality and solidarity. VAWC is itself an expression of co-operative principles — a “co-op of worker co-ops” that have come together as a means of strengthening the efforts of our individual co-ops to develop their businesses, serve their members, and contribute to the wider co-operative economy. Our core goal is to provide ourselves with the resources and support we need to advance our co-operatives, empower our members, and benefit more people in our communities.
From the report: “We’re excited to report about our past year of activities. We’ve reached new audiences in our advertising and marketing – in print and radio – and reached more students (200+!) in the Certificate of Co-operative Enterprise. We improved our internal educational programming with our VAWC Owners’ Manual and presented at more conferences. We researched new impact statements and support concepts for our Member Co-ops. Lastly we made our first loan from the VAWC Interco-operative Loan Fund to support Simple Diaper and Linen Co-op’s expansion. Our most important trend is VAWC being part each of our Member Co-operatives growing these past 12 months.”
- Building Co-operative Power explores strategies from the Connecticut River Valley as a guide and inspiration for developing a regional co-operative economy based on a vibrant and engaged worker co-op sector. It speaks directly to obstacles and opportunities for making worker co-operatives an increasingly important part of the U.S. economy. The authors relay practical insights on co-op governance, communication, conflict and inter-cooperation. These are highlighted by cautionary tales and sagas of personal transformation.
- To learn more about VAWC and co-op led development we encourage you to read Erbin Crowell’s Masters Thesis on VAWC Exploring Co-op Led Development.
- ‘No Bosses Here – A Manual on Working Collectively‘ - by Vocations for Social Change. A 33rd anniversary re-print by Levellers Press of this perennial manual. Table of Contents includes: Starting a Collective; Decision Making; Dividing of Collective Work; Dealing with Feelings; People Issues: Hirings, Firings, Leavings and Salaries; andthe movement and Social Change.
- Worker Co-op Tool Box from Northcountry Co-operative Foundation: A free pdf download of a guide in which two VAWC Member Co-ops are case studies.
- Look at VAWC’s Structure Chart to learn more about how we operate and what makes us a Co-op of Worker Co-ops.
VAWC’s system of co-ops has grown in membership and revenue three years running and has converted 5 traditionally owned businesses to worker co-operatives. As a system, VAWC has:
- 8 Member Co-operatives in several industries: recycling and trash, printing, body care products, solar power installation, construction, etc.
- Over $10 million in annual revenue.
- 70+ worker/members.
- Over $35,000 in annual charitable donations to our community.
Mission and Vision
We envision a co-operative economy where one can live an entirely co-operative day: An economy built on workers’ self-determination and freedom of action and association; An economy of breadth and depth that puts working people in control of their economic destiny while serving their communities in accordance with the co-operative values and principles.
The Valley Alliance of Worker Co-operatives is dedicated to building a sustainable local economy by facilitating the growth and development of worker cooperatives in Western Massachusetts and Southern Vermont. To realize this, we will:
1. provide support for our members. This includes maintaining and sharing information relevant to worker co-operatives, providing technical and organizational assistance, offering joint marketing and promotional services, developing group benefits, improving access to financial resources, strengthening ties between worker co-operatives, and developing relationships with other segments of the co-operative/labor community.
2. develop new worker co-operatives and offer mentoring and skill-sharing to those developing worker co-operatives.
3. promote worker co-operatives in our region. This includes educating and developing community awareness of worker co-operatives as sources of meaningful employment and economic empowerment, providers of quality goods and services, and viable alternatives to conventionally owned and managed businesses.