This September, BICAS Collective members had the opportunity to attend the national convening of the Worker Coop Conference. Representatives of BICAS have been in attendance of the past two out of state conferences. This year more staff than ever before were able to attend due to the virtual format of the conference. The Worker Co-op Conference is a gathering of worker owners, cooperative developers, policymakers, funders, and other allies dedicated to worker ownership and workplace democracy coming together to make space for connection, education, skill-building, and sharing to improve the lives of workers and their families.
Maurice Mitchell, Key Organizer with Movement for Black Lives and National Director of the Working Families Party stressed in his keynote speech that to fully participate in a democratic society we must have full participation in our workplace. For those unfamiliar with the BICAS governance structure, we are a Collectively run, worker self-directed nonprofit organization. The Collective is composed of our staff and board members who meet bimonthly to address all matters related to the organization, using a consensus decision making model to thoroughly address all concerns of our members and gather the most input and collective buy-in for policies and new endeavors. The bulk of our administrative and programmatic work is carried out in a committee structure, with each committee tackling specific areas such as fundraising, art programing, educational classes, etc.
In this unprecedented moment in time, as we simultaneously struggle through a global pandemic, a commitment to racial justice and equity, and an election year, the conference offered a variety of workshops that provided tools for tackling these times and motivation to stay the course working together collectively. Staff attended sessions including Worker Self-Directed Non-Profits, Reparations and the Cooperative Movement, Hacking the US Healthcare System, Financial accounting for Cooperatives, and Anti Racist Hiring Practices. We are eager to integrate what we learned from the conference into our goals and practices, and we look forward to the next conference. For more information check out https://www.conference.coop/home/.