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By Steven Kelly, Director of Education & Training,
North American Students of Cooperation


Student Business Members of NASCO: Some Background

       Because the overwhelming majority of NASCO's membership consists of group equity housing co-ops, our membership categories fail to address the diversity of types of co-ops in the wider co-op movement. This disproportionately affects student businesses which are lumped into an "active membership" category largely tailored to housing co-ops. It includes receiving member visits from NASCO staff who excel in co-op process and the group dynamics of campus co-ops, but cannot offer consultation in the skills and technical support needed by grassroots cooperative businesses. There are many organizations, however, which can provide such technical assistance for worker collectives. The discounts offered for certain NASCO conferences are significant for businesses interested in Institute, Anti-Oppression Camp and other NASCO programming, but the benefits do not transfer to other conferences which may offer more specialized, technical training. Additionally, NASCO has never figured out the best way to structure dues from its student business co-ops.


• To create an option of Joint Membership for worker co-ops and collective/ group-equity businesses between NASCO and specified allied worker co-op associations (e. g.,  NoBAWC, GEO, the Canadian and US Worker Co-op Federations).

• This would include the full benefits of active memberships in participating associations, including conference discounts, newsletters, voting privileges, and eligibility for board elections. Members would receive one free co-op consultation per year from any ONE of these organizations, according to what is requested and who is available.

• Incoming dues would be shared between NASCO and other worker co-op federations. One-third would go to NASCO, one third to worker co-op associations, and the last would compensate whomever incurs expenses from providing free consultation for the campus co-op business.

• Internally to NASCO, all worker co-op members would have their own active membership sub-category called "Worker Co-op Member". Active Members from housing cooperatives would have a sub-category called "Group Housing Member".

• Active Membership as a "Worker Co-op Member" would not only be available to student co-ops, but any democratically run workplace that is interested in NASCO membership, joint or otherwise.

• NASCO¹s Student Business members may self-select on an annual basis whether they want to be members of both associations or just NASCO.

• Membership in "NASCO only" will be a minimum of $200 USD in dues. Joint Membership will be a minimum of $300 USD annually in dues.



1. This proposal would need to be considered and agreed upon by the relevant worker co-op associations.

2. Dues amounts would need to be worked out in a way both feasible for student businesses and reasonable for NASCO and other participating associations.  

3. There is a precedent for such joint membership in the option for NASCO members to also belong to the National Association of Housing Cooperatives passed by the NASCO board in 2004.

4. Participating associations should jointly take on the responsibility of educating both student worker co-ops and group equity housing co-ops on the history, principles, current initiatives, and prospects of the broader co-op movement. This could take the form of internships in non-campus co-ops, as well as weekend workshops, online seminars, etc. Such collaboration could begin ­ perhaps as early as this November ­ with worker cooperative organizations agreeing to coordinate programs for the worker cooperative track at NASCO's annual Fall Institute Conference, and NASCO agreeing to support (or jointly submit) applications for funds covering the expenses of these programs.


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