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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

The Canadian Worker Co-op Federation

An Interview with Hazel Corcoran and Jared Blustein

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May 2, 2022
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In this episode of All Things Co-op, Cinar, Larry, and Kevin talk with Hazel Corcoran and Jared Blustein from the Canadian Worker Cooperative Federation. Hazel has been the CWCF's executive director since 1995 and Jared is a founding worker-owner of The Allium, a plant-based worker co-op in Calgary. The group discusses the unique landscape of the Canadian worker cooperative movement, touching on issues around building the solidarity economy and Canada's national legislation on cooperatives. Jared and Hazel speak to both the benefits of operating within the worker co-op framework as well as the challenges their organizations face in a largely capitalist economy.

About our guests: Based primarily in Calgary, Hazel Corcoran has served as CWCF’s Executive Director since 1995. Worker co-ops appeal to Hazel as a way to empower workers and help them flourish in the workplace and learn new skills. She believes it’s the most humane way to organize the economy. She would like to see Canada’s worker co-op sector grow significantly, and hopes it can partner with government and the solidarity economy to achieve this. In addition to her work with CWCF, Hazel has also served as a director of a variety of cooperatives, in the past including Calgary Co-op, First Calgary Credit Union, le Conseil canadien de la coopération et de la mutualité, Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada. She is currently a director of The Co-operators where she chairs the Member and Co-operative Relations Committee.

Jared Blustein co-founded The Allium Restaurant and Bodega Worker Cooperative (The Allium) in Calgary. Jared believes that by empowering workers and making them the directors of produced profits, we actively create more resilient and localized economies, and more ethical societies. Moreover, the non-hierarchical and consensus-based model of many worker co-ops directly help to co-humanize and empower those involved, and develop community cohesion with dynamic ripple effects. In the spirit of allyship, Jared is continually working to help other workers establish their own cooperatives. In addition to co-operating The Allium, Jared is also a manager at the Arusha Centre Society, a non-profit organization that works on a variety of social, economic and environmental issues in Calgary.

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