Announcing USFWC’s New Board Members

Graphic image with portraits of the four new board members positioned above a map of the country broken down into four regions. The position of the portrait indicates the region they represent.Para leer este anuncio en español haga clic aquí.

Welcome to our newly-elected regional representatives

It gives us great pleasure to announce the final results of the elections for regional representatives to the USFWC Board of Directors. The new regional representatives are:

Unprecedented tie leads to board appointment to fill Western Regional Representative seat

Dominique Pearson is the new Regional Representative for the West following an unprecedented tie in the Western Regional Representative elections. USFWC uses ranked choice ballots and both candidates for the Western seat received 100% support from voting members. After consulting our bylaws, the board interpreted the tie as a vacancy on the board and appointed Dominique Pearson to fill that vacancy.

The new board members will be officially seated at the board meeting on November 18th, 2022.

Congratulations to the new directors and welcome to the USFWC Board!

Get to know the new directors along with the current directors here.

Governor Newsom Signs Ground-Breaking Law Giving Workers a Chance to Become Owners

Legislation builds upon California’s leadership in supporting small businesses & workers

The U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives applauds Governor Newsom for signing Senate Bill 1407 (Becker D-Menlo Park), the California Employee Ownership Act, into law. The Act equips California’s small business owners with options for succession and employee engagement and gives workers across the state a chance to become co-owners of the companies where they work. 

The California Employee Ownership Act is a product of years of hard work and dedication, primarily through the Worker Owned Recovery California Coalition (WORC), which includes USFWC members and USFWC Policy Director Mo Manklang who serves on the Core Committee of WORC.

The bipartisan-supported measure establishes an Employee Ownership Hub within the Governor’s Office for Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) to provide business owners and workers with resources on employee ownership transitions, as well as support for existing worker-owned businesses. As California continues to recover from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the State now has the invaluable tool of employee ownership in its recovery toolbox.

“Employee ownership enables working people to build wealth while sustaining businesses for the long haul in their communities,” said Senator Josh Becker. “Data shows that employee-owned businesses outperform their peers in profitability, productivity and resilience. Unfortunately, how to make these transitions and seize these opportunities is not widely understood. The new hub within GO-Biz will address that.”

“The California Employee Ownership Act is a momentous step toward expanding employee ownership in our state and creating a resilient economy that works for working people,” said Bernadette King Fitzsimons, WORC’s coordinator. “Clearly, employee ownership is a true win-win.”

Broad-based employee ownership, primarily in worker cooperatives and Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), is an effective strategy to build a more inclusive and resilient economy. With more than 100 worker-owned cooperatives  and close to 800 companies with Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), California is already home to thriving worker-owned businesses covering every region of the state. 

“For decades we have seen worker co-ops thrive in California. Businesses like Rainbow Grocery, Cheeseboard Collective, Courage Home Care and Echo Adventures illustrate the diversity of industries in which workers can succeed, build wealth, and center their needs using cooperative models. The California Employee Ownership Act creates dynamic support for worker ownership within Go-Biz by establishing an office that provides strategic resources toward the expansion of worker co-ops and ESOPs. The Employee Ownership Hub is the first step in fostering the growth of durable  businesses that build worker power in California.” said Esteban Kelly, Executive Director of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives.

Season of Change: Celebrating Departing Staff and Welcoming New Team Members

Group photo of departing staff members Gabrielle Chapman, Ana Martina Rivas, and Daniel Park, surrounded by fellow staff members.

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Staff changes reflect growth in USFWC member-facing work

Fall is here, a time of transition where leaves change colors, winds blow colder and the harvest draws near. USFWC is embracing the energy of change as we say goodbye to team members while welcoming new ones.

In the last few weeks, we have said goodbye to staff members Ana Martina Rivas, Daniel Park, and Gabrielle Chapman. We are happy that their time as USFWC staff allowed them to grow their connections to co-ops and the work they are passionate about. They won’t be going far and remain friends and comrades who are building a thriving cooperative movement in other ways.

The winds of change have brought five new team members into the USFWC who bring a diversity of experiences, skills, and new capacity to our many programs.

These team changes reflect the incredible growth in the USFWC’s membership, staffing, and budget, particularly over the last 5 years. We have focused this growth on deepening our engagement with members through investing in member-facing staff and programs. This growth means the USFWC is better able to help our members weather storms, take advantage of opportunities, connect with and support one another, and create more favorable conditions for the formation and dynamism of worker co-ops. Together these changes mean growth for our mission to build stable, empowering jobs through worker-ownership.

Learn more about these transitions below.

Welcoming New Team Members

Alicen Brown joined our team back in June as the Training Administrative Assistant, a new position supporting administration and client relationships for our Co-op Clinic and Consulting work. Alicen comes to us with over ten years of experience advocating for historically excluded families, communities, businesses, and organizations. Her experience includes consulting with organizations to improve operational effectiveness through developing strategic plans, identifying strategic goals, and improving systems and processes. Alicen is based in North Carolina.

Maureen Darras is transitioning in as Training & Technical Assistance Manager as Ana Martina departs the role, developing curriculum and delivering training for the Co-op Clinic. Maureen has spent over a decade participating in rural peoples’ movements of the U.S. and Chile. Most recently she served on the leadership team of the Community to Community Development (C2C) program in Washington State training startups and supporting existing worker co-ops. Maureen is based in New Mexico.

Jeremy Pine is expanding his role with the USFWC. In 2021, Jeremy managed the partnership between the USFWC and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on the latter’s Global Action Promoting Social and Solidarity Economy Ecosystems. Currently, Jeremy is helping the USFWC to expand its international programs and its grant fundraising. He is from the Gulf South and is now based in Berlin, Germany.

Lauren Shiel recently joined us as our Membership and Worker Benefits Coordinator, a new position. Lauren lives in the Metro Atlanta area and has a background of organizing in the South, including working with low wage workers with Raise Up the South and the Fight for $15 and a Union campaign. Lauren also has experience with HR and benefits administration, making her a great fit for the USFWC Worker Benefits Program. Lauren is expanding outreach and engagement with our members and is also helping to administer and grow our member services, especially our worker benefits. You may have already gotten a phone call from her!

John-Michael Torres will step in as Communications Director, freeing up Mo Manklang to work full time as our Policy Director. John-Michael comes to us with over a decade of strategic communications experience with a background in campaign organizing and bilingual communications. He most recently led the communications work of La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) on immigration and border narratives in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where he is based. John-Michael will be directing our communications with members and building out our strategy for communicating with the public about worker cooperatives.

Saying Goodbye to Departing Staff

Gabrielle Chapman left her role as Membership Director in August. She is moving on to exciting work at Shared Capital Cooperative of St. Paul, MN. As Membership Director, Gabrielle expanded and clarified our member engagement strategy and laid a strong groundwork for growing our member organizing in years to come. Kate Barut will be filling in as Interim Membership Director as we do a hiring search for a permanent director.

Trainer & Project Manager Daniel Park transitioned out in September to focus on his worker co-op Obvious Agency and his work with Guilded, the multistakeholder freelancer platform cooperative incubated by USFWC. Daniel first came on at USFWC in an administrative role, where he helped shape our culture and built many of the systems that made it possible for our organization to grow. He later transitioned into managing our consulting work, where he has offered groundbreaking facilitation to nonprofit and government clients and partners on anti-oppressive and democratic workplace practices. We will miss Daniel’s keen ability to help groups unpack and reshape power dynamics, but we are happy that he will continue as a contractor for the Guilded team.

Ana Martina Rivas also transitioned off staff in September to focus full-time on building her worker co-op, Colmenar Cooperative Consulting. Ana Martina has been part of our team since it was a staff of two, building our membership programs as our Membership Director and later refining our Co-op Clinic services as our Training and TA Manager. Through her powerful bilingual organizing and training, her dedication to crisis response during the pandemic, her database know-how, and her commitment to community care, Ana Martina has shaped our organization and our movement in many important ways. We are happy that she will continue collaborating with us as a Peer Advisor for our Co-op Clinic and member of the USFWC’s Speaker’s Bureau.

Learn more about the USFWC team on our staff page here.

2023 Open Enrollment for Worker Benefits Has Begun!

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More options, new resources, lower rates, same Worker Benefits Program

2023 is bringing some exciting changes to the Worker Benefits Program that will improve how the program serves you and your fellow workers! 

We’ve taken your feedback and looked at our program inside and out to see where there were opportunities to reduce costs while improving our services, and we are excited to deliver.

The changes outlined below deliver the same great benefits at lower rates than ever. That’s what USFWC members accomplish when we unite and leverage our market power.

Join us for our webinars coming up on October 26 and November 3 to ask questions and learn more about benefits changes for 2023 outlined here:


Dental insurance

Our dental insurance company is changing from Ameritas to Delta Dental. The benefits will be the same as the previous plan, but at a lower cost and a slightly different network. Delta is a well-known dental insurance company with a large nation-wide network.

Vision insurance

We heard you – in 2023, we will offer the option of EyeMed OR VSP for vision insurance. With a different network and parent company, we’ve received several requests to offer VSP as a vision insurance provider. We’re excited that in 2023 we will be able to offer the option of either one – each for the same price, which is a lower price than vision premiums were before.

Administrative Fees

We’re gonna be upfront: our administrative fees are increasing this year. Yes, it’s partly because of inflation raising costs for everyone. AND, it’s also because we are growing our ability to offer support to our enrolled groups. We will be offering some tools for enrolled groups to more easily manage their enrollment in 2023, and increasing our ability to support members and enrolled workers 1-1 utilizing their benefits. We are optimistic that the lower dental and vision premiums will outweigh the increased costs of admin fees.

Accident and disability insurance

We offer access to voluntary accident and disability insurance through our broker partner Diversified Human Solutions. These benefits are set up so that workers are responsible for monthly payments, but contact us to discuss organization-paid disability insurance.

Medical Insurance

We continue to only be able to support organizations accessing health insurance in Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, Illinois, Texas, Colorado, and Washington State. These are NOT multiple group plans, but rather we can support the process of setting up a small group plan with our health insurance broker.

HSA/FSA/HRA (Tax-advantaged plans)

If your organization is interested in setting up tax advantaged plans that allow funds to be set aside for healthcare costs, child/dependent care, or transportation, we can support you in setting that up for your organization with our administrator partners.

Eligibility for the Worker Benefits Program

ALL member organizations of the USFWC may join the Worker Benefits Program so long as they meet plan individual eligibility requirements. Visit for more details.