Poll: A rose by any other name

We’re writing next draft of the membership policy, and need help getting some consistent terms that makes sense to normal people… I’m assuming these are fairly easy ones:

  • “Co-op Members” - Organisations (worker co-ops and worker led co-ops) that pay a membership fee/are members.
  • “Worker Members” - Individuals who give their labour to the federation (part of working group) and are members
  • “Supporters” - Individuals that aren’t formally worker members, but do help out, engage in a more informal way etc

But… what do we call the individuals that are members of co-op members??. Shall we just use that… or come up with a catchy acroynum or word we all agree on (I know these are the important decisions in life…)

What do we call the workers/members of our Co-op Members?
  • Co-op members (and call those organisational members)
  • Members of members
  • Moms
  • Supporters (just use the same term)
  • Co-operators

0 voters

Ok this is only semi serious I want to properly check the polling solution. But any inspiration do share!

Perhaps swap out ‘Co-op members’ for ‘Organisational members’?

So it would be:

  • “Organisational Members” - Organisations (worker co-ops and worker led co-ops) that pay a membership fee/are members.
  • “Worker Members” - Individuals who give their labour to the federation (part of working group) and are members
  • “Supporters” - Individuals that aren’t formally worker members, but do help out, engage in a more informal way etc

Then we’d refer to members of co-ops as ‘Co-op members’ which seems to make more sense to my brain. But my brain is weird :brain:


Ah that does make some sense, just added as an option

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For me, members are usually people, not organisations. So I agree with what Doug wrote about three categories. So the cooperators of individual cooperatives in Workers.coop can just be called “cooperators” or “co-op members”.

I think @dajbelshaw is on the right tracks above.

Perhaps what we evolved for the CoTech Discourse forum, over some years, is of interest here, there are three groups, in addition to the default group, that new accounts are added to:

  • Members, individuals who are workers in CoTech member workers co-ops, their co-op domain name is added to a list that results in them being automatically added to the group on account creation when they sign up using a email address that uses their co-op domain name, these accounts get a CoTech flair (a small icon over their user image) and access to member-only categories and the chat functionality.
  • Co-operators, individuals who are members of sister co-ops – tech co-ops in other countries that we know and workers for co-operative UK etc, when an account is created using a domain name for one of these co-ops they are added automatically to the sisters group and they get a coop logo flair and access to private categories and the chat functionality.
  • Friends, individual supporters and friends of CoTech who we know, these are added individually and they get a friend flair and access to the chat functionality.

for the organisations: I think ‘member co-ops’ (or ‘member organisations’ if you like) is less confusing than ‘co-op members’, which in most contexts apart from here means individual people.


IMO it’s best to choose a term that can easily and recognisably shortened in docs/notes/minutes/etc. Workers and supporters is pretty distinct how it is, organisational members and co-op members then seems least confusing (orgs and coms?).

edit: prefer Cath’s ‘member organisations’

I initially thought Doug’s suggestion makes a lot of sense, call members from organisations ‘co-op members’ as that’s easy to remember.

But then I thought about how it would be for new or potential members, or supporters and external people - who we want to bring in and make sense to, and I think it’s quite confusing adopting a phrase and giving it our own meaning. For instance ‘co-op members’ from the outside could imply we are a co-op that they are members of. (We would also need to be sure that the people we are calling ‘co-op members’ are actually members according to the Policy, which I don’t believe they would be)

I’m just wondering if we need a new phrase unless it denotes a clear difference in opportunity for participation/membership. So members of members makes the most sense to me as it’s more of a description, or supporters as they would fit the same category as other non-member participants. But I guess I’m not clear on why we wouldn’t use the same terms for everyone who has the same membership rights, unless they have a vastly different remit and role. So supporters we are clear are not members, hence they are called supporters.

Individual members = worker member
Members of co-op enterprise members = supporters
The delegate from the co-op enterprise member = member
Non-members who are actively involved = supporters
Co-op enterprise members = Member co-ops for short

I can see that calling members of co-op enterprises a new name will help to make that category feel different/recognised in a special way, if this is a need that will help promote participation or recognise their identity as workers in worker co-ops then this is important, but I personally vote for something other than co-op member.


I think we need an answer to the point Sam raises - not sure if that;s still to be decided, or if I jsut don’t know the answer; but yeah, if individuals who are members of member coops are to be referred to as individuals beyond/outside their coops then for me they’re Supporters, i.e don’t have additional organisational input beyond their coop - otherwise they’re somehow double members, no?

I definitely think coops should be referred to as Member Coops rather than Coop members.

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I was seeing how the conversation develops but for what its worth im coming round to the view that anyone who isnt a worker member or organisation/member coop should just be called a supporter.

Keeps it simpler.

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Here’s the problem for me. Someone who is a member of an enterprise member, who also works for the federation in a volunteer capacity. In my mind they will be eligible for worker membership and might well find themselves exercising 2 votes in a GM, their own as a worker member and their co-op’s.

‘Supporter’ members of USFWC have non-voting (friend) status linked to making a financial contribution.

If we substitute ‘supporter’ for ‘worker’ member that’s fine, but how do we call people who contribute materially though not through a labour contribution? Worker Co-op Solidarity Fund (Solidfund) has many contributors who are not members of a worker co-op. ‘Sponsor’?

Perhaps this points to a change in the relationship with Solidfund.

On the one person having two votes, we could instigate a rule that a worker member can’t hold both their co-ops vote and their own worker member vote at an AGM, if we think this is an issue.

If all of their co-ops members are worker members of ours as well (could happen), then one of them would need to choose to not cast their worker vote. For me this is more a question of technically how they could event cast two votes as we would probably be using Zooms inbuilt voting system which isn’t that clever.

On the individual giving us money side, this isn’t part of the strategy at the moment, to be honest I think we hold any talk on individual donations/membership until there is a clearer view out of Solidfund for what it thinks the relationship to the federal should be and we then discuss and react to that.

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I don’t think it’s an issue but people would obvs need to id - I recall casting 3 votes at Coops UK AGMs :slight_smile:

Final thought of mine, I’m wary of consolidating supporters with members of member coops, as they have slightly different avenues for engagement with workers.coop. Whether that nuance is enough to warrant a different definition in the membership policy, I’m not sold on. My worry is that there may be room for confusion if two slightly different comms/mobilising strategies are needed to engage with two groups rather than one. I don’t have the experience to have any insight on that, and appreciate that if the issue does pan out a policy revision could address it. It makes sense to me to clarify language in a core policy than have a difference between policy and working definitions.

Hi all,

It’s hard for me to follow all of this or understand what has already been agreed.

But I think to stick to the federal nature of the organisation it is important not to exclude other members of WC’s - I think realistically people who are doing active support during their paid hours or on behalf of their WC are delegates. That is the way it is perceived by my WC at least and I don’t see a need for those people to have a membership separate to the WC they are in. I think that it would dilute the nature of workers.coop and make it confusing if Worker co-ops themselves are not the leading decision makers in the organisation - and doing this without elected reps it should be delegates (who are there solely to pass on decisions If people who are not employed by a worker co-op but instead join the federation because they want to support / develop worker co-operation more generally they are effectively ‘individual supporters’.
My assumption is that there are a bunch of these people but no doubt are in a massive minority when it comes to voting.

This would leave two classes of members:

  • Worker co-ops (represented in decision making by delegates, and in the labour of reproducing the organisation by supporters)
  • Individual supporters

If someone is a rep they vote on behalf of the co-op not themselves so shouldn’t have their own vote denied. A rep should consult with their co-op and vote accordingly. This could be the opposite way to how they vote as an individual.

It’s not a massive problem.
I remember ICOM dishing out voting papers to enable a person representing 2 organizations to vote for both, saving a lot of travel cost and time sending another person to the other end of the country.

Organisations also allow proxy votes, which can be held in the multiple by 1 person. Not ideal but a fact of life.

Just to add our own Rules are very clear that Proxies are allowed and you can act (i.e. vote) for more than 1 member.
67. A proxy may not act for more than three Members.
So a rule around not holding both a co-op vote and worker member vote would mean a proxy holder (who need not be a Member, check the Rules) would have more rights than an actual Member.

I second @seanfarmelo’s point about a non-branching chat making it very difficult to see where we’re at. This would be much better done as a meeting with sociocratic proposals being run.

Just can’t see how a decision can be made in a thread where anyone can suggest a new approach without it being followed by a clear process?

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I’m coming around to the idea that members of member co-ops ought to be referred to differently than individual supporters, even if technically they share the same membership rights. For reasons of recognition and for clarity. In terms of mobilising strategy @mattofyorkcollective it wouldn’t really matter because the strategy will be tailored for different types of members/supporters.

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Looking at this again, it is confusing that individual members are called worker members. These are potentially the only members who might not be workers in the conventional sense (i.e not employed by a workers co-op).

Obviously we should be questioning and bending the world of work and it’s definition, but generally - I would say it is a process of doing labour in return for a wage. What you refer to john as Individual ‘worker members’ might contribute their labour to workers.coop on a voluntary basis in order to help it function. However for better or worse I don’t think it could be/ would be called work - especially for this category of our members!

For some of the members of members from larger coops who are doing workers.coop labour on paid time, it could conceivably be seen as work, but that relationship is between them and the worker co-op which employs them. The same way a tree surgeon might cut down a tree at a school but their ‘work’ is done for their boss, not the school. If there was a problem with the work, members of worker co-ops were doing for workers.coop or they missed a meeting that’s between them and their WC from an employment perspective. It might cause a problem for a working group but only from a membership perspective and I think that’s important. For this reason I don’t think that anyone should be called worker members unless they are employed directly by workers.coop

Work is exploitative because it requires that people are fit and able to participate in labour and without that they aren’t able to meet their needs - and that’s a bad way to organise society. And I see workers co-ops are a way of redefining and collectivising that problem. So even though individual members might support and give time and labour to workers.coop I don’t think they should be ‘worker-members’.

Really that term should be reserved for people employed by workers.coop on a formal basis - and I think linguistically that makes sense too.

So expanding my previous suggestion:

Two categories:

Worker co-ops

  1. Delegates who are interface with 1)a) members of worker co-ops

Individual members
2a) Supporters (people who join workers.coop individually and support it’s work)
2b) Worker members (people who are employed by workers.coop)

What this suggestion would mean practically is that multiple members of worker co-ops could be in working groups (say mobilisation or comms) from any given worker co-op, however in a general meeting there would be only one member per worker co-op.