Loomio
Mon 4 Dec 2017

Ratify the (Initial) Constitution

LA Luke Agile Public Seen by 81

What is this thread?

This thread's purpose is to agree that the constitution outlined below is an accurate representation of the current situation.

What is this thread not?

This thread is not the thread to try and devise a perfect and all-encompassing constitution. That can and will be done gradually over the course of CoTech's life. Once we have agreed the starting constitution then we can start amending it as we see fit.

So:

If you have any critical concerns that the constitution below a.) is materially inaccurate or b.) absolutely requires something which is missing, please let us know.

LINK: This is the constitution as it stands: https://wiki.coops.tech/wiki/Wortley_Hall_2017/CoTech_Constitution

P.S. there was mention of adding a dissolution clause but I am not certain of this as CoTech is not encorporated etc.

LA

Poll Created Mon 4 Dec 2017

Ratify the Initial Constitution Closed Tue 12 Dec 2017

Agreeing would mean that we take the initial constitution and use it as a basis for iterating on henceforth.

I am aware there are potentially already changes people want to make to decision making / loomio for example.

Results

Results Option % of points Voters
Agree 88.9% 8 SWS FL HR SG DS CLF AC LA
Abstain 11.1% 1 CCC
Disagree 0.0% 0  
Block 0.0% 0  
Undecided 0% 96 JA AHC G ER MP SG AM RW M M KB MK KB PB JT AW CL JC SF BW TD CB IP SBH DS MJS SF DU SB DU SC EO AV KWO JBA O AW JD THA TC RB OW LH DB SW ES MS RRD FLC AC CR JMF RP LL J KD LS INM N VN SP DU TD DU JTW AP OS BP TM JS BR EM GM MS N"A EB NS NS LMH JN SH PE AT A DU J DU ALP CAD AC LD DU CBF H S DU

9 of 105 people have voted (8%)

HR

Harry "Outlandish" Robbins
Agree
Tue 5 Dec 2017

I'll be super sad if someone stops this on a technicality - it would be great to know how we make decisions

CLF

Chris Lowis (Go Free Range)
Agree
Thu 7 Dec 2017

On behalf of Go Free Range

CCC

We are not going to have a chance to discuss this at a Webarchitects committee meeting before the end of the vote so this is my personal vote I'm afraid, abstain as the fact that we are UK based is missing from the document.

FL

Felix Lozano Mon 4 Dec 2017

Great but, unfortunately, I think it is missing something, 'Purpose'.
I have been referring to Loomio's own documents (See part 1); https://loomio.coop/constitution.html

AHC

@felixwave Loomio is often my go-to place for stuff like this but in this case the constitution is their articles which is a very different thing from what we are discussing here as CoTech is not a 'thing' yet so the aim is much lower at this stage.

CCC

Looks good to me but It misses that we are UK based, I just posted this to the talk page.

AHC

The main motivation for this is to have something in writing that aims to describe how CoTech functions so I think we should focus on passing this unless anything is actually in accurate.
So... it may be missing the purpose but the Manifesto aims to cover this. Should they be in the same place? Maybe, but perhaps not a blocker to this proposal?
UK-based - really good point @chriscroome -not sure how we missed this. I would suggest an amendment to add an 4th criterium for membership.

SWS

@aaronhirtenstein @chriscroome What would be the rationale for specifying either UK-only or UK-based in the constitution?

CCC

I don't have the URL's to hand but given an hour one evening I could collect references to all the times that the question "are we a network of UK based co-ops or an international network" has come up, if needs be, my recollection is that we are, in practice a UK based network and my suggestion was that the documentation of our existing custom and practice should include this.

LA

Luke Agile Wed 6 Dec 2017

I just extended the deadline until 12th as I don't think I set it to a week sorry!

G

Graham Wed 6 Dec 2017

Should the manifesto at https://www.coops.tech/manifesto, or at least the opening statement, not be included in the constitution?

HR

Harry "Outlandish" Robbins Wed 6 Dec 2017

@graham2 I believe the plan is to keep the Manifesto (an outwards facing mission statement) and also create a Constitution (an internal facing 'bill of rights' for members). I think the plan was that the Constitution would replace the About page potentially.

CLF

Chris Lowis (Go Free Range) Thu 7 Dec 2017

We (GFR) also worked on this at WH and chatted to quite a few people about it. I think we've all done a good job of capturing the implicit ways the CoTech works and making them explicit - even if that has highlighted some obvious things we'd like to change.

I know this stuff can be a bit dry but I think it's important that everyone has a quick read to make sure it all makes sense.

I agree with @chriscroome - I'm pretty sure we've refused membership to non-UK co-ops before so I think this implicit "rule" should be captured. We can think about changing it when we have a simple system in place to do so.

CCC

I think it has been very clear that we have only been allowing UK based co-ops to join and if we are to ratify the existing custom and practice in the form of a document then I think that this aspect of our organisation should be included (irrespective of whether we agree with limiting CoTech to UK based co-ops).

References I have found from a quick search to CoTech being UK based:

Organisations that have not been allowed to join so far include:
* Protozoa - based in New Zealand (an Enspiral venture) - we'll notify them if we go international

https://www.loomio.org/d/gI1Ts8i5/membership-admission-decisions

And:

1) (Create) a UK-based coalition of tech-focused co-operatives that pool their resources to achieve their shared aims – making the world better and fairer with technology

https://www.loomio.org/d/93Kolm4U/co-op-sprint-retreat

And:

Allow DTC innovation co-op to join CoTech

The co-op is legally based in France, but he is based in London and one of the other members is soon to be based in Canada… Are we basing 'UK co-ops' as registered address, or the workers? He has offered to set up a UK address if we ask him to, but this seems long winded and not bureaucratic.

Chris Lowis: I think DTC have strong enough ties to the UK to be allowed to join

Chris Croome: We don't have a legal structure or (as far as I'm aware) a formal agreement that we are only open to UK based legal entities / co-operatives (though perhaps we should?)

https://www.loomio.org/p/9zZAoSBi/allow-dtc-innovation-co-op-to-join-cotech

There is more on the contact list archives and I'm sure I had a conversation about with with @alexwa in Slack, examples from the list:

  • https://www.fountstudio.com/ — pointed at the North America based network as they are not UK based by me.
  • http://agaric.coop/ — gently turned away by @finnlewis as "Agaric is a distributed co-operative, but mainly based in US / Nicaragua"

Are more examples need to justify including UK based in the document?

SWS

Why UK-only? That's not in the draft and I can't see any good reason to be national except language and currency issues. However agree that although imperfect the draft is where we've got to

CCC

Sorry if you thought I was defending the existing UK-only custom and practice — that wasn't my intention, I don't think that the UK is a political entity that we should feel a need to defend or support — I was just suggesting that since we have only been allowing UK based co-ops to join that the attempt to document our existing custom and practice should reflect this fact.

HR

Harry "Outlandish" Robbins Mon 22 Jan 2018

@sionwhellens @peteburden There has been a high-expectation of accessibility for CoTech - e.g. where events are located, subsidies for attending, etc.

These challenges would be much greater if this was a Europe or worldwide organisation. I suggest we wait until all the co-ops can afford to get to the Midlands before we start organising events across Europe and arranging for multilingual facilitators.

The About Us page currently states that CoTech "aims to create a better technology sector in the UK"

Would obviously be good to collaborate with people outside the UK (and EU) though.

J

Jonathan Tue 23 Jan 2018

I agree with Chris "I don't think that the UK is a political entity that we should feel a need to defend or support"
Without slowing anything down I think we need to revisit allowing worldwide OR UK based co-ops to join. I note that the discussions CHris referred were ambiguous in the subtle difference between:

" UK-based coalition of tech-focused co-operatives..." and

"coalition of UK-based tech-focussed cooperatives..."

I think I'd prefer the 1st one, allowing non-UK members

The reference to the New Zealand co-op being refused membership - seems a shame - it was the only one in a list of 4 refused on that basis, the rest weren't co-ops (Harry "Outlandish" Robbins · 4 months ago - https://www.loomio.org/d/gI1Ts8i5/membership-admission-decisions said "Protozoa - based in New Zealand (an Enspiral venture) - we'll notify them if we go international" )
I suppose I'm advocating for "going international" AS a UK-based network.

CCC

Clearly Webarchitects needs to have an internal discussion about this — I don't believe that @jonathan31 has understood the point I was trying to make…

This thread was opened with this text:

What is this thread?

This thread's purpose is to agree that the constitution outlined below is an accurate representation of the current situation.

What is this thread not?

This thread is not the thread to try and devise a perfect and all-encompassing constitution. That can and will be done gradually over the course of CoTech's life. Once we have agreed the starting constitution then we can start amending it as we see fit.

So:

If you have any critical concerns that the constitution below a.) is materially inaccurate or b.) absolutely requires something which is missing, please let us know.

So this isn't the place to have a debate about whether CoTech should or shouldn't be restricted to UK co-ops — it is a place to agree what the existing situation is.

I'm afraid we didn't have a discussion at the Webarchitects Committee Meeting about this before I used the Webarchitects vote (perhaps there wasn't time) and in hindsight I think I'd argue that we should have blocked this, rather than abstaining, for the simple reason that the text from Wortley Hall is "materially inaccurate" and it is the case that it "absolutely requires something which is missing" — the fact that in practice we have been and are a UK based network of Tech Co-ops, not an International network.

The point of the exercise was to agree what we currently have in place in order to provide a baseline from where we can start to move on, but as this thread shows we might have failed to achieve this since the vote was on a document that doesn't mention if we are or are not a UK based network.

CLF

Poll Created Thu 25 Jan 2018

Clarify implicit rules around UK-based membership criteria to allow us to ratify the first version of the constitution Closed Thu 1 Feb 2018

Outcome
by Chris Lowis (Go Free Range) Thu 8 Feb 2018

Thank you to everyone for participating in this thread and in particular Luke for kicking off the discussion.

We have a constitution! I've updated the constitution on the wiki to reflect this proposal and have removed the "draft" status.

The constitution has details about how we change the constitution itself, so if people would like to propose changes there's now a mechanism to do so.

Thanks again!

Chris

I think it would be really good to ratify a "good enough for now" version of the constitution so that we have a basis on which to propose amendments / clarifications etc.

A reminder - the objective of this exercise is not to write a constitution that everyone agrees on, but rather to capture in words, in one place, the way we work at the moment in various online threads, email chains, slack channels etc. Once we have something written down, we can then change and improve it over time.

To that end, I've looked into some of the decisions we've made in the past on membership criteria based on ties to the UK. I've found three examples:

  • We were contacted by email (contact@) on 21/07/2017 by http://agaric.coop/ and didn't put their membership enquiry to a vote on Loomio because they weren't UK based.

  • On 07/09/2017 we were contacted by email (contact@) by someone looking to start a co-op in Austin, Texas. We offered help but told them CoTech was UK-based at the moment.

  • In this Loomio thread we allowed dtc to join https://www.loomio.org/p/9zZAoSBi. They are legally based in France but have members based in the UK.

Based on this it doesn't seem that we have applied very exact rulings. Therefore:

Proposal

Under "Who is eligible to join?... Your co-operative must" I propose adding the bullet point "be based in or have significant ties to the UK". I think this captures the implicit rules we have applied so far.

If this proposal passes and we consider that wording to be good enough for now, I suggest someone then starts a discussion and proposals to amend the wording and more cleary define the rules.

Results

Results Option % of points Voters
Agree 92.9% 13 AHC FL G HR CCC JMF LS DS SH DU CAD AC AC
Abstain 7.1% 1 SWS
Disagree 0.0% 0  
Block 0.0% 0  
Undecided 0% 90 JA ER MP SG AM RW M M KB MK KB PB JT AW CL JC SF BW TD CB IP SBH DS MJS SF DU SB SG SC EO AV KWO JBA O AW JD THA TC RB OW LH DB SW ES MS RRD FLC AC CR RP LL J KD INM N VN SP DU TD DU JTW AP OS BP TM JS BR EM CLF GM MS N"A EB AC NS NS LMH JN PE AT A J ALP LD DU JLD CBF H S LA

14 of 104 people have voted (13%)

HR

Harry "Outlandish" Robbins
Agree
Thu 25 Jan 2018

I think this would be a totally awesome step in the right direction! Thanks @chrislowis for pushing it

HR

Harry "Outlandish" Robbins
Agree
Thu 25 Jan 2018

Outlandish think this would be a totally awesome step in the right direction! Thanks @chrislowis for pushing it

JMF

James Mead (Go Free Range)
Agree
Thu 25 Jan 2018

This seems like a good starting point to me. Thanks for doing the research into previous decisions.

DU

[deactivated account]
Agree
Fri 26 Jan 2018

It seems fair and it reflects well what the scope of "UK" means with this proposal :-)

G

Graham
Agree
Fri 26 Jan 2018

Thanks for doing the work on this. A sensible step forward.

AHC

Thanks for doing this, Chris. This sounds sensible to me and a reflection of things to date.

SH

Stephen Hawkes
Agree
Sat 27 Jan 2018

Developer Society

SWS

I don’t think there is an implicit rule that the coop has to be either UK based / have UK ties, or that we need clarification on the subject at this stage.

SWS

I don’t think there is an implicit rule that the coop has to be either UK based / have UK ties, or that we need clarification on the subject at this stage.

LS

Louise Scott
Agree
Wed 31 Jan 2018

Thanks for this, Chris. I think it might be worth saying if not UK based then will be up to the membership to agree on whether the UK ties are strong enough to be considered for membership - just so it is clear how we will deal with an unclear area.

CLF

Chris Lowis (Go Free Range) Tue 30 Jan 2018

@sionwhellens - I feel like the three examples I gave in the proposal show that there has been an implicit "uk based" rule applied already. I'm not saying I agree with it - just that it should be written down.

With the way things currently work, a disagreement means this won't pass and we'll have to have another go-around to ratify this constitution.

SWS

Hi Chris, have changed my vote to abstain so as not to effectively block! I think what has happened in practice re non-UK enquiries has been based on assumptions rather than anything that's ever been agreed. It may well be that we decide to say something more explicit, such as confirming that English is the working language of the network; or that other membership requirements (e.g. physical attendance at an annual retreat in the UK) put distant coops off wanting to join, but as you say, this is about confirming what we think is currently in place constitutionally.

CCC

@sionwhellens I think you are mistaken when you say "I think what has happened in practice re non-UK enquiries has been based on assumptions rather than anything that's ever been agreed.", in addition to the list of examples I posted two months ago I'd like to point out the discussion I had with @alexwa and others in #general on Slack on Tue Apr 04 2017:

--- Day changed Tue Apr 04 2017
09:38 < chrisc> email on contact list asking to join from http://www.protozoa.nz/ which is great, but i'm a little confused that their web site doesn't mention that they are a coop?
09:50 < sdgluck> They're in new Zealand. I guess we would have to decide if cotech is national or international. I sort of understood it was the former.
09:53 < chrisc> yeah we should have that discussion
09:53 < chrisc> it's been needed for a while and this makes it's concrete
09:53 < chrisc> *it
10:21 < amil> yeah I think we should decide too, as Abi found these people online a while back and they are definitely in our remit but are based in the states: https://www.fullsteamlabs.com/
10:29 < chrisc> you know about the US tech-coop email list and associated website?
10:30 < chrisc> https://www.techworker.coop/about
10:31 < amil> oh yeah! I think i remember you mentioned it a while back now but it does ring a bell
10:33  * chrisc if they have north america covered perhaps we should just cover the islands off the north west coast of the european mainland, dunno, this issues get compliacted fast due to Ireland, Scotland etc...
10:34 < alex> I mean I thought the obvious implicit default was "national"
10:34 < chrisc> which nation though?
10:34 < chrisc> but yeah
10:34 < chrisc> i agree
10:35 < alex> The United Kingdom
10:35 < chrisc> some people have political problems with the United Kingdom, especially in Scotland and Ireland...
10:37 < alex> We can't anticipate all future constitutional arrangements Chris! It'll do for a basic rule of thumb.
10:38 < chrisc> tell that to Irish and Scottish nationalists :-p
14:54 < chrisc> perhaps we limit the co-ops to uk ones but allow supporters and supporting co-ops from anywhere? dunno, I guess we need a discussion thread on this, so I'll see if I can get Discourse setup in the next few days
14:57 < alex> Much as I am an internationalist I just think this muddies the water quite a bit, people are fine to cheer us on and know about CoTech but to have any more formal arrangements seems odd
15:24 < chrislowis> I'd agree with that too - we already have a tendency to defer decisions until we meet face to face, and that would become almost impossible with a global membership.
15:24 < chrislowis> But I'd be delighted to have Discourse open to anyone who is interested or feels like they can contribute.
16:22  * chrisc perhaps we should formulate it as "co-ops incorporated under English or Scottish law" or smt, dunno, have had this discussion a few times before in other groups...  
CLF

Chris Lowis (Go Free Range) Tue 30 Jan 2018

Thanks @sionwhellens that's great - I'd 100% support us having a proposal following this ratification to add some clarity around this (and other) issues! It's really confusing at the moment for sure :)

HR

Poll Created Fri 23 Feb 2018

Add clarified membership criteria to the constitution Closed Fri 30 Mar 2018

Add the following text:

  1. Must be a worker, consortium, multi-stakeholder or secondary co-op
  2. Must be primarily owned by its workers
  3. Must be controlled by its workers
  4. Must sell tech/digital service
  5. Must not exploit workers (in a taxation without representation sense)
  6. Must support the CoTech Manifesto

This is being refined in the discussion thread but is here to make it clear what's being discussed currently.

Results

Results Option % of points Voters
Agree 50.0% 1 SH
Abstain 50.0% 1 HR
Disagree 0.0% 0  
Block 0.0% 0  
Undecided 0% 104 JA SWS AHC FL G ER MP SG AM RW M M KB MK CCC KB PB JT AW CL JC SF BW TD FT CB IP SBH DS MJS SF DU SB SG SC EO AV KWO JBA O AW JD THA TC RB OW LH DB SW ES MS RRD FLC AC CR JMF RP LL J KD LS INM N VN DS SP DU TD DU JTW AP OS BP TM JS BR EM CLF GM MS N"A EB AC NS NS LMH JN PE AT A DU J ALP CAD AC LD DU JLD CBF H S LA AC IN

2 of 106 people have voted (1%)

CLF

Chris Lowis (Go Free Range) Fri 23 Feb 2018

Thanks for making the proposal @harryrobbins

I'm not sure I'm clear on what the difference is between points 2 ("Must be primarily owned by its workers") and 3 ("Must be controlled by its workers"). Could you clarify?

I think one of your reasons for disagreeing with the decision to allow Digital Life Collective (that I also agree with but struggle to find the words) to join is that they don't employ anyone. Could we make that more explicit? Perhaps in the definition of "worker".

I think your point 5 requires some thought - it's quite open to interpretation as written and I'm not sure that helps (although I agree with the sentiment).

I also wonder about creating a new membership type "associate" or something that would allow us to publically recognise that we support and co-operate with collectives like DLC without, perhaps, requiring the same commitment from them or giving them the same voting rights?

G

Graham Fri 23 Feb 2018

Ownership and control are two different things. Both should be included explicitly.

Rather than "must be controlled by its workers" I would suggest "must be democratically controlled by its workers".

Rather than "Must sell tech/digital service" I would suggest "must provide tech/digital products/services.

And I guess what's missing there (it might already be somewhere else) there needs to be something along the lines of "must support the vision/mission/purpose/manifesto/raison d'être* of CoTech" (*delete as appropriate).

HR

Harry "Outlandish" Robbins Fri 23 Feb 2018

Good points @chrislowis and @graham2 - I've updated the text in the proposal to make clear it's a straw man and is being refined in the discussion.

@graham2 I don't think I agree with your second point (Must sell -> Must change) - to me this is about co-ops where the economic activity is about workers telling tech services. A co-op with no tech workers could provide a tech service, and that doesn't feel in keeping with CoTech

@chrislowis agree several of the points are too ambiguous - could you suggest clarified versions?

G

Graham Fri 23 Feb 2018

My use of the word 'provide' rather than 'sell' is an attempt to be a little broader in language. You could have a tech worker co-op that contracts out it's sales work, so it wouldn't technicvally sell stuff itself, but it would still provide it. Anyway, the important change is the use of 'products/services' instread of 'service'.

CLF

Chris Lowis (Go Free Range) Tue 20 Mar 2018

I wonder if it might be easier to collaborate on the text for this somewhere else and then put something that we agree on out as a proposal?

SWS

Looking good but I would suggest we don’t need to ennumerate the varieties of coop it must be, since majority/primary ownership and control by workers is there. Also, a secondary coop (coop of coops) should not be controlled by its workers, but by nominees of its corporate members? Definition of workers to me should be those whose labour creates most of the value in the coop’s products and services, i.e. a political rather than a legalistic definition. This is quite important because for instance Coops UK still assumes that a consortium is not a worker coop unless the members specially identify as such and ask to be in the worker coop category of members (giving them the right e.g. to elect people to the Worker Coop Council). European (CECOP) definition of a worker coop is even more narrow, they don’t yet recognise anything except employee membership for worker coops, although they realise they need to work fast on new typologies of e.g. freelancer coops, people working for platforms like Uber. This isn’t mere pedantry, because it follows the lines of the EU laws and national frameworks which they try to influence.

G

Graham Wed 28 Feb 2018

Following the decision to not allow the Digital Life Collective into membership, we need to make it explicit that worker ownership and control menas ownership and control by paid workers. Volunteer workers don't count.