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April 25, 2024

Putting People Over Profit: Vancouver Co-ops Take Co-operation To The Next Level

Written by Hannah McCormick, Marketing Consultant for TCC

The cleaning industry can be a dirty business, where exploitation is all too common. The Vancouver Cleaning Cooperative is disrupting the cleaning industry by sweeping away the exploitation of janitorial workers who are often racialized women working in terrible conditions.

Our founders may have come from different backgrounds but they shared the same barrier and oppressive circumstances faced by many women. “We realized it wasn’t just each other we could help out of these oppressive circumstances, there was something more for us to do. We invited other racialized women to join us and discovered that by working together, we could overcome barriers within our own lives.” (tccoop.ca)

Their vision was clear: an organization that served its members, instead of employees serving it.

And so The Cleaning Co-op was founded and we set out to “clean house”, starting anew in the industry by offering living wages, non-exploitative employment and a platform women can use to spring forward. 

Navigating Growth: How Modo's Transportation Solutions Empowered The Cleaning Co-op

Revolutions don’t happen overnight and our worker-owned enterprise faced many obstacles, one such obstacle being transportation. Our growing Co-op found itself facing a problem, we couldn’t expand our service area because we couldn’t afford safe and reliable vehicles, and then, Modo came along.

A veteran Vancouver Co-op with over two decades of experience, it’s safe to say the folks at Modo know a thing or two about growing a member-owned business. What began as a simple meeting at Modo’s headquarters to provide a quote for cleaning their offices, turned into a partnership that’s been instrumental in TCC’s growth.

“I was so nervous because it was my first time providing a commercial quote (at the Modo HQ in Burnaby) but then I met the team at Modo and was instantly at ease. The Director of Fleet Operations, Erin Sullivan, is such an authentic leader and is a source of inspiration and mentorship to me now.” (TCC Co-Founder, Hayley Postlethwaite)

Modo and The Cleaning Co-op soon discovered that we each had a problem the other could solve: we had a transportation problem, Modo had a problem meeting the cleaning needs of their growing fleet. A powerful partnership was born!

“They still check in with us to see how they can support us and provide ongoing coaching and mentorship. Not just to TCC’s management, but to the whole TCC team. We’ve gained a lot of business knowledge, confidence, and pride through working with Modo.” (TCC Co-Founder, Hayley Postlethwaite)

The Cleaning Co-op's Role in Keeping Modo's Fleet Pristine

Today The Cleaning Co-op provides cleaning for all of Modo’s 1000+ vehicles located throughout Vancouver and the surrounding areas. We clean and sanitize the interior of the vehicles, and wash the exterior of the vehicles on location. We also provide a basic inspection, checking tire pressures, checking headlights, brake lights, turn signals, and oil. 

Modo has played no small part in helping us by providing access to their vehicles, opening up opportunities for TCC to expand our service areas and employ more women. Modo is inclusive in every way, including their allowance of drivers registering with licenses from outside of Canada enabling them to drive for TCC and for personal purposes. This has given an advantage to TCC members, all newcomer women to Canada, and one less barrier on their journey.

“It has been a delight to get to know the team at The Cleaning Co-op. Like Modo, TCC is a co-operative defined by its social purpose. The more we have come to understand  TCC’s social purpose, including their commitment to paying a Living Wage, the more enthusiastic we are to work with them.” (Patrick Nangle, CEO, Modo Co-operative)

Shared Ethical Values: The Synergy Between Modo and The Cleaning Co-op's Missions

Our shared values are a driving force behind this long-term relationship. Just like The Cleaning Co-op, Modo exists to make a difference in the lives of our members - always putting people before profit. Our commitment to paying livable wages and removing barriers for women aligns beautifully with Modo’s goal of supplying their community with an affordable, convenient, inclusive and sustainable means of transportation.

The Vancouver Cleaning Cooperative (The Cleaning Coop) was founded out of our lived experiences of exploitation, discrimination, patriarchy, and capitalism. We started as three women who wanted to do better for ourselves and for others in the cleaning industry. Now, with the partnership of incredible businesses, like Modo, we’re well on our way to setting an example of how a worker’s cooperative can thrive as a profitable and equitable enterprise, even in an industry built on exploitation. 

If you’re interested in supporting a worker-owned enterprise that guarantees a professional, high-quality cleaning service, get in touch with us at tccoop.ca.