Your Co-op Needs Your Help – Now!

The Board of Weaver Street last night offered some opportunities to all of us who are worried about our co-op at the moment. Opportunities to make things different. To make things better.

But it requires all of us to take advantage of those opportunities. Not just one or two of us. So, please rally round!

The Board kindly allowed me a chance to address them on the concerns many of us have about Expansion and the Food House.

Once the ball was rolling, several other Consumer- and Worker-Owners chipped in, including Lori Washington, who presented a letter from a work colleague on the Front End at Carrboro.

I think it is fair to say that, at first, the Board seemed stunned by the depth of antipathy among workers and owners to the manner in which implementation of Expansion has been mishandled.

Then, to be equally blunt, the Board resorted to the arcane meanderings, which have so many owners and workers in our co-op perplexed at the moment.

In the face of a phalanx of complaints by workers that they are not happy with the way they are being treated at the moment, the whole Board signed a report that said that management was doing a good job in its treatment of staff.

Just when we thought all had been lost, new Director David Rizzo and Consumer-Owner Director Robert Short came to the rescue. They refused to back down on their demand that the Board respond immediately to the worries of owners and workers.

After some more arcane meanderings, the Board agreed that Ruffin would spend the next month addressing all of the concerns raised by workers and owners, and would then report back to the September meeting with his progress.

Depending on the extent of that progress, the Board would then decide its next steps. And that’s where we get the first of our opportunities.

We should all pay close attention this next month to see if there is any change in what is happening around us.

Do we get answers to our questions at the Unit Meetings next week? Do work and store conditions get better and become less stressful? Are we given proper information to supply to customers? Do our managers begin to listen to us – seek our input? Does food supply improve?

If the answer is ‘No,’ then we go back to the September Board meeting (September 17 – in Carrboro). Not just one or two of us. All of us. Owners and workers alike. And we register our continuing concerns – loudly!

I will be writing to Jacob, Board Chair, to ask him to set aside time in that meeting to allow owners and workers to to respond to what Ruffin has written in his report. And I will be asking for that report to be made public.

Are there now other opportunities to make a difference? Yes.

The Board invited Worker- and Consumer-Owners to write to them with ideas for subjects to be discussed at the Annual Co-op Owners’ Meeting on Sunday, October 19 (not to be confused with the Annual Co-op Employees’ Meeting). Write to with your suggestions.

And then attend the Annual Meeting. Take a fellow owner. And make a fuss!

Is the Board doing enough? No.

To be absolutely frank, our current Board does not understand that a co-op should be owner-driven, not management-driven. The Board spends too much time listening to senior management, and not enough time listening to owners and workers.

The rest of the national grocery co-operative community is investing heavily in the concept known as ‘Ownership Culture.’ Meanwhile, we invest $6 million in a management-designed Expansion, and a culture of secrecy and control.

I’m sorry if that bluntness offends, but there is too much at stake for me to worry about the sugar coating.

Can we do something to make things different – and better? Yes. We can make the Board different.

Become an owner. Contact: Once you have been a worker with The Weave for six months, you can become a Worker-Owner, and you can vote in the 2008 Board Election – to be held this October. You can become an owner right up to October 25.

Now, we did a lot of hiring in April-June of this year. So you folks should become eligible to become owners starting in September. Don’t wait for someone to contact you. Get a hold of Linda at that time.

Then, vote for a Board Candidate who truly believes that it is the job of the Board to listen to workers and owners, not just to management – as our Governance Policy dictates.

I spoke with a couple of Worker- and Consumer-Owners after the meeting. I wanted to listen to their specific concerns.

They were confused as to why the Board seemed, at first, so reluctant to step in and respond to our worries. They were quite disenchanted.

I told them then, and I’ll say it again now: do not give up hope. It is not too late. We can make things different. We can make things better. We can. Honest.

We just need people on the Board who understand how to make us a ‘Listening Co-op.’ And that, in turn, needs all of you!

Published in: on August 21, 2008 at 6:53 am  Leave a Comment  

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