There has been quite a response to the newswire post of a former employee of Peoples Co-Op. Discontent has been raised on several issues involving the choices the co-op has been making and where it is headed.
Noose Papier made a very revealing comment and if Noose is not on the Board of Directors, he/she should consider running:
"I am sorry to hear that someone in the community was fired. Unfortunately, that is where the Coop movement is headed. There are poeple making decisions about how to corporatize the Coops. Firing dissenters is one element.
Cooperative Development Services is pushing the Policy Governenace model on Coop boards. In effect, this board policy mandates that the board divorce themselves from the community, and only deal with the general manager, while refusing to hear the concerns of workers. It is a method for a board to "democratically" decide to cede all power to management, while management does what they want with the Coop and employees. Lenin called this democratic centralism. I call it cooptation.
Next, the NCGA and the CCMA are pushing the leaner and meaner model. It is being orchestrated by people like Randy Lee of PCC in Seattle. Remember how PCC pulled out of the NWCGA? Now they are on top of the pile. Coops were forced to merge with the NCGA or be forced to pay more on cost on wholesale goods, by being excluded from a national purchasing agreement with MPW/UNFI. What do you think of when small business are forced to merge? That's capitalism for ya.
All of this has to do with making more profits for United Natural Foods Incorporated, who has a monopoly of the natural food distribution in the US. No more direct purchasing from local producers, or dealing with small distributors. Their hostile takeover of Blooming Prarie distribution speaks to that. The pretext is to compete with Whole Paycheck, but is Coops get corporate enough, they'll just be sold off to the highets bidder in 20 years.
Unless, someone stands up.
When workers voice concerns, they get fired. Some try to organize unions, like in Seattle and Pittsburgh. Management typically hires a consultant and confers with CDS people on how to keep the board of directors unconcerned and uninvolved, by using Policy Governance as an excuse to not hold management accounable to the community.
All coops should adopt a policy of free speech in the workplace and a policy that unions get recognized with a simple majority shoing interest with a petition."
I believe this gets to the real heart of the matter, an orchestrated, systematic plan of taking over Co-ops and it requires some strong opposition. Stay the course with Peoples and help effect positive change. If nothing is done you have no one to blame but yourselves. You will not be able to say "they" took it over. You will only be able to say "we gave it away because we were unwilling to get involved". If it means reeducating members, get your facts and get out there and leaflet, talk one-on-one, hold forums away from the Co-op or within it just don't stand in silence or muffled grumbling and walk off in a huff.
I also believe it is essential to publicize both the discontents and what is working at Peoples on this forum so it can serve as an educational model for other Co-ops locally and nationally.
A note to Peoples Co-OP : Within your membership are many computer geeks. Your website is not finished - it should be! Get it done.