Thursday, August 7, 2008

Who Moved My Meeting?

Blimey. I had no idea the worries I expressed in my last post would prove to be so accurate, so soon. My information must be getting better.

Each year, we have an Annual Co-op Employees' Meeting, when we get to find out what's happening in the other co-op units, meet our fellow workers, compare notes, and ask questions of management.

In view of the internal unrest in "The Weave" at the moment over expansion, a reality check like this would serve to deflect potential misinformation, miscommunication and mistrust before it gets out of hand.

Instead, the Meeting has been divided into separate unit meetings. As a consequence, none of us will get to see the unedited big picture.

And I was so looking forward to spending my day off eating meatloaf. Oh well. Another time. Instead, I sent this e-mail to Ruffin - our General Manager:

"Ruffin, there is a lot going on. I know that. And in all of the furor, things get missed. I know that, too. So, I'm just offering another perspective.

I'm troubled by this dividing of the co-op workers among separate unit meetings, rather than having the usual, one, all-co-op Annual Employees' Meeting.

We all know we workers are restive at the moment. The most important thing an all-co-op meeting would do is allow us all to see the big picture - all of us, together.

To have one stream of information, which we all hear, which we can all question, all together. So, there is no room for misunderstanding.

We already know what is going on in our own units. We want to know what is going on elsewhere. And let's be blunt. We want to hear it acknowledged from our fellow workers, as well as co-op management.

Frankly, we do not currently feel as if we are hearing the same things from management, as we are from our fellow workers in the other units.

Aren't we missing a wonderful opportunity here to set the record straight - in one go? With no room for misunderstanding between workers and units?

Instead, what it looks like is that management is splitting us up, in order to keep information and concerns compartmentalized and apart. Why would you want to create a situation that might exacerbate miscommunication and mistrust, rather than overcome it?

And let's be honest about something else - there's' not that many more employees. Not overall. Not really, are there? Are you really saying we couldn't still all fit into the Arts Center or the Carrboro Center?

Workers speak up when they feel safety in numbers. We go to the Annual Employees' Co-op Meeting, and we surround ourselves with our friends. Then maybe, just maybe, we have the gumption to stick our hand up - which we should be encouraging.

Now, you stick us in a small room, five feet from the person who is conducting our pay review at the moment, and you really think we're going to say anything? Really?

Last year, I suggested we spend less time on management presentation, and more time on allowing workers to interact democratically with management.

In the letter to you making the suggestion, I mentioned the problems with communication created over the Food House, and I asked whether you thought this suggestion of mine might not encourage better communication and understanding, and whether this might not be good for the co-op?

Ruffin, you stood up at the Employees' Meeting, and you replied 'yes' to both questions.

So this year, when we have restless workers, all over our co-op, when there is a level of mistrust about the information we are getting, whether or not that mistrust is justified, we end up moving backwards on communication and democracy. And you think this is a good thing? How, please?

Ruffin, could we please have an all co-op employees' meeting, as normal, in September? And could it please focus, once again, on allowing workers to ask questions?"


FYI: Weaver Street has a decision-making process that requires staff participation before certain important decisions are made.

This process specifically states that staff will be consulted before decisions are made that significantly impact the workplace environment, or that involve strategic changes that impact an entire department or group of departments.

Am I the only worker who thinks that the decision to compartmentalize workers into separate Annual Meetings is one that should have fallen within this decision-making process?

Can I have my Annual Meeting back, please...?

No comments: