Friday, November 13, 2009

Ballot Box Tampering

An allegation has been made that at least one Ballot Box was tampered with during the WSM Election Process, the tampering apparently committed by someone from WSM's corporate office and/or senior management.

This allegation was made after I sent my e-mail to the WSM Elections Oversight Committee and to the WSM Board with suggestions for improving the WSM Election Process, to render it free from interference from the WSM corporate office - following post.

The allegation is serious enough that it could now give rise to questions about the validity of the WSM Election Process and the result. However, the Board of WSM is refusing to investigate the allegation properly.

As soon as the allegation came to light, it was reported to the WSM Elections Oversight Committee and also to the Board of WSM. Clause XIII.2 of the WSM Elections Manual clearly states that a disputed result must be investigated by the Board.

To date, no steps have been taken to undertake an investigation of the allegation in a manner which protects the person making the allegation, disciplines the perpetrator(s) and clears all those who might otherwise be associated with the irregular activities of one or a few.

Even sadder than the allegation itself and the refusal of the Board to investigate is the fact that this incident is set against a backdrop of irregularities and miscues over the past three Board Elections.

Indeed, the WSM Elections Task Force was set up after the Board Election of 2007 to draft the Elections Manual which was supposed to avoid any such misbehavior in the future.

What is even more disturbing is the suggestion that this incident may not be isolated. There is already considerable evidence that the 2009 Election in particular was dominated by the influence of the corporate office in other ways.

When the annual Election of a Worker Director to the Board of WSM is the only avenue left to WSM's workers to find expression in their worker co-op, because all the other pathways have been shut down by the corporate office, it is essential to meaningful worker input that the Election is kept free from any and all interference by the corporate office and senior management.

All of us at Weaver Street Market Co-operative are proud of the fact that we don't just sell groceries; we also sell a product called 'co-operation.' And we try our hardest to ensure that the quality of our co-operative product is as high as the quality of our grocery product.

Every single WSM store newsletter sets out on the first page those co-operative values to which we are all supposed to adhere if we are to have the highest quality co-operative product.

Those values include honesty, openness, and fair and democratic elections. If we do nothing when our democratic process and those values are subverted, then we fail in our duty to provide the highest quality co-operative product.