Sunday, February 12, 2012

Weaver Street 'Indy 2011' - Best Spin in the Triangle?

Weaver Street Market Co-operative has a brand new 'Indy 2011' sticker on its front door. Yay! You're thinking, 'cos our owners voted us the best grocery store? Nope. Best organic food? Nope. Best local food? Nope. Most healthy? Nope. Most sustainable? Nope. Most fair trade? Best employer? Nope. All good guesses, because this is how WSM keeps selling itself. Then, WHAT for crying out loud?!

Best place to chill and people watch …

You mean, we borrowed $10 million to become the Triangle’s best pick-up joint? Yup. So, why are you telling us this? Because of disingenuousness. You see, WSM don’t tell you why they have the sticker. They just put it up there. So that you think all of the above. Clever, huh? But not really honest, right?

Why do we care? Well, we all love Weaver Street. I do. Otherwise I wouldn’t work here. But there are many things that could be better, not least work conditions. And if we allow our corporate office PR machine (aka Ruffin) to continue to pretend that all is well, we will never put them right.

So it is that he slaps up the ‘Indy 2011’ sticker to make consumer-owners think that other consumer-owners voted WSM the best grocery co-op in the world. But they didn’t. Because they don’t think that. As is evidenced by the fact that no consumer-owner Board Director has been re-elected in the past three years.

So it is that Ruffin allowed the Board Chair last year to remark in his State of the Co-op Address that 98% of workers were happy with The Weave, when he knew full well that the real feelings of workers were clearly set out in 52, closely-typed pages of criticism in the results of the Employee Survey; a Survey which was never and will never be made available to owners or the general public.

The continuing lesson here is this: support your co-op, buy the food, hang, watch, chill, dance, whatever. But stop accepting as gospel truth the nonsense that we are fed by the WSM PR machine. Look, take notice, attend meetings and ask questions. Find out what is really going on. And then elect Board Directors who actually make the co-op more of a co-op. So that you will want to re-elect them.

Then, you might finally find out who, for example, actually owns the assets of WSM. Because it ain’t the owners. But, that’s another story for another time …

Friday, February 3, 2012

Walking The Weave ... ??

2012 is the United Nations International Year of the Co-operative - Weaver Street Market Co-operative, in celebration, is stocking take-out soup cups, with a quote from the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. The problem is that WSM doesn't live up to the quote it so proudly displays:

“Co-operatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility.”

The corporate office management team at WSM are past masters at talking the talk, and then not walking the walk. Frankly, I've seen toddlers who do a better job of walking when they take their first steps.

The fact is that WSM comes nowhere close to being socially responsible with regards to its workers, whom the WSM General Manager has said (in another instance of Weave-speak) half-own their co-op.

We are overworked, underpaid, over-stressed and under-staffed. And each and every year since the disastrous expansion project in 2008, we have been asked to work harder for less -

I'm not asking that you stop shopping at WSM - we workers need your dollars! But I am asking you please, in this Year of the Co-operative, to take notice, to thank your workers, and to start attending meetings, to speak up and speak out for your workforce.