Friday, June 15, 2012

Democracy Begins With You

All owners of Weaver Street Market Co-operative (both worker and consumer) will have today received their invitation to stand for the Board of Directors.

If you are an owner who is unhappy that your co-op is not more democratic, don't just whine about it. Stand up. Be counted. And stand for the Board.

And when you are elected, don't just meekly soak up the sap fed to you by the WSM corporate office management team, and rubber stamp everything they put in front of you.

Do your own research. Talk to owners. Take a stand. And make change.

Change our co-op so that its assets and common property are truly owned by the community, and are not siphoned off into side companies, for which the sole registered agent is Ruffin Slater, General Manager of WSM.

Change our co-op so that By-Laws can be changed only by the ownership; not by the Board of Directors acting on their own and at the behest of the WSM corporate office management team.

Change our co-op so that major strategic decisions and the co-op's common needs (especially the upcoming '2022 Vision') are determined by that same ownership; and not by a self-selected few in the WSM corporate office.

In other words, change our co-op so that it is once more democratic and accountable to its owners, its consumers, its workers, and its communities.

It is not enough that Ruffin invites us to be a part of his conversation. This is our co-op too, not just his. We should not merely be bystanders in the decision-making process. We should be the ones making the decisions.

That will only happen if we elect a totally new Board of Directors.

In the case of the worker-owner Director election, the tragic and untimely death of Steve Bos means that the election will be for a completely open position.

I am have stood as a worker-owner for the Board four times already. Time for someone else to have a shot.

But I have a few words of advice: get out, talk to folks and truly listen to them. Oh, and if you're talking to a manager, tell 'em you don't agree with a word I say!

A quick shout-out to that same management. Please leave this election alone. You have representation on the Board with the General Manager. You are the folks who make the decisions in manager meetings already. Let this be an election where shopfloor workers get to choose someone who genuinely represents them.

Folks ask me why they should even bother. The answer is simple. If we do nothing, then nothing is what we get. Nothing will change. All we have to do is elect four people, over two years, who truly believe in accountability and democracy, and we can change this co-op, for the better, for good.


I think the part I like the best in the blurb that owners are receiving is the Address by Ruffin, which essentially boils down to this:

1) I have spent 24 years building a monolith that is bloated, unwieldy and unresponsive.

2) It has only left us $8 million in debt.

3) But we are now making 25% of the food we sell. Ok. We were doing that before we went $8 million into debt. But, look at the lovely office I have now.

4) I'm now going to do more of this empire-building.

5) If you insist, I will let you have input to the private conversation I'm having about that empire-building with my chums in the WSM corporate office. You can make comment on a document you have not yet seen by writing to an e-mail address no-one will answer.

[By the way, I do have my own version of '2022 Vision.' I will be posting it this coming Sunday. I don't believe one should criticize others, unless one has an alternative to suggest.]