Friday, August 30, 2013

POP VOX -- August 29 -- Thank You !!

Another fabulous evening. Thank you all. They were coming in from the streets, to find out why we were all having so much fun with#POPVOX ... !!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Tammany Hall In Weaver Street Market Co-operative?

And so, for a third year in a row, the Election for a Worker-Owner Board Director is uncontested. So what? Well. The primary role of our W/O Directors (if, bless their hearts, they were doing their job) is to act as the de facto trade union for all workers in Weaver Street Market Co-operative.

The two W/O Directors, sitting on our seven-member Board of Directors, aren’t acting as the voice of the workers if they are simply the uncontested mouthpieces of the WSM corporate office management team.

And let’s get this straight. The positions have not been uncontested for three years because the 220 workers in WSM think the Board and its W/O Directors are doing a whoop-di-do job. They are uncontested because workers have given up hope that anything they say will make any difference.

That there is anything we can do to stem the wholesale embrace by our corporate office management team of unbridled, naked corporate capitalism, and its attendant focus on targets, profit and productivity, not community, people and social well being.

Well. Since I’m having a full service swipe at all that is wrong this merry morning, let me be even-handed in the critique. To my fellow workers, I say this. Your defeatism is nonsense and circular.

Of course, the corporate office management team will go on winning, so long as we (and by ‘we,’ I mean the 177 workers out of 220 who have signed up to become Worker-Owners, and who have the vote in these elections). So long as ‘we’ believe they have won. So long as we do nothing to stop it. When we don’t take advantage of the opportunity offered each year, by these elections, to stop the rot. If we don’t volunteer to be Worker-Owner Director Candidates.

I stood as a Candidate four years in a row. Surrounded by fellow workers who voiced their support. And who then could not be bothered to vote. In sufficient numbers to overcome the management bloc vote. Not good enough!

With 177 signed up Worker-Owners, we now have it in our grasp to wrest back our co-op from its obsession with conventional capitalism, and mold it into the successful, community-oriented, democratically-controlled enterprise we all want it to be.

But aren’t we a democracy? I mean, we have elections. When I served on the WSM Elections Task Force in 2008, and one of our primary remits was to explore what could be done to get more folks to vote, we were all agreed that voting was not the problem.

The problem was that deliberate neglect by the Board and the corporate office management team, over the years, had conditioned consumers, workers and owners into believing there was no point in getting involved. No point in even voting.

The Task Force made it clear in its findings that what was needed was a sustained effort to make it clear that involvement was welcomed, and that it would make a difference. At which point, the Task Force was ignored.

Of course it was. The corporate office management team don’t want pesky workers and consumers and owners getting involved. That might interfere with their own well-laid plans.

So, they minimize the opportunities for involvement. Until ‘democracy’ becomes feedback. In a wooden box. The contents of which are thrown away. A far cry from the admonition of the International Co-operative Alliance that a co-op is only a co-op if it is democratically controlled by its owners.

Oh. Come on, you say. I exaggerate. Do I? This year’s Annual Meeting. An important part of the supposedly democratic governance process. When owners are supposed to be allowed to grill their Board and the corporate office management team on the extent to which we are still a co-op. Has been reduced to a meet and greet with an author.

The business section is no longer than half-an-hour. Which will consist of ten minutes from the General Manager. Five minutes from the Board Chair. A couple of minutes each from the two Consumer-Owner Director Candidates. Leaving just a few minutes for owners to ask serious questions about whether we are still a co-op.

This has become standard fare, over the years, for our corporate office management team. Which has pulled out all the stops to suppress genuine vocal democracy in what should be the prime example in our locale of a new economic democracy.

Which makes the author in question (Gar Alperovitz) even more of an irony. Since he celebrates in his book (What Then Must We Do?) the dawn of a new era of ‘democratizing wealth,’ an era which will see an end to corporate capitalism. When he will be addressing an entity which talks the talk. But does not walk the walk. Which has placed all its focus on ‘wealth,’ and rather less on ‘democratizing.’ Which has become the very epitome of locally-oppressive corporate capitalism.

But again. Who cares? I care. I didn’t join Weaver Street Market Co-operative for a paycheck alone. To find myself working at a traditional grocery store outlet, where the only difference is the preponderance of tattoo’s and recycling bins. Whole Foods has organic food. Food Lion has ‘local’ food. Even WalMart donates to schools in our vicinity.

No. I joined Weaver Street Market Co-operative because it was a social statement. One that stated that you could succeed financially, but look after folks too, if you actually lived the co-op concept.

One that declares that we do not sell to consumers by using marketing trickery, to con them into buying something they do not want. But rather, we put them in charge of what we sell. So that we are selling to them what it is they truly need.

A concept that proudly demands that when it comes to determining how we sell to consumers, we allow the workers to set the conditions. So that the workers are happy. Because true happiness in the workplace is only achieved if workers are truly happy. And if they are happy, then they are more willing to provide genuine customer service. One that is based on the principal of mutuality: you will be treated the same way you treat us.

That is the bold but very simple concept that is the bedrock of the co-operative revolution. And it is a concept which frightens the living crap out of the corporate office management team in WSM because it means they will lose control, the oldest and most grotesque trait of corporate capitalism.

This is not socialist nonsense. I have never in my life been mistaken for a socialist. It is, as the author who will be addressing our Annual Meeting, in the mistaken belief that he will be sharing with like minds, as that author declares with clamor and glamor in his book, it is the common sense notion of democratic economic communality which will be the safeguard of economic normalcy in the years to come.

And it could be ours, in our co-op, within a matter of just a few years, if we workers would only take the first step. Overcome our misgivings. Use the democratic process which still exists, and vote true worker representatives onto our Board of Directors.

Worker reps who ask us what we think more than once a year, at Election time. Worker reps who actually advocate for us at Board Meetings. Rather than rolling over. Worker reps who hold discussion groups all year round. The findings of which are then presented as firm proposals to the Board, for immediate adoption.

We do not have such worker reps at the moment. I was unable to offer myself as a Candidate this year, since it had not been a full year since I rejoined as a Worker-Owner last year.

I had had to resign my Worker-Ownership in 2011, when my employment was threatened due to my advocacy.

I will be eligible to stand next year. Who will join me? It’s no good whining about what is wrong. If you are not prepared to take the steps to help make them right.

And there is much that is right about WSM. Don’t get me wrong. I am still here because there is so much that is right. So much that makes us a better grocery store than, say, WalMart. I truly love what is right about our co-op.

But we have much to do, much to make better, if we are to meet the grand goals co-operation sets for itself. The goals pretty much all of us had in mind when we joined WSM. Goals which have been proven to work elsewhere. And which would work here, if only we had the courage and honesty to give them a fighting chance.

[Oh. I nearly forgot. The new Employee Policy rules now require that I add this statement: These opinions are my own, and would never in a gazillion years be mistaken, even by Kim Kardashian, as being the formal viewpoint of the WSM corporate office management team. Although I suspect the latter would prefer something more formal ... !!]

Saturday, August 17, 2013

POP VOX @ 2nd Wind, Carrboro

‪#‎POPVOX‬ will be appearing for the first time at 2nd Wind in Carrboro, on Thursday, August 29, beginning at 10.00pm. No cover charge!

You got a foretaste of the excitement at ‪#‎Weavestock‬. But for the full effect of POP VOX's hi-energy, interactive Beach Pop, bring all of your friends to ‪#‎2ndWind‬, in just ten days time!


Now, Facebook have changed everything. Yet again! So, if you want reminding, just 'Join' or 'Maybe.' That's the only way to get updates!

Or, you can 'Like' the POP VOX FB Page --

If you want a preview of the fun and games, have a gander at the POP VOX Reverbnation Site --

See ya there! Get the voices singing and the feet dancing ... !!