Thursday, January 16, 2014

Formal Complaint About Decision-Making

As promised, I have now written to the management chain within Weaver Street Market Co-operative, presenting the following formal complaint, in my attempt to begin a process where management and the Board of WSM allow employees to participate in strategic decision-making within our co-op, as WSM Employee Co-op Policy demands:

"I present this formal complaint that the WSM management chain above me, up to and including General Manager, are in breach of Employee Co-op Policy, in that they have caused a decision-making standard that is not transparent, and has not and does not allow for meaningful opportunity to participate in decisions and shape the guidelines for decisions.

A year ago, the WSM Board of Directors arranged for an informal series of meetings to discuss the proposed WSM draft 2020 Goals. During the discussion on Goal 3, it was quite clear that the WSM employees present were deeply unhappy with the notion of new stores, not least because the point was made that production might not be able to handle new stores.

More than one of the Directors present stated that they had no idea that there was any opposition to new stores, least of all from employees. I made the point that this might be because employees had not been properly consulted about the 2020 Goals. Certainly not under the provisions of WSM Employee Co-op Policy which demand that employees be included in decision-making on major WSM developments which affect their workplace.

The suggestion was made by at least one Director that there would be more consultation with employees about 2020 Goals. There has been none.

WSM Employee Policy requires that there be meaningful inclusion of employees in any decision-making process that affects the workplace in a substantial fashion. Informal meetings staged by the WSM Board do not preclude this requirement.

There was no time allotted at the 2013 Annual Southern Village Store Meeting to allow employees any meaningful input or discussion about the 2020 goals. There was only a 10 minute general period at the very end of the Meeting. Pitifully inadequate for any meaningful discussion. Of anything.

Management made presentation of the Goals at the 2012 Store Meeting. But there was little opportunity for discussion. We were promised there would be full and appropriate discussion allowed of all of the Goals by employees, and that our input would be taken into account. Not happened.

Discussion, presentation, feedback is not enough. The Policy demands that employees be included in the decision-making process. And that the process be transparent.

We are regularly promised Department Meetings. None have been held in over a year. When the Board Chair was asked why there were no opportunities for employee inclusion in decision-making, he responded that Department Meetings were held regularly. Not true. And that the Human Resources Department had set up a series of meetings for employees to have input on Policy. Not happened.

As a consequence, in addition to the 2020 Goals, management are in breach of WSM Employee Co-op Policy by not including employees in the following decisions:

1) The decision to close Panzanella.

2) The decision to stop issuing paychecks.

3) The decision to increase department margins.

Employee Co-op Policy specifically states that employees must be allowed to participate in decision-making where it relates to Workplace Environment, Pay and Benefits, and Department Strategy. The above numbered matters all fall within those categories.

As remedy, I require that the no further decisions be made in respect of 2020 Goal 3, until the workforce have been fully and properly engaged in creating guidelines which allow employees to be fully and properly included in all major decisions relating to Goal 3, including but not limited to any and all decisions in respect of opening new stores. That includes any and all decisions which may relate to consolidation of operational processes prior to the building of more stores. I mention this because it has been suggested to me that (3) above may have occurred in respect of the latter.

Either the decision to close Panzanella be suspended, pending proper consultation with all employees of WSM, or the WSM Board conduct a thorough and open review of the decision-making process in question, and its timeline, and determine why management were in breach of the Employee Co-op Policy demanding inclusion of employees in the decision-making process, and suitable disciplinary action be taken against appropriate management, including senior management, such disciplinary action to be announced to all employees.

The decision to stop issuing paychecks be suspended, pending proper consultation with all employees of WSM.

The WSM Board and management issue an apology to all employees for being in breach of WSM Employee Co-op Policy, along with proposals for ensuring such breaches do not re-occur.

Finally, in the event that this complaint is forwarded in due course to the WSM Board, I request my right under the US Constitution to address the body of Appeal before a final decision is made. The last time I complained, the body of Appeal (the WSM Board) made its decision without allowing me my constitutional and legal right to make written original presentation, followed by verbal address. Appeal is not to be confused with review.

In the meantime, I give management and the Board notice that I will be commencing similar complaints each and every time I become aware of decisions where employees should have been allowed to participate and were not so allowed."