Wednesday, January 15, 2014

This Is What A Worker Co-op Should NOT Look Like ...

I was wrong. There. That got your attention. Originally I wrote a really long post. But I deleted it. It was just getting too technical. So. I'll keep it simple. No longwinded rants. No links. Just pointers. If you want background, go have a gander at the earlier posts on this blog.

We just had posted on our department noticeboard the department margins for the last quarter. At some point in the past few months, the goal margin for prepped foods (my area) went up from 22% to 33%. Um. That's huge.

I thought it was another indication of cash problems in our co-op (Weaver Street Market Co-operative). But I was told it might also be due to a consolidation of processes before we add three new stores.

Ok. Enough.

There are two primary themes in my political life: creating as much democracy as possible, to allow folks to design their own destinies (which should be a given in a co-op); and using the system to effect change, rather than blowing up the system, or doing nothing.

Folks. Consumers of WSM. Workers of WSM. A small group of self-appointed managers in the WSM corporate office are not entitled to be making all of these decisions on their own. I can't force anyone else to hold these people to account. But I can use the system that exists to do just that myself.

The WSM Employee Policy Handbook contains policy which demands that the WSM management team allow employees to participate in ALL decisions which affect their Workplace Environment, their Pay and Benefits, and Department Strategy.

The same Policy Handbook allows any employee to begin a complaint procedure against management if they are in breach of co-op policy.

At this juncture, I say that the WSM corporate office management team are in breach of co-op policy with regards to their decisions to build more stores, to close Panzanella, to attempt to move payment of wages to direct deposit, and to raise margins.

I say this, because in each of these cases (along with many others), the decision was made without allowing employees to participate in the making of the decision.

If I breach co-op policy, I am written up. The system exists which allows employees to write up management when they breach co-op policy. I intend to start using it. In the case of these specific decisions to begin with. And then in respect of each and every major decision (in the categories listed above) that management make where they have not allowed employees to participate in the making of the decision.

It is time to hold managers to account. It is time we behaved like the worker co-op our own policy allows. And it is time to allow all workers, not just a few self-appointed managers in Hillsborough, all workers (and consumers) to participate meaningfully in the making of the major decisions which guide our co-op.

I'll keep you posted ...