Thursday, July 10, 2014

Worker-Owner Dividend 2014 [Part 4] - How

So. It's all very well bleating about the philosophy of complying with Weaver Street Market Co-operative policy, and including all staff in the decisions that set the size of the profit and the dividends for 2014, but how will it/should it work in practice? Ah ha. A letter to our General Manager:

"Hey Ruffin,

Now that the dust has settled a little from the end of WSM's financial year, I thought I'd share a few suggestions about how to comply with the co-op policy that requires that all staff be involved in the decision to set the size of the annual worker-owner dividend.

I think you will understand when I say that a decision that clearly goes hand-in-hand with the dividend decision, necessarily precedes it, and is also subject to the broader co-op policy including staff in decision-making, as enunciated in WSM Board Policy 'Treatment of Staff,' is the decision setting the size of WSM's profit for 2014.

It is already Board Policy that the 'profit' will be evenly divided for distribution between consumer-owners and worker-owners. But the size of the profit, and therefore the size of the worker-owner dividend, is open to all sorts of interpretation. And that interpretation, in order to comply with both the spirit as well as the letter of the co-op policy requiring the inclusion of all staff in the setting of the size of the worker-owner dividend, must include all staff.

Without getting too technical about financial terms, I think it fair to say that the basic income and expenditure of WSM in the financial year 2013-2014 is pretty much set, and not open to any kind of interpretation. But after that, most of the matters fleshing out what will become the remainder of the Annual Financial Report are optional. And it is all of the staff who should be engaged in choosing the options.

So it is that it is choices that set the amounts WSM sets aside for things like paying off the long-term debt, capital projects for the next financial year and salary raises to be discussed in the Fall of this year.

I'm sure you would agree that a simple survey on the back of the 'Market Messenger' saying, hey, what do you guys think, is not going to suffice on this occasion. How can anyone think anything if they do not possess the necessary financial information?

Might I suggest that we get together the basic financials, what we know was earned and spent, and produce a first draft income and expenditure account? You're going to have to do this in any event. Then, the WSM Board/senior management produce their list of the options for what they think could be done with the remaining funds from FY 2013-2014, with their recommendations? And then publish this in a 'Market Messenger'?

This really shouldn't take too much time. The figures are a part of the process in any event. It's just the narrative which will take a little extra time. That said, of course, time is of the essence, what with store meetings and the Annual Meeting not far off. So, I look forward to something along these lines in the fairly near future. Many thanks.

All the best,