Thursday, May 21, 2015

WSM June Meetings, Co-op Strategy, and Worker Inclusion in Decision-Making

This post is aimed at every last Weaver Street Market Co-operative employee, who responded in the recent Employee Communications Survey, that they wanted to be included in decisions that affect them in their co-op. Whether at department level, store level, or co-op level. This somewhat involved post is for you.

In response to all of our efforts, aimed at the WSM powers-that-should-not-be, encouraging them actually to include we WSM workers in decisions that affect OUR co-op, we were told in our last employee Market Messenger that there would be meetings in June of this year, to allow us to discuss with said powers what we would like for goals, plans and budget for WSM.

Which is all fine and dandy. But this is not a gift. This is our right. I have been banging on for several years now (which may be why all this has now happened, who knows?) about a co-op policy that formally requires that WSM employees are included in all decision-making that affects them and our co-op.

You can discuss what you like at these June meetings. What I intend to do is wave at all the folks present copies of the policy details, and ask said powers when and how they intend formally to implement the policy, so that we are not included at their whim, but within the context of a formal process and structure, that allows us to be involved in decision-making all the time, every year, on a regular basis.

If you want to do the same (at these meetings, at unit meetings, at department meetings, basically whenever the opportunity arises, until such time as we have the formal process and structure), then it occurs to me you might want access to the documentation that evidences this co-op policy.

Before I direct you, I make this point, since there is co-op employee policy which forbids the dissemination of what the powers describe as 'internal documents.' There is not one document to which I refer you which is not openly available in every unit. None of the documents refers to anything that even a half-wit would describe as proprietorial commercial or financial information. It is documentation which evidences the right of WSM employees to be involved in the democratic structure of the co-op which the General Manager says they half own. As such, and in keeping with the requirement of our co-op that we be open and transparent, I challenge any assertion that these documents may not be given the widest publicity, in order to allow WSM employees fully to understand and enjoy their rights.

Phew. In a bloody co-op!

Right. The documents.

I attach photo's of each of them. Bottom line. There is a Board policy called Treatment of Staff. It can be found on Page 1 of every WSM Employee Policy Manual. This is the policy which states that we must be included in decision-making.

Next-up is a document evidencing the results of a consultation exercise, held in 2007, which details which decisions are covered by this policy. You can find the document on every unit computer's That would be the page which first comes up when you go onto the web. Look at the top tabs. Two tabs in = HR & Training. Click. Middle of page, document = 'Decisions that require staff input.'

Same page, one document up = 'Decision Process Steps.'

If none of this works for you, I have produced a pamphlet on Lulu self-publishing. It is here. You can read it online for FREE.

So. Fellow WSM co-workers. We've waited and waited. For years. To be able to make impact, make a difference in OUR co-op. The moment is here. Arm yourself with the knowledge. Have the documents ready. Go to the meetings. And ask the same question I will be asking: when and how are you going finally to implement this policy?

Over to you.

Oh. And I've written to Ruffin, to let him know we're coming ...

Friday, May 8, 2015

More On WSM Employee Communication And Inclusion

Good news and bad news. If my fellow WSM co-workers bother to read the back page of this week's employee Market Messenger, they will see that, in response to the recent employee communications survey, WSM management have agreed to 'have sessions dedicated to discussing overall co-op direction.'

That is the good news. The bad news is that, although WSM management admit that they want workers to know what effect being a co-op has on goals, plans and budget, they do not unequivocally state that the sessions they plan will allow us to have meaningful input on WSM's goals, plans and budget.

So. If you want meaningful input, start badgering your manager now, to ensure that those sessions, and what follows, allow all workers the opportunity to be included in decisions that affect the things that matter most to us in our co-op.

Too often, we are asked for feedback when decisions have already been made. We're asked what we think of plans to spend millions on expansion or refit, when the decisions have already been made. And we're being asked whether or not we like the shade of pastel paint.

Decisions are made about focusing on local produce. But we're not asked what local produce. Or how best to promote it. Or where to put it.

We're told that WSM is going dramatically to change the nature of what is on offer in our stores. But, either we are not asked what we think, or we're asked, and then ignored

WSM co-op policy demands that we be included in the decisions. For real. Not in a window-dressing exercise.

So, WSM management aren't doing us any favors with offering us these immediate sessions. They are complying with co-op policy. We need to remember that. Make sure the sessions are truly inclusive. And then demand that attention is paid to the input, and that the process continues.

For the immediate sessions, ask your managers to make sure that we have enough information about WSM goals, plans and budget, so that we can then make meaningful input.

We should be involved (not just immediately, but each year going forward) in the decision-making that determines what money will be spent on, how much money is needed, what sales increases should be, what the margins should be, what the profit should be, what the dividend should be, how much should be made available for pay raises, and so on.

Again, as regards the immediate sessions, it is not enough that we have a show 'n tell, and then management disappears. We need available record of what input was offered, and then follow-up sessions to ensure that input affected the final decisions.

Going forward, we need an agreed process each year, to ensure that we workers continue to be involved in the decision-making about goals, plans and budget.

We also need regular department meetings. Say, four a year. Where full information is available. And where decisions are made consensually. Department meetings, which are not just about implementing management plans (as this week's Market Messenger suggests), but where employees are able to set at least half the agenda.

We have finally got management to admit that there is a co-op policy that demands that they allow all workers to be involved in decisions that affect the workplace. But they now seek to pretend that the policy refers only to matters that management wants to affect our workplace.

So, this week's Market Messenger talks only about issues like consistency of employee performance, productivity and training. That's fine for management. Not so much for we grunts.

In my workplace, I am affected by my workload, my pay, my hours, management performance and decision-making in which I am not involved. I want to talk about those matters too.

That only happens if there is a stated commitment to allow employees to set, say, half the agenda of regular department meetings.

Same thing goes with annual unit meetings. Too much of those meetings is taken up with corporate show 'n tell. In future, I would like to see, again, at least half the agenda of those meetings set by employees.

Right. That's enough to be getting on with. But remember, none of this is going to happen unless you speak up, too.

Remember too, what is in the Market Messenger is only a management summary of the communications survey results. The full results can be found on the WSM wiki page.

For example, management claim that there was only one response of 'everything' to the question 'what area of the workplace and business do we want to give input or ideas on?' Um. Crap. I read all the responses. Try: a whole bunch of similar replies ...

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Book - The Index - The Strut

So, my publisher contacts me today to seek advice on The Index for The Book. He has a list ...

Hang on. What?

He has a list ...

No. Before that.

Er. Book? Publisher?

No, no. In between ...





People. My Book. Is going. To have. An Index.

An Index.

Puff. Strut. Preen.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Economic Democracy On WCHL

Yes. Those were my dulcet English tones gently wafting through the ether courtesy of WCHL's 'Commentators' section at the crack of dawn the other morning [you can read the text here]. Of course, I wasn't up in the wee hours. Heck no. I like my sleep. I recorded this yesterday. At a sensible hour.
And so it was that WCHL very kindly, if a little unwisely, invited me to declaim about the lack of economic democracy in our local grocery co-op, where I am a worker-owner. And so. I did.
Of course, I maintain that I accept these offers in order to slay the dragons of oppression, advance the cause of people's rights, and fight for freemen and freewomen everywhere. But really, I'm just hoping that my soft English purr will get me a date.
However. No date to date. Just the whine about Weaver Street Market's style of financial decision-making. Which, to be fair, is always worth a good whine. Sigh. But hey. Who knows ... ??