Thursday, July 30, 2015

New Paycheck System - Benefiting Whom?

Two Januaries ago, I had exchanges with the WSM Human Resources Manager about management introducing a new paycheck system which I felt did not benefit workers.

Well. They delayed implementation. Holding a consultation exercise first, since I insisted this was WSM co-op policy. You know. The one I keep on about: including employees in decision-making.

I have no clue what the outcome of that exercise was. But. Here we are some 18 months later, and the scheme is now being implemented for certain. I continue to have concerns, and wrote our HR Manager an e-mail this morning:

"Hey Deborah,

Thank you for the information about the new Aline Card. You will know from previous correspondence that I do not want my paycheck to be direct deposited. I have had problems with banks going weird on me in the past. And I want control over when I place my funds in my bank account. On a wider note, there may well be employees who do not have bank accounts.

Which brings me to the Aline Card. I have no problem with the Aline Card, provided it acts precisely as if it were a plastic paycheck. In other words, I get to deposit when I choose, I can deposit the whole amount into my bank account, and there are no charges or delays whatsoever.

So, two questions, along with a request generally that you can assure me of the above:

1) You say there are no charges. Are you sure my bank will not make a charge? If it does, will WSM cover it in future paychecks?

2) When I deposit my paycheck, I may receive cash immediately, and the remainder of the funds are available the next business day. Is this also the case with the Aline Card? The information seems to suggest I have to wait up to three days.

Many thanks,

There is another point. Which I know from my great and inglorious corporate past, when I acted as a business consultant for a computer software company, specializing in data and check processing for banks.

Funds, wherever they may be, earn interest. If they are in your bank account, they may earn interest for you. If they are in someone else's account, they earn interest for them. When your pay sits on an Aline Card, it is not earning interest for you. They tell us that. Which means, your paycheck is either earning interest for WSM or ADP.

You might want to ask for that interest. Which could be as much as $450 a year.

[In accordance with WSM Employee Policy, it is incumbent upon me to reassure readers that I do not kill lions in the wild, I will not be voting for Donald Trump, and these are my personal views.]

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Co-op Plan Event for Workers - The Attendance

So. I attended the Weaver Street Market ‘Co-op Plan Event’ for WSM employees. Was it worth it? Yes. Could it now be better? Yes.

The Event was much better than I expected. And a huge ‘thank you’ to all of my fellow WSM workers who clearly put in much effort to make the Event as worker-friendly as it could be.

Just to digress from the lovefest for a moment. And likely to cause a teeny amount of controversy, before returning to the group tickle.

This Event was not a stand-alone occurrence. It is the continuing culmination of a process I began about three years ago, with two formal complaints, bringing to the attention of the WSM General Manager that he and WSM management were in breach of the WSM Board Policy requiring that employees be included in decision-making within WSM.

I have been with WSM for ten years now. For nine of those years, I have been openly campaigning for more democratic involvement of owners, workers and consumers in the rather curious hybrid consumer-worker co-op that is WSM.

This Event was the most interactive, useful and interesting opportunity that workers have been given in that time to offer meaningful input to management on how we would like our co-op to go about our business.

However, the fact remains that we still have a side-step/middleman mindset in our co-op about how worker/consumer/owner involvement is supposed to operate.

For whatever reason, senior management believe they should be in control of all that occurs. While obtaining feedback from owners, consumers and workers. In the manner senior management wants. When it wants it. At arm’s length.

Senior management comfort themselves with the notion that WSM is a co-op because it is owned by the community. The definition of co-operation offered by the International Co-operative Alliance, which definition is the norm, and is supported by WSM, is that a co-op is only a co-op if is also democratically controlled by the community. Not just owned. Controlled. Not by senior management. By the community. Which in the case of WSM primarily means its workers and consumers.

In the case of WSM, this need for worker control is enshrined in the aforementioned Board Policy. So, as much of an advance as this Event was, there is still a ways to go. Garnering our feedback in a pleasant, inclusive, comprehensive environment, while welcome, is not the same thing as studiously involving workers in the consequential decision-making itself. It is that sidestep. Senior management remaining the middleman between worker and decision.

Ok. That was the lecture part. Now back to the Event itself. And a slap on the wrist for some fellow workers. Nothing is perfect. The Event and compliance with Board Policy generally can be improved. But when we are offered something, take part. You achieve nothing by archly standing on the sidelines refusing to condone imperfection.

The running theme of the Event was that co-op’s differ from traditional corporatist grocery stores by spending as much time worrying about how we do business, as doing the business itself. No complaints there.

Our General Manager, Ruffin Slater, told us that we should take pride in the fact that we are a co-op because we concern ourselves with our societal impact. No complaints there, either.

Where we differ is on what we regard as important societal impact. What impact it is that makes us a co-op.

Hmm. Ruffin and I spent a deal of time talking with each other. In different snatches. I told him that, as much as he and I might be truly fascinated with the mechanics of governance. And we might take the view that this was the essence of co-operation. Different co-operators have different opinions about what it is that makes WSM a co-op.

For some, it is local food. For others, healthy food. Many focus on environmental impact. No one approach is right. That is the beauty of economic democracy. We are all equal. We are all right. And we have to honor that.

Which said, I make no secret of the fact that it is my belief that the contribution co-operation makes, especially in the aftermath of the Great Recession, is to offer an alternative to financial profit-driven capitalism with economic democracy. Where the toxic excesses of corporatism are reined in by the insistence that co-op’s be owned and controlled by their communities.

And I took the opportunity to splatter my thoughts in such regard all over the displays inviting feedback on governance.

Main thing happening here is that the WSM Board are considering tweaking the Mission Statement of WSM.

First thing I pointed out is that it is for owners to set the Mission Statement, not the Board. The President of the US does not tweak the Constitution. That is for the People to do.

There were a couple of interesting documents to that end. Ruffin confirmed to me that these documents will be available to all owners on the WSM web site in due course. And that owners will be fully consulted.

Um. I gently gave Ruffin notice that, if this was not the case, Geoff’s trusty smartphone and blog would once again be put to good use.

For myself, I made the further point, by way of Post-It, that the tweaked Mission Statement should more clearly state that it was the ambition of WSM to allow owners the opportunity to control the operations of WSM, not just serve it, as the draft Mission Statement preferred.

Getting back to my chats with Ruffin, I asked him if the Event would be repeated. He indicated that he wanted to move to a situation where involving folks in the conversation was more of a rolling process, and included consumers as well as workers. Again, no complaints there.

I asked him if the input would be made available. Yes, came the response. And just so we all know. This isn’t a case of pushing a big red button. Several fellow workers from the WSM admin office have to spend a not inconsiderable amount of time typing this stuff up by hand. 600 separate pieces of input, at last count. My admiration and sympathy to them. This input will be available online.

Ruffin and I then danced around a bit about the concept of feedback versus being included in decision-making in a way that demonstrates the impact of worker involvement.

I concede and conceded that there is a balance to be struck that is not easy. I gave Ruffin notice that the issue upon which I would be focusing for a while was inclusion of workers in determining the amount of profit to be set aside each year for improvement to pay increases, worker benefits and worker-owner dividend, and the apportionment between the three.

Ruffin made the valid point. Look Geoff, you and I could arbitrarily say, let’s increase pay by 15%. But it owes nothing to context. Agreed.

Management have to be involved as middlemen to the extent of laying the groundwork of identifying the numbers and then offering options. However, there is a thin dividing line between that honest approach to including workers in decision-making. And management skewing the ‘inclusion,’ by offering ‘options’ which are, in fact, fait accompli.

On this specific issue, I raised with Ruffin the fact that we already had a part of the process in place. Each year, our Human Resources Manager conducts a genuine pre-decision consultative exercise to garner from workers their views on what options they would prefer with regards to the provision of worker benefits.

Why not, I asked Ruffin, why not extend that process to providing all the information needed to understand the finances of our co-op, along with options as to what we workers would like by way of pay increases, benefits and dividend, and what we would wish to be the balance between the three?

Workers to be meaningfully included in determining how much of the money we earn be set aside as the ‘worker’s pot,’ and then how it be divvied up.

I’m not entirely sure I got through on this one. We’ll see. But one interesting stat that Ruffin brought to my attention: our turnover rate is 10%. Which is apparently quite low. So, folks seem to like something about working at WSM!

Beyond all this highfalutin interaction, I did take the time to offer some thoughts on the Southern Village mini-redevelopment, the new signature sandwich and energy saving. So, it wasn’t all high tone governance!

Next up. Store meetings in August. When the conversation should continue. Stay involved. Look past the presentation, work out the points that are important to you, and find a way to make them.

And remember this. At any given moment in our co-op of 250 workers. There are 250 people with totally different viewpoints as to what could make our co-op better.

Honor the other opinions. Without forgetting that each of us believes what we believe strongly. We will present it with gusto. Do not let that put you off calmly offering your thoughts. Cos, if you don’t stick your hand up, you will find your livelihood being designed by the person standing next to you. That’s the way of democracy!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Worker-Owner Democracy: Geoff Dropped A Clanger

Oops. Just goes to show you can't always believe what you are told - however seemingly authoritative the source. I am now informed there are multiple candidates in the election for Worker-Owner Board Director this year. Excellent!

So. First thing, I wrote to the WSM Board, the WSM Elections Committee and every other person in the universe I wrote to so furiously last evening. And grovelled graciously.

But secondly, you know, I'm not so sure the points I made aren't still valid. So, I left up the original post. Sigh. At least somebody, somewhere once said, if you ain't making mistakes, you ain't pushing the envelope.

In the meantime, I am looking forward to seeing those election addresses ...

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Time To Invest In Worker-Owner Democracy

"Dear Board and Elections Committee of WSM,

I wish this e-mail to be forwarded to the full Board and Elections Committee of Weaver Street Market Co-operative.

My friends, for the fourth time in five years, the election for Worker-Owner Director will this year be uncontested. This is not a sign of a healthy democracy. It is a consequence of the fact that our co-op does not invest properly in worker-owner democracy.

Almost all of the governance activity of our co-op is financed by operations. Which is to say that senior management effectively decide what aspects of governance will be financed, and which not.

This is the wrong way round. Governance should be the master of management, not its servant. The Board's budget is in the tens of thousands of dollars. In a co-op which this year will likely have a turnover exceeding $40 million. This is ridiculous.

What is worse, the Board in the past year actually congratulated itself for reducing its budget. For why, I ask? That budget is not just for the Board. It should be for the entire governance apparatus of our co-op.

What does this mean for worker-owners? Essentially this. If you undertake work to improve the governance of our co-op, which work is sanctioned by senior management, you get paid. If it is not formally sanctioned, you do not get paid.

If you serve as a Worker-Owner Board Director, you receive remuneration. If you attend a Board meeting, only to discover you are in disagreement with what is happening, and you seek to protest, you may protest, but no remuneration.

Those worker-owners who organize Board meetings are paid. Not the worker-owner observers. Those who serve on the Elections Committee are remunerated. Those who follow, are not.

The Board and its Elections Committee have gone to considerable lengths in recent years to try to encourage more worker-owners to get involved in governance. And here's the irony. Those organizing the consequential efforts, such as the Leadership Sessions, get paid. Not those we are urging to attend.

I repeat. If we want greater involvement from our worker-owners in governance, then we as a co-op must be willing to invest in their involvement.

And here's the important part. Without that investment being pre-determined by the view of management on the nature of governance involvement.

Investment must be independent of management. If you contribute to governance, there should be a process of remuneration. Management should not have a veto simply because they don't like the nature of the contribution.

How can we give effect to this sentiment? We can start immediately with this current election. Since it is going to be uncontested, why not use the election table sessions in each unit as a broader attempt to find out from worker-owners how they would like the co-op to encourage their involvement in governance activity?

And. Demand that management find a way to allow all worker-owners who are interested to take part in these sessions. And. Pay for those worker-owners who are not on the schedule already to come in and attend these sessions.

Next. Demand of senior management that they finally give effect to the co-op policy which requires that the General Manager include all workers in decisions that affect them and their workplace. I can think of no decision more important in this regard than the decision about how much money the Board will be given to engage in and encourage governance activity among workers.

Another irony. I have been campaigning on this latter issue for three years now. Namely, compliance with the Board policy requiring that employees be included in decision-making. But all of this campaigning has been undertaken on my unpaid time. As with the writing of this e-mail.

I have clearly contributed. For the recent Employee Communications Survey was the first concrete result of my campaigning. As are the current Co-op Plan Events. However, I receive no remuneration.

I do not care for myself that I am offered no remuneration for my contribution to the governance of the co-op. My concern is to get others involved.

And this will only happen if the Board makes a conscious decision to demand that it be given a sufficient budget so that it, and not senior management, can be responsible for organizing and financing the governance activity of worker-owners.

I look forward to hearing views.

Yours truly,

The Universe, My Book And British National Security

There is an article in this morning's London 'Independent' newspaper with the headline: "Northern Ireland authorities refuse to reveal details of paedophile with links to former government adviser on national security grounds".

The article underscores how the connections between the evolving revelations about high-level corruption within the British body politic are increasingly complex, and yet rendered tremendously simple if you read my book.

The article confirms how the corruption of British Intelligence began in the Eighties. When it simply decided that its primary function was not the protection of the state, but rather its subversion. So as to make money. Through activities like arms dealing and hiring itself out as America's surrogate covert operations executive. And how this corruption began in Northern Ireland.

The article further underlines how this corruption then spread to the British mainland through a series of interlinking high-level networks. How it infiltrated the entirety of the British establishment. Turning the City of London into a money-laundering center. And a succession of British governments into glorified gun-runners.

[And by the way, three paragraphs in a row beginning 'The article.' Clearly my writing skills are improving ... ]

Folks have wondered why there are reports of British Intelligence wanting to cover up revelations about high-level pedophile rings. The answer, in my opinion, is not so much the pedophile activity itself, but rather that the networks are so inter-connected that exposure of one will lead to the uncovering of the others.

I am not surprised to read that 'the authorities' are refusing to talk about pedophile activity on the grounds of 'national security.' With respect to my own investigation into the mysterious death of my friend Hugh Simmonds, I came up against a similar dichotomy.

On the one hand, the police, the Law Society and the government swore up hill and down dale that Hugh was just a simple failed lawyer, failed politician and failed businessman, who got greedy, got caught and took the easy way out.

And yet, two British Prime Ministers, through their Principal Private Secretaries, on no less than five occasions, specifically refused to talk about Hugh's activities on the grounds of national security - see above pic.

The universe is a funny old thing. And tragic as well. It has taken me 27 years of hard slog, dangerous face-to-face encounters and painstaking research to put together the seemingly simple explanation of tragic and complex interactions described in this small post.

And then, at the very moment I am about to be published, the dam bursts, and revelations aplenty appear left, right and center, underpinning the central claims of my book.

A former Home Office Minister in Great Britain takes up the cause. And introduces me to one of the award-winning journalists who first broke the story about historic establishment child abuse in the UK, and who is now planning to write an article about my book for a national UK newspaper.

Score one for justice. And two for the universe. Huh. That''s it really. One big, fat huh ...

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

WCHL - 2nd Carrboro Community Forum On Policing

Well. WCHL, Carrboro/Chapel Hill's News, Talk and Tar Heels radio station, once again invited me to offer a 'Commentary.' This time, my reflections on the Carrboro Community Forum on Policing held on June 29. The broadcast went out yesterday. If you missed it, you can hear my dulcet tones here.

Now, bless their eternal hearts. Their heading on the WCHL site is 'Community policing in Carrboro - It’s a good concept.' Oh dear. Which only serves to underline how difficult it is to understand a simple concept, sometimes precisely because it is simple.

I am not advocating for community policing. For policing by the community. Policing is a complex undertaking, which requires years of training and experience. No. I am advocating that, in order to be certain that the manner of the policing undertaken has the fullest support of the community, the policing approach itself is designed and monitored jointly by the police and the community they serve.

I am advocating citizen design of policing, not community policing. But. No matter. It will take time for the concept to take hold. If you want to know a tad more about what citizen design is, and why I think it will work, well, listen to the podcast. The text of which is below:

"The Second Carrboro Community Forum on Policing on June 29 was a success. A lot of very different views were expressed. People went away frustrated, anxious and despondent because there was next to no meeting of minds. But they were all determined to come back and continue the process. That was the success.

I was very encouraged that no less than six police officers attended, and almost all contributed. This is good.

It is my opinion that citizen design of policing will only be meaningful if it is an equal and respectful conversation between police, elected officials from their funding agency (the Board of Aldermen) and concerned citizens. And that conversation will only be meaningful if it includes an articulate police presence.

In the meantime, the Carrboro police, if Monday evening was an indication, are worried. And defensive. Not unlike many good police departments across the nation, they feel offended that the years of training and experience and good policing that they feel they can evidence is not immediately, honestly and fully acknowledged and supported.

I, for one, do openly acknowledge the extraordinary, complex and difficult job undertaken by police at the behest of our community. But that is the point, both in Carrboro, and across America, police are public employees undertaking their job at the behest of the community, and with its consent. We are entitled to revisit that behest and that consent.

But how on earth can civilians possibly know what is involved in proper policing? We don’t have to. The only requirement for citizens to discuss the policing approach in their community is how they want to be policed. Period.

But why should citizens design the policy for the police department when they seek no interest in doing so for transport departments or the fire service? Because planning officials don’t carry guns, tasers and handcuffs, that’s why.

What do police get out of this new process? Renewed respect from and the trust of all in the community.

So, to the next steps. Again, speaking personally, I do not want any more forums which are simply show ’n tell sessions with the Police Chief. I want us to start moving towards working agendas, where we all proactively begin the process of reviewing, designing and monitoring policing policy in Carrboro. To that end, I proposed a motion, which received qualified support. And I invited all police officers to vote. They are citizens, too. Never forget that. The motion:

"This meeting of concerned Carrboro citizens believes that, henceforth, policing policy in Carrboro should be designed by the elected officials of the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, in conjunction with the Carrboro Police Department, and that such design should take place in an open and transparent manner, involving those concerned Carrboro citizens who wish to participate."

I will be meeting further with Carrboro Aldermen. I will be advocating for more regular forums, and for agendas to specify policy areas to be discussed.

My friends, this process is going to take time to implement. People are wary. Naturally. But, we’re still talking. And that eventually will lead to the trust that will be required to give meaning to the concept of citizen design of policing."

[And if you are wondering why the weird pics, well, today would have been the 114th birthday of Eiji Tsuburaya, one of the co-creators of the original Godzilla series. Thought I'd set everything in context ... ]

Friday, July 3, 2015

Co-op Plan Event: The Exchange

Forget blast and damn. We've moved onto sh*t. Sigh. Exchange with the General Manager of the Weaver Street Market Co-operative, in response to my e-mail about the co-op policy which demands that WSM employees be involved in WSM decision-making. Why is this so difficult?:


"Hi Geoff,

Thanks for your email. It may be the the Market Messenger article is not descriptive enough, but I think that the Co-op Plan event is going to be a great opportunity to share what is happening, to get employee input to improve what is happening, and to build alignment and excitement so that WSM can have an even bigger impact. I think it is going to be interesting, fun, and interactive. It's designed to address as many parts of WSM as possible from particular products to the overall mission. It's designed to be modular so that different parts can happen with different groups including consumer owners over time. I hope that it sparks all of us to contribute, critique, and engage more. I hope that participants leave saying that it's the best yet and that we should do it again soon. At the same time, I'm sure that since that it is a new event there will be lot's of room for improvement, and I very much want participants who come to each session to share ideas about how to make the next ones better.



"Dear Ruffin,

Short version: no.

Longer version: sigh.

If WSM policy was a clean slate on the issue of involving stakeholders in the process of decision-making, a blank page, then I would say of Co-op Plan Event, and your last e-mail, bravo.

But WSM policy is not a blank page with respect to involving employees in decision-making. If you think it is, then say so. But what I see is a Board Policy, re-iterated on the first page of every Employee Policy Handbook (so you obviously want employees to know about it), a Board Policy called 'Treatment of Staff,' which states "[The General Manager'] may not ... For paid staff, cause or allow a decision-making standard that is not transparent or does not allow for opportunity to participate in decisions and shape the guidelines for decisions."

Maybe you take the view that there are some co-op policies that do not need to be complied with. If so, please say so, because there are a couple of co-op policies I'd be happy to ignore.

Maybe you think co-op policies do not apply to senior management. If so, please say so. Because I'd be happy to discuss that principle with you in front of the Board.

It can't be that you don't think that this co-op policy is important, because in 2007, you very specifically held a full consultation exercise with all employees about precisely which decisions should be covered by this policy, and you then produced a document that sets out what those decision areas are. If you need a copy of that document to refresh your memory, I can supply it.

It can't seriously be that you think you are not in breach of this policy, because there have been a whole host of decisions, specifically in the past couple of years, that were taken without employee input, many of which are enunciated in my formal complaints to you.

Maybe there is some confusion between us over what is meant by "allow for opportunity to participate in decisions"? Hmm. I don't think so. In that 2007 document, you say the following: "If an upcoming decision falls into one of these categories, a decision-making grid will be published in the market messenger ... " I do not think a Co-op Plan Event, with food-tasting, tours and an 'informal conversation' you hope will spark some sort of undefined interest in the future, somewhere, somehow, could be mistaken for a quantifiable, definitive decision-making grid.

I am unable to make my next point by way of reference to something you have said, but I know that I saw it in a Market Messenger this past year. It is this point. In order to be in compliance with this co-op policy, it is not enough to have some sort of vague input process that has some vague reference to a co-op issue. There has to be a specific issue, upon which employees have been properly informed, and upon which their views are formally sought (hence talk of grid), all of this before the decision is taken, so that employees can witness that their input has had demonstrable impact upon the decision taken. Otherwise, we are not involved. We are merely massaged.

I get no sense that Co-op Plan Event, for all the obvious hard work that is being put in, is other than a massive massage session. This is not complying with the co-op policy in question.

To revert to the beginning of my e-mail. If WSM policy was a clean slate on the issue of involving employees in decision-making, I would say of Co-op Plan Event, well done. And I would spend my time congratulating you. And thanking all those who have undoubtedly put in a lot of hard work.

But WSM policy is not a blank page on the issue of involving employees in decision-making. Co-op Plan Event appears just to be a massage, albeit a pleasant one. And as "interesting, fun and interactive" as it may be, it will not put you in compliance with co-op policy, and it will not meet the requirements of my still extant formal complaint.

So. Co-op Plan Event will be what it will be. I will be attending on July 15. I suspect that what I am going to be presented with is a host of decisions already taken. And my informal commentary then sought. That will not be complying with the co-op policy in question, and it will not meet the requirements of my formal complaint. But I will at least hold off until I have experienced the Event itself. I might be wrong.

If I am not wrong, then to be blunt, Ruffin, we have danced on this issue long enough. It is time for you to offer demonstrable compliance with a very specific co-op policy and follow-up consultative document. To meet the requirements of my valid formal complaint, I really do want now to have you address the employees of this co-op formally on the issue of how and when you will be implementing that co-op policy.

Again, if you seriously believe that Co-op Plan Event is such demonstrable compliance, then I have formally to say, I disagree, and we waste no more time, and simply advance my formal complaint to the Board, which I will wish to address personally. Such advance is appeal, not a review.

If you have other steps in mind - and I have made suggestions, such as the unit meetings - then please tell me what they are. In any event, I think it now fair to say, either I see such address by you, in person or in writing, to all employees, by the time of this year's Annual Owner's Meeting, or I will wish my formal complaint advanced to the Board, so that I may ask them to direct you so to address the employees.

I am sorry to be so blunt. But I get the feeling this co-op policy is being played with, not seriously addressed. In which regard, I will be publishing our exchange. I thought seriously of holding off, to see if something more could be achieved. But I get no sense (yet) that you truly understand that Co-op Plan Event is not complying with the co-op policy in question. And, in my opinion, that needs to be stated publicly. And now.

All the best,

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Co-op Plan Event: The Bridge To Nowhere?

Sigh. Blast. Damn. Sigh. Got this week's Weaver Street Market Co-op Market Messenger for WSM employees. An item about the immediately upcoming Co-op Plan Events(s) for WSM employees, at which we were told we were going to be able meaningfully to be involved in decision-making about WSM strategy, plans, goals and budget for next year. Not so much. E-mail to the General Manager. Why oh why can we not stay on course, just for once? Sigh again:

"Dear Ruffin,

I do want a response to this e-mail, please.

I am very concerned by a sentence in this week's Market Messenger. It reads: "It [the Co-op Plan Event] will be interactive with more time devoted to touring displays and informal conversation about our initiatives."

Whatever may be the timetable of events in your mind, this is the timeline in mine:

Two threads of formal complaint begun by me in the past two years over a number of issues where I say (and it has never been refuted) that senior co-op management is in breach of co-op policy which demands that employees be involved in decision-making that affects them and their workplace.

You arrive in the SV store earlier this year with a draft questionnaire which appears to ask employees how they want to be so involved. Some 174 (?) people respond. I read the responses. Front and center, we want to be involved in all decision-making that affects us, and we want that involvement to have meaningful effect.

Co-op Plan Event. Yippee! Billed as opportunity for workers to be involved in big picture planning of strategy, goals and budget for next year. Double yippee!

Since which time, successive Market Messengers have downgraded the involvement. First, the sessions are only going to be one and a quarter hours in length, and there's going to be food-tasting. Hmm. And now, well, actually the conversation is only going to be informal, and geez, we might be spending a lot of time doing some touring. Yikes!

Ok. Let's go back to basics. My last formal complaint is still outstanding. It was held pending by me depending on steps taken by you to set up a process to involve employees meaningfully in decision-making.

Questionnaire. Good. Response. Good. Co-op Plan Event. Excellent. Downgrading. No.

I would like answers to the following questions please. No answers, or answers that do not evidence a clear path towards meaningfully involvement of employees in decision-making, and my formal complaint will be revived and I will wish it immediately forwarded to the Board, in accordance with co-op policy:

1) Will there be substantive opportunity for employees to engage at the Co-op Plan Event in formal discussion about strategy for next year's goals, plans and budget?

2) Will that discussion be permitted the opportunity to affect such strategy, or has it already been set?

3) Will Co-op Plan Event, or something similar be held each year going forward, on a regular basis?

4) If so, will there be better opportunity for employees to have formal input at the same into strategy, goals, plans and budget, such that it has impact on the same?

5) Will you at the Co-op Plan Event (all of them) explain to gathered employees how you intend, as General Manager, to implement the policy contained in Board Policy 'Treatment of Staff,' which demands that employees be involved in decision-making, which implementation is your personal obligation under Board procedure and rules, which hold you personally accountable for not allowing the co-op to be in breach of Board Policy?

6) If you do not intend to address (5) at the Co-op Plan Event, will you voluntarily do so at the separate unit meetings later this year? If not, will you allow me to attend unit meetings, and address a 15 minute item on each agenda on the subject?

7) If none of this, or not all of it, will you please now formally address me on how you intend to implement the co-op policy which requires that employees be involved in decision-making that affects them and their workplace?

It is great that we have got this far. Could have wished it was easier. But it is great. However, it counts for nothing, if, having got here, you allow the final step to be sidetracked by "touring displays and informal conversation." That is not what the co-op policy demands. Nor food tasting. Nor raffles. It demands involvement in decision-making. It is time to deal with that. Substantively, please. Or we go back to the formal complaint, with respect.

All the best,