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,