Saturday, September 26, 2015

Hedge, Fudge, Stats, Lies

Oh dear. Another WSM employee Market Messenger. Another installment of Grimm's Fairy Tales.

I'm not sure which is worse. Making decisions without including workers, lying when announcing the decisions, or constantly co-opting the images and language of co-operation to describe an organization which stopped being a co-op a long time ago. It is now little better than WalMart with tattoo's. A private club, run by its corporate officers, for the benefit of their friends.

Can it change? Yes. More of that later. But, more to the point, why do I bother writing about it? Because I hate our co-op? C'mon. I wouldn't still be here if I did. Then why?

To bear witness. Look the corporate boys and girls can carry on trying to shed every last vestige of economic democracy from our shared co-op. But, so long as someone is bearing witness, they won't do it without being made to break a sweat.

So. To the Market Messenger. First up, much patting on the back for the owner's Co-op Fair. Oh Geoff. Surely you're not going to complain about an event that made 200 attendees happy?

That's the point. It's all gloss and glitter. Lookee. Happy people. Eating. Drinking. Dancing on the lawn. We must be a co-op. No. We're a grocery store, where people get stuffed, get drunk and fall about on a lawn.

If we were a co-op, we wouldn't replace the Annual Meeting of Owners, where owners get publicly to hold their corporate office to account, we wouldn't replace it with a cheese 'n wine. And owners would be sober enough, democratic enough and engaged enough to know the difference.

Secondly, we employees are told that, having replaced our paychecks with payroll cards, we are now not even going to get the paystub to tell us how much we've been paid.

Once again, enter corporate deflection. Gosh, we're doing this to save the Amazon rain forest. No. You're doing it in order to save the payroll company money, so they charge you less, so you pocket the money without telling us.

But, but that increases the worker-owner dividend. No. It doesn't. Not if we workers are excluded from the decision-making that lies behind setting the worker-owner dividend. In breach of explicit co-op policy.

But then, I forgot. According to our managers (at least two of whom reminded us of the fact, at our store meeting a couple of weeks ago), we minion workers are too stupid to understand the complexity of corporate financials.

And so on. And so on.

But there is good news. I told you I would come to it. We can make a difference. The 220 of us (out of a total workforce of 250) who are worker-owners can vote in the current election for a Worker-Owner Board Director. But, you gotta do it before this Tuesday.

Now. I have my preference of the three candidates. But, guess what? Provided we all vote, it really doesn't matter who you vote for. Provided it isn't for the candidate who has his office in the corporate HQ ten feet from the WSM General Manager. If you are not immediately clear who that is, write to me.

We have enough votes to get either one of the other two elected. And if we do, we will have on the Board - finally - someone who is actually responsive to the needs of the workers, in this co-op which is half-owned by those workers.

So, for the love of all things still vaguely co-operative, please vote.

[P.S, I included the graphic from the new WSM web-site, because it's like playing Waldo. Spot the co-op that isn't ... ]