GRASSROOTS ACTION IS POWERFUL!

Posted by Laura Hagen, HWFC Member-Owner

Here are today’s Grassroots-Grows-Capacity Action Steps:

1. The emergency Special Membership Meeting (SMM) called for by HWFC member-owners is a go on Monday, November 30 from 4:30-6:00pm (Meet the Candidates) and 6:00-9:00pm (meeting). Here is the formal meeting announcement: https://hwfcinfohub.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/special-membership-meeting-11-30-2015-revised-11-16.pdf

2. Read the Broadside, below: A Message for HWFC Staff Who Are Also Fellow Member-Owners

3. Volunteer to sit at our table at HWFC. Volunteers are needed to sit at the informational table next to the Juice & Java Bar. We need to be there to inform other member-owners about the emergency Special Membership Meeting. It’s nice to have 2 or 3 people there at all times. The store opens at 8am and closes at 10pm.

Please just show up, if you are able — even if you can’t contact Paula Weiss (below) ahead of time. Some materials are provided at the table or are stored behind the Help Desk.

Member-owners: you may also bring your own materials. Print up the Notice of the SMM, website URL slips, Kate’s Talking Points, the Broadside, below. Clipboards, a sharpie, tape, scissors, pens, scrap paper, water, and snack also come in handy. T-shirts may be available at the table to help promote this grassroots effort as well. We ask that you wear your t-shirt at the store when you show up for your member-owner shift and at all HWFC meetings.

Ask fellow member-owners if they want to be added to our contact list and email blast list. There is a clipboard for that purpose.

Please contact Paula Weiss if you can volunteer: paulabweiss@gmail.com

 

~Another Broadside~
~A Message for HWFC Staff Who Are Also Fellow Member-Owners~

This is a message to the staff of HWFC, including the many, many staff members who are fellow member-owners of our co-operative.

Up until two days ago – when the formal Notice for the emergency Special Membership Meeting (SMM) was made public – we had no way to speak to you – as a group – and let you know why we member-owner petitioners were calling for a Special Membership Meeting.

Our hands were tied. Until we dotted every single i and crossed every single t – with our own group, with the Governance Review Council (GRC) and the board – we could not discuss the emergency SMM.

We had to insure, first, that the meeting was, indeed and in fact, going to take place.

Up until then, we had been hearing about the rumors circulating among staff (about us), that we: want to have all staff fired… …we want to replace all paid staff with all working member-owners… …we and our SMM are a threat to HWFC… …all we are doing is disrupting business-as-usual… …trouble makers… …bunch of angry people… …bunch of aging hippies reliving our “fight the establishment” / Power to the People youth.

We have also been told by several employees, in confidence, about the things that staff has been told in staff meetings about us and our motives, things which we knew were untrue. We could not set the record straight, however, until the SMM was made formally & legally official as per our bylaws.

Our hands were tied in a second way. We have been desperately trying to communicate with all HWFC member-owners since October 24th. If you read this post (https://hwfcinfohub.wordpress.com/2015/11/11/grassroots-action-is-powerful-2/), you will understand that we were being actively prevented from getting clear messages out to all our fellow member-owners, including those who are also staff of our co-operative.

It is not for lack of trying that you didn’t hear from us!

Member-owners in our co-operative corporation are given the option to call for a SMM by our bylaws. This right has rarely been exercised in the history of our own co-operative. It is exercised when a crisis or an emergency is imminent and the member-owners see the need to take action. It often involves the member-owners halting the moves of a wayward board, when the board’s actions are a threat to the co-operative corporation.

The crisis moment for us came when we read that small piece of paper & the board’s motion, tacked up to the board’s bulletin board – on Friday afternoon, October 23, 2015.

Here is the full text of that motion, as quoted from the minutes of the Tuesday, October 20, 2015 HWFC board meeting. It was one of two passed by the board after it exited a 2 1/2+ hour, secret executive session meeting which included all nine (9) members of the board, all three (3) members of the Leadership Team, three (3) lawyers representing two (2) different law firms and three (3) consultants. Member-owners were excluded from this secret executive session, and there was no input from member-owners before the two motions passed:

Consistent with the Bylaws Task Force recommendation, the Board will end member labor on the floor and administration by January 1, 2016. The Board will make a good faith effort to engage the membership in the process. [1]

We member-owners took immediate action. Grassroots phone calls, texts and emails brought more than 80 people to the first (of many) of the board’s Information Sessions, the following morning, Saturday. Member-owners demanded to know just what the devil the board thought it was doing by trying to end a right which only member-owners can change: the right to work in our co-operative, which maintains our right to vote.

Chris Colarusso came prepared with a petition and, by the end of that day (!), had handed the acting board president a fully-executed petition, with more than 65 signatures, calling for an emergency Special Membership Meeting.

Since then, it has been a grassroots effort to try to communicate with ALL member-owners and alert them to the danger to our co-operative corporation. This wonderful website (thank you to the HWFCinfohub team!); our Co-op Community Communicates Compassionately (4C) google-groups list; our member-owner email blast list (thanks for both to Jessica Rae and her team!) (https://hwfcinfohub.wordpress.com/get-connected/ ); wonderful word-of-mouth(!); photocopies & clipboards; petitioners petitioning (some out in the rain & cold); member-owners attending the many, daily board Info Sessions; day-glo orange t-shirts which went like hotcakes… have all been grassroots efforts, initiated by fellow working member –owners, who simply, immediately saw the need and stepped up to the plate.

All these fellow member-owners – themselves – hold jobs; have families and responsibilities; children or aging parents for whom they care; and upcoming holidays to prepare for.

Until two days ago – that is for 25 agonizing days – we were prevented from talking to our fellow member-owner staffers.

Now, finally, we ask that you read our Notice of an emergency Special Membership Meeting. You can read for yourself that our petition has nothing whatsoever to do with the staff of our co-operative: https://hwfcinfohub.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/special-membership-meeting-11-30-2015-revised-11-16.pdf

Fellow member-owner staffers, our emergency SMM petition has to do, exclusively, with the actions of the Leadership Team, LT (upper management) and the board of directors of HWFC. It was an immediate & decisive response to the blatant threat posed to our co-operative corporation.

Our emergency SMM is calling for an election to determine the removal of each Director from the Board of Directors. It is calling for elections to fill each vacated seat. It is calling for a vote to recommend to the new board that it research and consider a different management structure. It is calling for a member review and vote on a finding of no confidence in the members of the leadership team and request that the board initiate review, pursuant to the employee manual, regarding each member of the leadership team.

Finally, it is calling for a vote from the member-owners of our co-operative to formally put down the board’s attempt to alter and/or end member-owners’ right to work, and thereby, to vote. That is: we are asking for a vote to affirm that it is the member-owners of this co-operative corporation who own the right to change our member-owner labor program. That right rests solely and unambiguously with us, per our bylaws.

Per the bylaws, a Special Membership Meeting is an official function of the co-operative corporation.  There are no additional ballots or agenda items which can be added to a Special Membership Meeting. From the moment 65+ people signed the petition on October 24, our SMM agenda was set in stone and formed the basis of the Notice which you are reading, today.

Therefore, fellow member-owner staffers of Honest Weight Food Co-op, I hope you now understand that our actions, from the beginning, had absolutely nothing to do with the staff of our co-operative. If you were told differently, that information was incorrect.

Let’s continue to keep working together, side-by-side, at the co-op! We’ll be wearing our day-glo orange t-shirts which proclaim: Proud Owner-Worker HWFC Let’s Chat! We could try to be “more efficient” <smile> ! I think you know we are well-aware that that complaint did not originate with you.

By working together we will continue to keep our co-operative corporation strong and resilient.

Please attend the emergency SMM on Monday night, November 30, 2015. This date was not our first choice, as it is the Monday after Thanksgiving: however, we needed to work with the board on setting the date.

The decision to force this disruptive, disturbing agenda upon co-op families at this time of year rests solely upon the shoulders of the board; it was the board’s decision to initiate this agenda on October 20th, knowing we all have family & holiday obligations.

Our action was simply a decisive response to an agenda set in motion by the board.

We want you to know that we lobbied hard to have the co-op close the evening of our emergency Special Membership Meeting, so that all member-owners could be present to listen, consider and vote. We lost. Perhaps, you, on your end – with your two new employee reps to the board – can lobby for the store to be closed on the evening of November 30th, from 4:00pm on. We’re with ya 100%!

The general public, I’m sure, would be quite sympathetic, understanding that we have important co-operative corporation business to attend to.

We have a thing of great resiliency built into our co-operative: people, neighbors, families, friends. Go research American food co-operatives. They have a long and respected 200+ year-old history in our country! Families helping other families – working together – to help each other survive and thrive.

Our co-op is a part of that living tradition! Let’s keep it strong from within. Let’s fight to keep our co-operative locally-owned & locally-operated. And let’s fight to keep it a co-operative, the thing about HWFC that makes it so special and so great.

We are not just a grocery store; we are a community. We are a living, breathing part of that 200 year-old American co-operative history, with strong ties to the local farm families – all around us! – who provide our families with the organic or “Farmers’ Pride,” sustainable, high-quality, whole foods we all want.

Let’s strengthen those ties to local farm families and let’s strengthen our ties to each other. HWFC was started 39 years ago by local people with vision. Let’s honor that vision, together. Hope to see you on November 30th at 4:30 pm at St. Sophia’s!

BTW, check back in. Tomorrow’s post will continue the conversation about the 2nd of the two motions passed by the board after it exited the 2 1/2+ hour, secret executive session meeting on October 20, 2015. We’ll look at these two votes, the groups who were present (or excluded) from this secret meeting, and the fact that the HWFC board and LT are utilizing not one (1) but two (2) law firms (!) and (at least) three (3) consultants …that we know of.

I wonder how much these lawyers and consultants are costing the Honest Weight Food Co-op’s bottom line? …Lawyers and consultants, who, clearly, are not working in the best interest of the member-owners of this co-operative corporation and whom we are all – like it or not – paying for.

 

[1] HWFC member-owners, please go to the HWFC website at http://www.honestweight.coop/page/board-meeting-minutes-99.html
and read the board minutes for the October 20, 2015 meeting, section 4 [2 hour 40 min. executive session, followed by two public votes].

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead

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Grassroots Action: One HWFC member-owner individual, family, and employee at a time …we can reach every HWFC member-owner if we ALL work it
Build Capacity: If everybody does their little bit (or a bigger bit if they can), we build our capacity day-by-day
Have faith: It simply works!
YOU are the PR: Be factual, be calm, don’t attack anyone personally, and please do be impassioned about saving our member-owned, locally-owned & controlled co-operative!

This is co-operative, in action!
Laura

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