We’re part of a national trend: corporatizing co-ops

Submitted by an HWFC employee who requested anonymity:

Searching for Democracy at the Putney Co-op

Honest Weight is a client of the same agency discussed in the article, CDS consulting.  Our board is apparently scheduled for a retreat with them on 12/5.

Another CDS client, East End Food Co-op in Pittsburgh, ended their Member Labor Program last year in a process that sounds strikingly similar to ours.

Notes from a meeting at the end of East End’s MLP

Some specific observations from that document:

  • They seem to have run through the same course, or perhaps template,  as HWFC, using the same arguments.
  • Note that, at the bottom of page 1, “News media attention to the decision to end the program was evidence of the issue’s relevance.”
  • Page 2: see “Member Perspectives on Volunteer Program,” first paragraph. Chillingly similar to HWFC.
  • Page 4, second to last bullet: “I was outraged when I picked up the paper and read the news about the program ending.”

Here’s a list of CDS client co-ops.

Good to know.


14 thoughts on “We’re part of a national trend: corporatizing co-ops

  1. Park Slope survived. If we can’t turn back time and make Honest Weight honest, then we can start over, same membership, and create a Coop based on Park Slope and the original doctrine of truly Honest Weight. We have the numbers, we have the membership, we have the know how and most of all, we have the community!


    1. Colleen Putnam

      To the Park Slope comment and having HWFC change to all worker-member — I thought of the same thing, but what would happen to the 200 employees?

      To the Post — this is the kind of info that I hoped would become part of a working group task force specifically focused on the MLP.


  2. Ron

    As someone who teaches a class on the rhetoric of social problems it is worth remembering that :
    1. claims makers who make claims about a social problem–in this case coops violating labour laws–tend to utilise sources that validate their own points of view for obvious reasons.

    2. claims makers try to get media attention for their social problem because that increases exposure.

    3. claims makers often use “experts” to make their case but they rarely make use of “experts” who disagree with their perception of a social problem.

    4. claims makers try to get policy makers to take an interest in and push for policy changes to resolve or at least diminishes the problem.

    Claims makers, in other words, use rhetorical or discursive strategies to try to achieve their goals. These strategies are apologetic and polemical not objective or dispassionate.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ron

    FYI, Thane Joyall, who appeared with the Corps lawyers at the meet the lawyers confab has advised Corpops about a variety of things. Here is one thing she has helped coops across the United States do. It is called “Why Rehash the Old When You Can Start New? Try Fresh Start Bylaws”. How long before this little ditty comes to Honest Weight?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ron I whst do you think about a new, closed Park Slope Coop? Still keep the old Coop, elect a new, transparent Board, eliminate much of the top heavy leadership, and do community work for member hours. House the Park Slope Coop in the same building if feasible. Jules


  5. Ron

    Jules I am open to a return to a Park Slope like coop. I am not sure others are and I am sure the powers that be would fight it tooth and nail. Park Slope sadly is now a “virtual branch” store of the National Cooperative Grocers Association and that probably spells changes there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think this comment about being a “virtual branch store” may go to the heart of all of this. CDS and UNFI, the large corporation that distributes “natural” foods, have a very close relationship. UNFI has become infamous for hostile takeovers of small, regional distributors and have thus became the major nationwide distribution corporation. If you really take a look at the “Fresh Start” bylaws template, it’s clearly written for corporate, not cooperative, business entities. Combine that with the nationwide push to get all coops to adopt identical corporate bylaws, and you get the perfect takeover scenario with CDS coops across the U.S. being actual branch stores (or franchises) of UNFI.


  6. Ron

    There is evidence of a revolving door between the promoters of corporatisation in the coop world. CDS Store Planner Nicole Klimek used to work for UNFI as her Linkedin profile makes clear. National Cooperative Grocers Association Business Development Director used to work for UNFI. Once again the contemporary cooperative world mirrors the corporate capitalist world at large. So much for “coop” exceptionalism. See you later counterculture.


  7. Susan Longtin

    This is 11/29. At it’s best, I hope tomorrow will bring an international ground-breaking organization. A worker owned and run food store. Maybe a model for other kinds of enterprises, also! This is my hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Thanks from Mimi Yahn | hwfcinfohub

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