GRASSROOTS ACTION and New, Approved Budgets ARE WAY-POWERFUL!

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Posted by Laura Hagen, HWFC Member-Owner.

GRASSROOTS ACTION IS POWERFUL! is a blog dedicated to American independently-owned, Member-Owned & operated, community food co-ops, their Member-Owners and families.

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WE HAVE A BUDGET! WE MEMBER-OWNERS ACCEPTED A 4% REDUCTION! (YAHOO? <smile>)

The results from last night’s Honest Weight Food Co-op Quarterly Membership Meeting and Budget vote are as follows (I’m echoing official vote tallies from this morning’s Inside Scoop)

Vote Results 

Budget Passed, Discount Passed

224 Members checked in, along with 2 Shareholders, and 3 Provisional Voters

Vote to adopt the 2016-2017 Budget:
196 Yes, 23 No

Vote to approve member discount reduction ending June 30, 2017:
184 Yes, 36 No

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Congratulations to our Board, Treasurer, Finance Committee, and acting GM and his staff, for putting together a plan which we all agreed to live with. The presentation last night (and in all the Budgetary Presentations leading up to last night) was superb! Jim Guzewich got a solid round of applause. One Member stated, it was the best financial presentation we can remember in many, many years. Clear, concise, factual and well laid out. Thank you!

And thank you to our Membership Committee for – once again – doing a superb job of organizing the meeting! We appreciate your hard work!

Not only are there -0- planned employee lay-offs in this budget, the staff is getting a 3% raise (based upon brand new staff assessment tools, which go into effect on July 1). The 3% is intentionally graded: the staff on the lowest salary tiers (where the majority of our staffing is) will receive the largest of the salary increases (again, based upon new employee performance criteria); those who make more per hour will see a lower increase (based upon the new employee performance criteria).

The budget includes for likely increases to the cost of staff health and dental plans; thus protecting two important benefits to our employees at HWFC.

There is a freeze on new employee hires, which is a necessary belt-tightening measure.

This budget did an excellent job of protecting our current employees at HWFC, given the economy, and given that many local employers within this industry are either not giving COLAS and/or raises, they are giving less than 3%, or they are downsizing.

We should be proud that we voted for a plan which managed to do these things for our employees!

Member-Owner employees and Member-Owners who work weekly took the brunt of the cuts in the budget: a 4% cut, with our 24% discount going down to 20%. However, it will pop back up to 24% in the 2nd Q (from October 1- December 31) to account for increased holiday shopping. It will drop back down to 20% from January 1 – June 30, 2017.

If we all do our parts – and that is a tall order! – we can see that 24% go back to permanent status on July 1 , 2017. Keep that as a goal and watch each quarterly budget report like a hawk! Hey Owners, we gotta “watch the till” and keep us moving in a positive growth direction!

Quite a change to the Member Meeting last June, don’t you think!

One of the most important parts of the evening, for me, was when Chris Colarusso and Rita Nolan stood up and reminded us about our situation one year ago. It was last year – at the June Membership Meeting and Annual Budget Vote, that Chris and Rita stood up and warned us not to vote for a decrease in our Member-Owner discount, as that (former) Board was requesting of us.

It took them a great deal of determination and grit to be allowed to get on that agenda (and they were only allowed, I think, ten minutes); and they took a barrage of criticism at the meeting from a select few. (You may remember the shouting …and those microphones “mysteriously” dropping-out …at inopportune moments for (only) the Member-Owner speakers). (Did they think we were born yesterday? And, hey, I’m a musician, I know from microphones!)

Never-the-less, that was the wake-up call for some of us; that moment, last June, when two lone individuals stood up, together, bucked the crowd, went against the prevailing wind of the reigning Board & Management ..and shouted a warning cry across the hull of our co-op.

Except they did not shout. They spoke simply, eloquently and passionately.

That took a great deal of courage. Chris and Rita, thank you.

Chris reminded us that it was only four months later – in October, 2015 – that we petitioned for an Emergency Special Membership Meeting and she said, “We wouldn’t be here today if we hadn’t done that.

She got a solid round of applause for that. We know.

I remind everyone reading today, that is was Chris Colarusso who brought that petition for an emergency meeting to challenge the machinations of an out-of-control Board & Management, to the Member-Owners on the morning of Saturday, October 23, 2015.

Chris then went on to assure us that the budget we were being presented with this time, this year, was factual, accurate, complete, verified …and trustworthy (unlike last year’s, as we now know).

She and Rita recommended – one year later – that we all vote for a cut to our Member-Owner discount and that we support the budget.

We listened to them. We believed their words last June, and voted no to a reduction to our discount …and we believed their words this June. We voted yes to a 4% cut and we supported the new budget.

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Every once in a while, in life, you are witness to a moment, moments – fleeting and ephemeral – which are remarkable in their power to positively affect and change human life …to positively and greatly change a community for the better.

And, sometimes, just sometimes, you are aware of those moments.

Such a moment happened last night, when Chris and Rita stood up, when I reflected back to them standing in that same spot last year…

…and I realized: these two people – whom we are all blessed to know! – quietly took a stand and moved an entire food co-op.

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3 thoughts on “GRASSROOTS ACTION and New, Approved Budgets ARE WAY-POWERFUL!

  1. Susan Longtin

    Laura, you are a good, very good writer.
    Many thanks to everybody and thanks to Jim G. He does a great job! Thanks to Janet. She’s a very smart person.

    Like

  2. sandy mackay

    . . . and more than the approval of discount reduction and budget was the underlying message. That vote was a VOTE OF CONFIDENCE in the new Board and the direction they are going. The trust that had faded away a year ago as a result of the unstated but evident campaign against the MLP has been re-established. Of course, we must all pay attention and remain actively involved in order to maintain that trust relationship, but it is now there to be maintained. Hallalujahj!!

    Sandy MacKay

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura

      Sandy,

      Yes, you are absolutely right, the votes represent support of and trust our new Board. And, more so than ever, we need to invest more and more Member-Owners in being a part of the process …joining Committees & Committee work, attending Board, Committee & GRC meetings, assuming tasks which will support the strength & growth of our community-owned co-operative …encouraging friends and neighbors to shop at HWFC…

      Of course, monthly and/or weekly working in the co-op is super important, too.

      And communication is vital, as is the grassroots networking to keep us and our families all connected up!

      Thanks for stopping by, Sandy!
      Laura

      Like

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