Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Welcome To The Machine

This Line Alone Speaks Volumes:

"... and that it would be fiscally irresponsible for Council to leave such decisions to the Membership."

Without providing any context what would be your initial thoughts/comments?

So where did that line come from?

And what's the context?

This is from our local CoOp. There have been a string of bad decisions over the last few years primarily from an ineffective and corrupt council. I won't go into this here just to say that it's been breathtaking watching this thing unfold and watching the imperious and stubborn assholes in council continue despite all warnings and ignoring all of the core members of the CoOp.

So now the CoOp has had a few bad months, in fact several it's just now catching up, and the Council has been mulling over options as to how to make up the deficit.

Essentially the proposals being considered are punitive to workers and/or members with the management team and Council getting off the hook DESPITE the fact that they are the ones who have made the "fiscally irresponsible" decisions WITHOUT the consent, in fact much dissent, of the members. What a joint. Welcome to the most "progressive" institution in the "most enlightened" city in America:

Here's the entire piece in the monthly Greenstar newsletter:

Proposed Changes to Discounts and Retirement Benefits

Tackling another challenging topic, Council received three formal proposals from its Finance Committee for addressing the Co-op’s current financial problems (see Council News in November GreenLeaf). The Committee has proposed that the Co-op switch from its long-standing practice of granting a 2% discount on purchases by members, at the register, to a patronage rebate system like that used by many other food co-ops. Under the proposed system, Council would decide, at the end of each fiscal year and based on total net income (after expenses), how much of a rebate members would receive on their past purchases.

A second proposal is that the Co-op discontinue its two-year-old policy of making “guaranteed” employer contributions to employees’ 401(k) retirement accounts, based on a percentage of sales, and instead make contributions based on a percentage of net profit.

The third proposal is that Council exempt CAP (Co-op Advantage Program) sale items from all member discounts (regular member, working member, staff and senior). CAP sale items are the primary special deals offered by GreenStar, as stipulated pursuant to a contractual arrangement with the Co-op’s main supplier. When member discounts are applied to these reduced-margin sales, the impact on the Co-op’s margin (and “bottom line”) is multiplied.

Finance Committee chair Art Godin said that steps such as these should be taken quickly, to avoid or reduce the projected operating deficit in the currently-proposed 2008 budget. As Council was not intending to act on these proposals in November, Art asked Council to defer action on the 2008 budget as well (which it did). While some on Council expressed support for the proposals, others asserted that those affecting member discounts must or should be subject to Membership approval, and that supporting employees’ retirement is a basic component of being a responsible employer. In response, some said that the Co-op’s current course is unsustainable, and that it would be fiscally irresponsible for Council to leave such decisions to the Membership. Also, a couple of alternatives to the committee’s proposals were suggested: reducing the member discount (say, to 1%) rather than making it dependent on an annual Council decision, and limiting CAP sales to members (thus applying this particular “benefit-reduction” mechanism to non-members only. Council will resume consideration of these issues in December.


Anonymous said...

Your Food Co-Op looks like a Yuppie Valhalla, not a true food co-op.

"How to Entertain Organically"??

(from its web-page)

What the fuck is that? Who the fuck cares about "entertaining"? What the fuck is American "entertaining" anyway, aside from reality TV, lame fiction, bad acting, and tone-deaf singing?

EcoStar looks like a "salve the yuppie conscience" type of place.

A lot like the former food co-op in my town, which now is an upscale Yuppie Market with upscale prices and weekly "events" where people learn to "entertain" with new foods that they never knew about in their Wonder Bread + Velveeta + Ranch Dressing existences.

Integrity is in such short supply. Why have a food co-op where the only focus is on food, delivered cheaply without the fancy materialist/consumerist packages?

It's pretty fucking disgusting when the only successful food co-ops are run by a quasi-religion, the Seventh Day Adventists.

Anonymous said...

Oops, I called it "EcoStar" and not "GreenStar"... and I said "Organically" instead of "Naturally" when I quoted the web page.

But your story shows that people are stuck in capitalist/materialist mode even when they try to run a food cooperative. Their base of knowledge and experience is polluted by a "reality" restricted to capitalist business and system models.

I'm surprised that Ithaca, NY has yuppies and maybe I shouldn't be, Cornell is there and so is Ithaca College, and lots of uni professors think themselves a sort of American Royalty.