Co-op Democracy on YouTube! With local lyricists and the help of political satirist Dave Lippman, the campaign for democracy and human rights at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op has made it on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBKNoifsufI= Check out it out and pass it on.
Two members are now running for the Co-op Board on a Member-Voices-make-Better-Choices Co-op board campaign – to learn more, visit their website: www.CoopMembersMatter.org. This campaign is separate and apart from the ongoing effort to get the Human Rights and Restore Co-op Democracy initiatives on the upcoming ballot.
Protecting Members’ Right to put Initiatives on the ballot
The sponsors of the Human Rights and Restore Co-op Democracy initiatives have been thwarted by the Board in their attempts to follow the Co-op’s Bylaws. The Bylaws have two requirements to put member initiatives on the ballot: signatures and proposing the action at a Board or Membership meeting. Although both initiatives have met these requirements, the Board has refused to put either on the ballot. (See Co-op Digest for more information.)The sponsors have generated hundreds of letters to the Board, filed grievances and offered to mediate and arbitrate. Instead, the Board used an estimate of $3000-$4000 (or more) of Co-op money to mail a letter to all voting members to attack the initiative sponsors with misinformation and false allegations. By sending this letter with Co-op funds, the Board has again violated the Bylaws, which prohibit Co-op money from being spent on campaigning.
Seriously concerned that the Board’s action will permanently deprive members of their Bylaws-given right to put measures before a vote of their fellow members, the sponsors have asked the local court to order the Board to follow its Bylaws and put these initiatives on the ballot. See July 1 2011 News Release.
The Board has basically admitted that the Human Rights Initiative is consistent with the Co-op’s Bylaws by adding to the upcoming ballot a Bylaws amendment that would prohibit such an initiative in the future if it passed.
Please contact the Co-op Board and tell them to stop interfering with Members’ rights to put member initiatives on the ballot. Tell them to put the Human Rights and the Restore Co-op Democracy initiatives on the upcoming ballot and to treat these campaigns evenhandedly as they are required to do in the Bylaws.
Why this Co-op Democracy Effort
What started over a year ago, as an effort by several members of the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op to follow the Co-op’s long standing Boycott Policy, has become a Save Co-op Democracy effort. Last fall, the Board suspended, and then eliminated the Boycott Policy. This year the Board has refused to allow members to put two initiatives on the ballot in violation of the Co-op’s Bylaws.
What has become painfully obvious is the Board’s complete unwillingness to follow policy or the Bylaws when it disagreed with the issue at hand. It seems that our Co-op’s Board has succumbed to “…a numbing inability to suffer differing viewpoints,” one of the many reasons given for the demise of the Berkeley Co-op, this one by its former controller, George Yasukochi.
Failure to listen to members is not unique to the current Co-op board. Opposition to the now-failed second store was widespread. However, the Board’s majority and the store management ignored these concerns and instead took the Co-op into debt to erect a lavish store in Elk Grove. The store closed in January 2007 after only being open 18 months. Members, workers and shoppers have paid the price ever since.
More and more members have now gotten involved, first with the attempted boycott investigation request, then with the member initiatives, and now with trying to save the Co-op’s democracy. With more member voices, there is a healthy diversity of ideas and approaches towards a common goal of having a healthy Co-op controlled by its members.