Anti-Union Activities at Food Co-ops

Valerie felt the need to start a union at The Creamery because neither the GM nor the board would hear her complaint about being paid substantially less than her male predecessors. She says the board kept reiterating that, as an operational matter, her pay was out of their hands, and solely at the discretion of the GM. But when she would raise the matter with the GM, he would deflect as well. “He did at one point take me and three other people aside and apologize to us for things going poorly,” she said, “and take responsibility for it, and when I said ‘let’s fix these things,’ he said, ‘you’re dwelling on the past.’”

CDS calls this division of responsibilities “policy governance” and brags about its efficiency: the board is supposed to look at the big picture, and the GM is supposed to take care of day-to-day operations.

Zach encountered the same run-around as Valerie, only the hypocrisy at Good Earth – where they did have a union – was a little more obvious. “When we tried to reach out to the board of directors,” he says, “they refused to meet with us. They said, ‘We don’t get involved in day-to-day operations, but we are the boss of the GM, so if you have any problems with her, please contact us.’ Well,” Zach reflects wryly, “we just contacted you.” He notes that “supposedly [the board] have nothing to do with wages or wage increases, but when the deli negotiated a new wage scale, and the GM signed off on it, all of a sudden, a few days later, she said she talked to the board and they said this couldn’t happen. But they’re not supposed to get involved in that.”

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