This just in 4-19-08 9:11pm> Steve, just called and said that the
feds think the union has merit. Union stopped by O'Rielys and
celibrated with members. Now what to do about mgr. who I am
told will say, "I have the loans, I own the MKT...
Clintonville Community Market (CCM) / Clintonville Coop(CVC)
Almost exactly two years ago a brave group of young people
handed out a zine describing the difficulties they were having
with the CCM’s Management. Things did not improve and so
another brave group of workers are acting in their own intrest and
have turned to Unionizing to get satisfactory results. We (CCM
members) gave Edward/Mgmt. The oppertunity to retain their
positions and straighten out the matter in a Coop way, that hasn’t
happened. Below is the position of the “board” and farther down
is the position of “most” of the workers.
Subject: Letter to Calumet Natural Foods Co-op Members
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2008 12:57:32 -0400
This message is being sent to all active members who shared their
email address when joining the co-op. The list will be used only to
notify members about official matters directly related to the co-op.
The contents of this email will be mailed to all members in the near
future but email allows us to notify you in a more timely manner.
Dear Members of the Calumet Natural Foods Cooperative,
It is the responsibility of the Board of Trustees to keep our
informed of all issues and concerns that affect the economic
of our small local market.
In mid-March, Edward Bain, co-op manager, received a letter from
Local 1059 indicating employee interest in joining the union. While
the members of the Board of Trustees are not opposed to union
organization, we have a fiduciary responsibility to co-op members
ensure, as best we can, the future financial stability of the market.
To that end, the Board has retained Spencer Youell, Esq., a labor
relations attorney, to represent the market, assist us in the
negotiation process and, help educate the board, and employees
regard to union organization, and its potential fiscal impact on the
In addition, over the past several months, the Board has been
discussing retaining a mediator / ombudsman to work with the
co-op staff on various issues and in late January, initiated a
process for a trained mediator. On Tuesday, March 25th, the Board
voted unanimously to retain Stephen Grenier, a certified
mediator, to begin a mediation process with management /
staff in early April. The Board made this decision due to ongoing -
and some long standing - concerns raised by members, staff, and
trustees and with the belief that this would be the most
and co-op friendly way to address various human resource
We will keep you updated on the outcomes of the above
upcoming editions of the Communicator. Please feel free to
if you have questions or concerns. Meanwhile, have a wonderful
Seeds are in for spring planting and soon garden plants will arrive
add to your shopping experience. If you haven't been to the
lately, please stop by to see the improvements made over the
We are growing and prospering. Thank you for your continued
the Calumet Natural Foods Cooperative.
Richard Brown <email@example.com>
Dear CCM / CVC Community,
This essay/letter is a related to the Clintonville Community Market
(CCM) board's response to the staff's initiative of forming a
bargaining unit of the United Food and Commercial Workers
Local 1059. I am a member of CCM.
The staff of the CCM are forming a union bargaining unit because
of their need to have protection from the on going arbitrary
manner that their concerns and issues have been dealt with by
the management, as well as by some members of the board.
In March of 2006, there was a large CCM membership meeting
with over 300 attending members. One of the central issues was
the working conditions and the relationship between staff and
management. It was agreed that there would be a good faith effort
in working through these concerns. This has not happened.
These staff members describe their working conditions as nearly
the same as they were two years ago.
On the evening of March 22nd the CCM board decided on a
package of decisions and declarations and to describe their
response to the staff's union initiative as “neutral. In one of those
decisions the board decided to allocate expenditures up to
$5,000.00 for the services of a labor relations attorney to serve the
interests of management. Another attorney was hired to advise
the CCM board at an unspecified additional cost. The board
declared that it would set up a meeting just for the staff with the
management-labor relations attorney and the UFCW 1059
representative. The board declared plans to name an ombudsman
(advocate) to the board from the staff. Finally, the board decided
to write a letter to the CCM membership informing them of the
board's intent to remain “neutral”relative to the staff's decision to
form a union bargaining unit.
This claim by the CCM board of “neutrality” is not backed by the
reality of their decisions. Apart from the political spin the board's
actions can be reasonably be described as an agenda in support
of union busting. Providing the general manager with a lawyer
and with $5,000 in order to prevent a union from forming is not
“neutral.” Having another attorney advise the board without
specifics on what that advice entails does not lend itself to
transparency . There is no legal mandate for a staff meeting
involving the management's labor relations lawyer and a union
representative. Such an arranged meeting can be interpreted as
an unwanted attempt to wear down those who do want a union by
stress and delay. In past years, the idea of an ombudsman has
been strenuously resisted by management and by some board
members. Two years ago a group of members loyal to the
management circulated a petition to impeach the two board
members who were advocating for the resolution of the staff
grievances at that time. In the event that a union is formed, staff
members will appoint from among themselves a shop steward
whose responsibilities will include being a liaison to the board.
The board's recent actions are another example of its inability to
act as a cooperative business using sound financial and
governance policies. The board has resisted providing funds for
an independent financial audit. They have claimed that an audit
would be “too expensive,” yet they have managed to rationalize
equivalent funds for a lawyer whose job it is to prevent the staff
bargaining unit from being established. It is an accepted business
practice for a business of this size to have a annual audit. By
refusing to provide the funds for an independent audit while in the
same time period providing funds to support management
policies of union busting the CCM board has both abandoned its
fiduciary responsibilities to its membership and it has gone
against the expressed interests of the membership in resolving
the long standing staff grievances about its treatment by
There has been a long history of dysfunction regarding the
relationship between the management and employees. The board
has generally ignored these issues, stating that its domain is
policy while allowing management to create its own policies. Too
often the board has made policy based on the politics of
personality and personal loyalty rather than upon criteria of
accountability and performance. The board's claim of “neutrality”
is a cloak for its unwillingness to deal with staff and management
issues in good faith, in the context of conventional good business
practices or according to co-operative principles and methods.
The critical point may come when members are confronted with
their own ambivalence toward the actual practices of economic
democracy, the well recognized conventions of good business
practices, and their lukewarm investment in their own
“progressive” political principles.
PS: At this moment the decision resulting from the National Labor
Relations Board hearing of last week has not been issued and
may not be made for a couple of weeks. The staff members there
need the support of the general community.
I (PG Bruce) would sudjest as an action step we
1. Send this link or your own comments to Richard Brown
firstname.lastname@example.org, the board president putting the first
public “spin” on this issue.
2. Send any additional comments (or copy me) to me PG
Bruce at email@example.com for publication on the CCM-
CVC-41808-talk page (Comments-Page) Please say if you want
your letter posted or not. Please sign with name, pseudo name or
anonymous. List e-mail or phone # by name if you want direct
3. Join the Coop workers for song and solidarity, Saturday at
the Market Late Morning with Music at 3:30pm, they will be
handing out Tadeet’s letter and discussing the Coop situation. If
rain, Stay Turned for new time.
4. Attend the Board Mtg at the Community Resource Center 14
W. Lakeview, 7pm, unless it is moved real quick as I am told they
do from time to time. Watch this page for updates.