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What Has the Board Been Up To Lately?

Happy New Year! I hope you were able to have some relaxing and enjoyable time with friends and family over the past month and that your year ahead will be full of exciting and happy days.

The Willy Street Co-op Board of Directors has been busy over the last few months with our work in monitoring results, evaluating performance, and governing policy adherence. We’ve also held regular Board meetings, committee meetings, special meetings to learn more about the Co-op staff’s unionization efforts, and our annual Board retreat. What we’ve learned during this busy time is that we are each driven by our passion for and belief in the Co-op and its mission, and are dedicated to the Co-op’s success.

With the guidance of our Cooperative Board Leadership Development consultant, the Board participated in an Annual Retreat this past November. The purpose of the retreat was to build our cooperative governance skills; learn how to more effectively use our time and oversight to contribute to the Co-op’s success; and explore our Ends policies in relation to the Co-op’s growing and changing needs.

The Co-op exists not only to serve Owners, but to make a positive impact in our world. In order to cause that desired impact, we need to ensure the success of the Co-op. This is where the Board’s work gets its greatest purpose. As a Policy Governance board, our work isn’t always tangible—meaning we’re not doing executable project-based work—but the Board is the only part of the organization with that high-level view in sight. As the team that sets policy that guides the organization and holds it accountable for its actions, any positive impacts that can occur are first dependent on the quality of the policies we set and how we govern their adherence.

We left our retreat with a deeper understanding of our unique position in ensuring the success of the Co-op and a renewed passion for our shared mission—along with a long to-do list for our continuous improvement as a high-functioning Board!

We are continually striving to better fulfill our mission to be a cornerstone of a vibrant community. In 2015, we are putting priority on sustainability, inclusion, engagement, leadership, innovation, growth and financial performance. Here are some new and ongoing goals the Board will be monitoring to help make a positive impact toward our mission:

  • Participation in National Cooperative Grocers Association’s pilot program to track sustainability efforts

  • Successful completion of operational strategic plan

  • Implementation and execution of Intersectionality Committee to address issues of inclusion, equality and accessibility at a governance level

  • Participation in local and national efforts to strengthen and grow the cooperative model and cooperative values.

  • Maintaining financial health of the Co-op to ensure continued ability to support our community and other cooperatives/small businesses.

Last month’s Board Report explained our Board Committees and how Owners can get involved. As a reminder, if you are interested in applying to serve on a Board Committee, contact Dan Marten at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 608-251-0884 ext. 738.

Your Board of Directors affirms Co-op management’s position that staff has a right to decide whether or not they want union representation. On October 21st, 2014, the Board of Directors required Anya, the Co-op’s General Manager, to instill an environment of neutrality within the workplace and we are confident that she has done so. On November 11th, 2014, the Board entrusted the General Manager to develop and implement the process through which to arrive at a staff decision on unionization, in collaboration with the Board and the Union. We believe in the cooperative principles and stand with both management and staff as they continue to work together to build a fair and equitable work environment for all. The Co-op has long been a supporter of unions; a fair vote was pursued and every effort was made to honor the neutrality agreement. On December 15, 2014, the UFCW withdrew from the election agreement, effectively canceling the scheduled staff vote. We will continue to do our best to communicate to you and stay close to this as it moves through the National Labor Relations Board.
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