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Labor Update, Looking Ahead, & Madison Unicycle Equipment Co-op

Spring is almost here! The spring equinox will occur on March 20th this year, and I am sure I am not alone in welcoming the extra hours of light and transition into warmer months.

Labor Update
On Tuesday, February 10th, 2015 the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) held a secret ballot election for certain employees who work at our west location. The election took place from 8:30am–12:00pm and from 2:00pm–6:30pm in the Community Room at Willy West, 6825 University Avenue in Middleton.

The purpose of the election was to determine whether certain employees at our west location wanted to be represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1473 (UFCW). Voting closed at 6:30pm, at which time the votes were counted by the NLRB agent who oversaw the election and confirmed by the Co-op’s and UFCW’s observers. In all, 102 total ballots were cast: 50 against representation, 43 in favor of representation, 1 vote was voided as improperly marked and 8 ballots were challenged. The challenged ballots were sealed and delivered to the NLRB.

Late in the month of February, I was notified that the UFCW withdrew the petition to represent workers at Willy West and the NLRB approved the withdrawal of the petition.
With regard to certain unfair labor practice charges, the Co-op has provided a response, including supporting documents, to the NLRB addressing each of those charges. As soon as we learn more from the NLRB, we will share that information with you.

Looking ahead to March
Keep an eye out for a significant reset of Willy East, coming your way this spring. It’s been just over six months since the East remodel was completed. In that time we’ve heard feedback from shoppers that there are improvements to be made to the flow of the store, the placement of products, and shopability of certain sections. We will be addressing a lot of these issues in the reset, and hope that you will find them helpful and enjoyable!

I suspect in part due to the difficulties mentioned above, sales are not meeting our budget expectations for FY15. To protect the financial health of the Co-op, management has elected to defer a number of capital improvements and other projects to future dates. You will also notice some other new initiatives aimed at improving your experience in the store and better meeting your product selection wants and needs. Have other suggestions for ways we can improve? Please fill out a customer comment! The purpose of the Willy Street Co-op, as laid out in ourbylaws, is to serve the needs of our Owners. Sales are one metric we use to measure how well we’re meeting your needs. We’d love to hear your suggestions of ways we can better do just that.

The Board and management has also begun the FY16 budget planning process. The Board will approve the final budget in June.
Planning has also begun for a remodel or reset for Willy West! Right now the project team is looking for your feedback. Some of our burning questions are:

  • If you had a wish for Willy West, what would it be?

  • What do you love about Willy West?

  • What two things would you change about Willy West?

There will be a whiteboard posted in the store for you to write your answer to the question, or you can respond to the questions on our Facebook page in the same time period the questions are posted at the West retail. We’d greatly appreciate your input!

Madison Unicycle Equipment Co-op
The Board of Madison Unicyclists is exploring a different model for handling the equipment aspects of their organization in order to better support the school programs and more widely offer a full range of unicycling equipment to the people of Madison. A unicycle equipment co-op in Madison could be established to act as a dealer, distributor, and clearinghouse of new, used, rental, and lender unicycles to support the growth of unicycle school programs and all ages of novice and experienced riders in Madison.

They’re reaching out to people in the Madison community who would be possibly interested in joining the volunteer start up team in making the new unicycle co-op a reality. They’re looking for people who might be interested in volunteering leadership for this endeavor, partnering with our friendly unicycle community.

The acquisition and management of equipment will be the “bottleneck” to growth of the unicycling school programs, and it would be good to keep costs low and profits within the community. Unicycling is a super activity for all kids, not just kids of privilege, and adults can learn as their winter biking alternative,perfect core workout, or next fun athletic challenge. This is a locally based, not-for-profit, healthy effort to add fun and opportunity to our community.
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