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Patronage Refunds and Ends Policies

Patronage REFUND
All of us Owners sure are great. Through all of our purchases of local, sustainable, and organic products we made Willy Street Co-op profitable two years ahead of schedule after opening Willy West. You will receive notice via mail later this month if you are receiving a patronage refund. The refund helps the Co-op reward you for your shopping. It also allows us to build equity to do more great things. Please see the article by Director of Finance, David Waisman, on page 13 of this newsletter for all the details.

In addition to voting to approve Owner patronage, your Board of Directors works with our General Manager, Anya Firszt to strive for greatness. We use a process called policy governance to do this. In brief, we set lofty goals—called Ends—for the Co-op to achieve. It is up to Anya and all the staff to make the lofty goals into reality.

As an example, we can take a look at one of our Ends.

Policy A4
Workers participate in management, work in a humane environment and are recognized and rewarded as being fundamental to a thriving community.

  • A4.1 Become an employer of choice in Dane County.

How can we as Owners be sure the Co-op is meeting this End? You elect the Board of Directors to monitor the Ends. The management team prepares quarterly and annual reports on how they are achieving the Ends. The Board reviews these written reports. Written reports are complemented with presentations from key staff.

Lofty goals can be hard to measure. Your Board of Directors encourages staff to achieve these big picture ideals. This can include inspiring dialogue to always raise the bar higher. We also network with other grocery cooperatives to learn new tricks and techniques. We ask good questions, ensure compliance, and represent you.

How did we do last year? Pretty darn well!

Here are some highlights:

  • 2012 Designated “Best Place to Work” by Madison Magazine (also highest scoring workplace for sustainability).
  • 74% of Willy Street Co-op employees are engaged, as determined by a survey of 78% of staff. As a comparison, Gallup Poll results show most employers with engagement levels of less than 30%. Our staff engagement is more remarkable when you consider our staff population increased from 150 to 281 employees between 2010–2012 with the opening of Willy West. Gallup’s trend on employee engagement index shows businesses with engaged employees are more productive, enthusiastic, safe, profitable, and have better customer service.
  • We retain our employees at a very high rate nearly 78%.

How do we do this?  

  • All positions meet or exceed the Dane County and Cooperative Grocer Information Network Living Wage after three months of satisfactory employment.
  • The Employee Council is a place where all Willy Street Co-op employees can, through representatives, set policy that impacts all employees. Representatives are elected annually by each department.
  • Health and dental insurance or Health Reimbursement Account (HRA).
  • Paid vacation.
  • Sick/discretionary days.
  • Employees who work holidays are paid time and a half.
  • Staff purchase discounts.
  • Profit sharing.
  • A Transportation Plan allows employees to set aside tax-free money to pay for transportation costs such as bus passes, parking, and qualified vanpools.
  • A 401(k) plan is offered as a benefit to all employees who are at least 21 years old and have worked at the Co-op for 12 months.
  • Flexibility in scheduling.
  • Staff membersmay sign up for classes offered through the Community Room at no charge.
  • All staff are eligible to participate in the Co-op’s Cafeteria Plan. This plan allows employees to set aside tax-free money to pay for many kinds of out-of-pocket medical and child care expenses.

Associated Housewrights Home Savings Bank

Daniel J. Krause

Jolly Bobs

Dr.Ingo Mahn