Council Approves Living Wage Amount and 
2014-15 Council Calendar/Workplan

By 12th Moon, 

Council President

11-5-12thMoon-72dpiCouncil held our monthly meeting on Tuesday, April 8 in The Classrooms @ GreenStar with ten of our thirteen members, five staff members, two member-owners, and a very sweet and cute three-month-old present. Our number on Council has been reduced to thirteen after Colin Meeks, one of two staff members on Council, resigned for personal reasons. Many thanks for your contributions while on Council, Colin; we will miss your input.

During our announcements period we learned that Ithaca is a very busy place. On Thursday, April 10, as an example, Council held a Member Forum in the West-End store meeting room, while GreenStar Community Projects held their eighth networking dinner/meeting — this one focused on local food business entrepreneurs, and Building Bridges hosted a presentation by two organizers from Virginia Tech who explained the college's Civic Agriculture and Food Systems minor program. Our Spring Membership Meeting was also set to be held on Friday, April 25.

General Manager (GM) Brandon Kane brought the first item of business, the monthly GM Report. Brandon reported that staff was all moved into the new Central Kitchen and Bakery, working out the kinks and stretching out into a beautiful new space, and would soon be finalizing catering offerings and The Space @ GreenStar rental specifics. He also told us to expect to see a member-owner survey offered on our website and at both stores during May. Participants can win one of three $150 gift certificates. He also said that a reusable bag program called Bring Your Own Bag, Use It For Good would begin at both stores in April. This program promotes the use of reusable shopping bags, boxes, or other containers. Those who reuse a bag at the register are offered a wooden token worth a five-cent donation to one of three local non-profits. Brandon expressed much appreciation to all staff for both the group effort to move into the new kitchen and their continued involvement in the Open Book Management weekly meetings and trainings.

The next item on our agenda was regarding our Living Wage adjustment for this year compared to that of Alternatives Federal Credit Union, the standard for Tompkins County. GreenStar's Living Wage computation is arrived at using AFCU's model, but we use GreenStar employees' lower insurance costs (because GreenStar contributes more toward employees' premiums than is reflected in the AFCU model). Council agreed to support the budgeted Living Wage base pay rate of $11.80 an hour, calculated using the above method.

We next had a discussion regarding a proposed model to compensate staff for participation in the Co-op's Open Book Management program (OBM). The OBM model has been successfully used by other co-ops to bring staff together across departments to evaluate the store's financial status and activities of the week prior. Staff then look to find improvements to achieve better efficiency.

Council approved a proposal that came next to retroactively grant a leave of absence of three months to our Vice President Tara Gross for the birth and care of her bouncing baby daughter. Said young lady was the three-month-old mentioned earlier, in attendance for the whole meeting without ever causing any disturbance other than with her cuteness, which couldn't be ignored.

The minutes of our March meeting were approved next, after a few small amendments, and we then took our mid-meeting break.

Proposed Council Self-Assessment Findings came next on our agenda. Traditionally, we monitor our own performance by having a survey conducted, using an external person to compile the confidential data collected from staff and Council responses. We then take the data and look for areas in which Council could improve its processes, procedures, and meetings. Council approved the findings with some amendments and charged the Executive Planning Committee with writing an Action Plan or next steps to make improvements and better our governance. Once approved, the Findings and Action Plan will be posted at the stores and on our website,

A proposed Council Calendar/Workplan for the upcoming Council calendar year of June 2014 to May 2015 was the next item. Our calendar year starts in June, after the elections, when new Council Members are seated, and runs through to the following May. The Calendar was approved with few amendments.

Next, we monitored our own performance or compliance to Policy C.3 Council Calendar/Workplan, which outlines the responsibilities of Council to produce and adhere to an annual calendar. We found that we had just completed compliance.

We then entered into two Executive Sessions. The first proposal, to approve the termination of a membership in the Co-op because of criminal behavior, was approved. The second item was a proposal to receive the results of the recent General Manager Assessment survey from our Cooperative Board Leadership Development consultant and refer the results to an ad hoc committee of five Council Members charged with evaluating the results.

After leaving Executive Session, we thanked each other for another productive meeting, which ended forty minutes early. Job well done all — thank you!



Next Council Meeting

Tuesday, August 11,
6:30 - 9:30 pm

The Classrooms @ GreenStar
(Former Enterprise Building)
702 W. Buffalo St., Ithaca

Members always welcome!

Possible Agenda Items:


  • Proposed Interpretations of Oct. 2014 Meat Referendum
  • Select Tellers for Oct. Bylaws Amendment Vote
  • Council Monitoring of Policy C.7, "Council Committees"
  • GM's B.14, "Legal Matters and Contracts" Monitoring Report
  • GM's B.9, "GM Succession" Monitoring Report

NOTE: Agenda is tentative and subject to change. To confirm items, see actual agenda posted here and at the stores six days before the meeting.

  • By Alexis Alexander,
Membership Manager

    ballot-boxIn October, member-owners have the opportunity to vote on six bylaws changes being proposed by Council. GreenStar's bylaws, the rules that govern the internal management of the Co-op, were originally established when GreenStar was incorporated. According to our bylaws, one of the essential rights of member-owners is the ability to vote on the creation and changes to the bylaws and mission statement.

    Unfortunately, GreenStar, like many co-ops, suffers from very poor voter turnout relative to the number of member-owners. For instance, only 5 percent of member-owners voted in th...