June Council Meeting Report

from Marilyn Chase, Council President

June was the first meeting of the new Council year and we had many tasks to complete, including certifying the results of the spring member vote, electing new officers, and reassigning at-large members to Council committees. 

 We approved amendments to Council Procedure to clarify licensure requirements of council members and guarantee a state of readiness for any license needed. The draft 2019 Annual Audit was approved, and the final audit is now being prepared.

 In addition, Council members discussed two important issues.

 GreenStar Council Supports Black Lives Matter  

We stand in solidarity with those protesting racial injustice, and we condemn the generations of police brutality, discrimination, and systemic racism experienced by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.  

We must also put action to those words. We acknowledge that we have work to do as individuals, and as a Board of Directors. Council will develop an action plan that will:

  • Seek feedback from BIPOC in our community; listen, and learn how we can do better.
  • Recruit diverse voices from underrepresented communities for Council and Committee seats.
  • Create partnerships with local leaders who are already doing social justice and racial equity work.

 We know that cooperatives can effect change. We are committed to making change within ourselves, and on our Council, to ensure our food co-op is a welcoming and safe space for everyone.

 Response to member-owners who attended the May Council Meeting

Approximately 33 GreenStar member-owners attended the May Council meeting to express their concern about recent (involuntary) layoffs of GreenStar employees. Many of these members indicated they had signed a petition asking Council to reverse the layoff of a particular employee. Although numerous misstatements of fact were made (such as, that the Co-op had been found to have violated fair labor standards, or “was forced to concede”), Council members did not immediately respond to those concerns, as Council is unable to discuss individual personnel matters publicly.  

It is important for Council to maintain as much transparency and responsiveness to member-owners as is practical. The Co-op’s General Manager has explained that the significantly lower-than-budgeted sales since the coronavirus pandemic resulted in the need to drastically reduce operating costs, and the subsequent layoffs. 

Council made the following (non-confidential) observations and/or determinations:

The appropriate channel for an employee to challenge a decision by management is to file an official grievance as described in the Co-op’s Official Personnel Policy (OPP – available on GreenStar’s website). In a grievance, both the dissatisfied employee and management have the opportunity to lay out their cases in a structured, confidential setting. An employee’s grievance must be based on one of the following types of claims:  

  • An alleged violation of existing policy
  • Alleged inconsistent application of existing policy to different employees in similar situations
  • An alleged unfair situation for which no policy exists
  • An alleged unfair situation caused by an inherently unfair or discriminatory policy 

 When a proper grievance is brought, an ad hoc 3-person grievance committee is convened, consisting of a GreenStar employee selected by the grievant, a GreenStar employee selected by the General Manager, and a Council member chosen by the other two. If the grievant is not satisfied with the decision of the Grievance Committee, the issue can be submitted to binding arbitration (by a professional, neutral arbitrator or panel).

 No employee who was subject to a non-voluntary layoff has chosen to make use of the grievance procedure. Yet, the allegations of one side have been spread via social media.

 In the absence of an actual grievance, current policy does not allow Council to intervene in a dispute between management and an employee. However, Council is responsible for monitoring the General Manager’s compliance with its Limitation (B) Policies established by Council (such as  Policy B.6: Staff Treatment), and could make a determination as to compliance.  

 The General Manager has provided Council with a detailed (confidential) report of the circumstances surrounding the layoff that is the subject of the member petition. This report indicates that pertinent aspects of the situation long preceded the layoff, and that the General Manager’s action does not appear to be inconsistent with the “layoff policy” set forth in the OPP, which allows the General Manager to “temporarily or permanently lay off employees if GreenStar is experiencing serious economic difficulties” taking into account certain, specified criteria.   

 Therefore, based on the information available to it and in the absence of an employee-initiated grievance (where all relevant points from both sides could be presented and considered), Council determined that the General Manager has not violated the limitations now set forth in Policy B.6, with regard to layoffs instituted to date, in the context of the Co-op’s current, serious economic difficulties. Council, with the assistance of its Personnel Committee, will review current policy regarding layoffs and consider changes, if advisable – within the next three months.

 The General Manager Monthly report is summarized here

Next Council Meeting:

Tuesday, July 14 from 6:30-9:30 pm
Meeting will be held online — please email boardadmin@greenstar.coop for instructions on how to attend.
Member-Owners are always welcome!

The meeting agenda is posted online here 7 days before the meeting: https://greenstar.coop/council-downloads/