May Council Meeting Report

from Marilyn Chase, Council President

I am so happy we are finally settled in at our beautiful, welcoming, environmentally-friendly store at 770 Cascadilla Street. It is the realization of dreams. Cooperation by many played a significant role throughout the entire process: settling on a location, developing working relationships and contracts, drafting plans to refurbish the building and surroundings, completion of construction and the process of moving offices, employees, and operations into our new home. Our amazing staff accomplished this move while also facing the challenges of adapting the new store due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This required a review of the processes and the functions of every job to ensure the survival of the Cooperative. 

One of the adaptations made by Council in response to the pandemic was to suspend the distribution of printed materials, including the GreenLeaf newsletter, paper ballots in stores, and Council agendas. These changes will remain in effect for the foreseeable future. Council information and communications will continue to be produced and published on our website at greenstar.coop/council. If you have concerns, questions, or comments, please email them to council@greenstar.coop. We encourage members to provide feedback and we will follow-up to your questions.

At the May Council meeting, we accepted the first ever GreenStar Ends Report and completed some Council Policy monitoring. The majority of our meeting, however, was devoted to member comments. Thirty-three member-owners attended through our online meeting platform, and the majority chose to speak. Most comments expressed concern about the recent layoffs. We understand that the members who spoke feel strongly, and appreciate their willingness to share their opinion. GreenStar’s Official Personnel Policy describes our Grievance Procedure, and encourages any employees who feel that they have been treated unfairly to utilize this process to seek a resolution. 

Any members who are concerned about our Cooperative’s operations or fair treatment of employees, please consider the following:

  • GreenStar is autonomously managed and governed by community members like yourself. We engage in distribution and service contracts that are typical of a grocery business, but are not otherwise beholden to any outside entity. We have a transparent system of checks and balances that exceeds even a typical consumer cooperative. Our only motivation is to operate a thriving cooperative business.
  • GreenStar is the region’s only grocery store paying the Tompkins County Living Wage to its more than 200 employees. Since April 5, every hourly employee working in a customer-facing position at GreenStar has been receiving a bonus payout. This bonus payout is based on a ratio of hours worked, which reflects more than $2 per hour above the person’s hourly wage in recognition of their work during the pandemic.
  • GreenStar encourages employees to share their concerns, which are taken into account when implementing safety measures. At the start of the Pandemic, GreenStar implemented the safety measures outlined in the the OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19. GreenStar was the first area grocery business to fully implement these guidelines and continues to evaluate and adjust to changing conditions to best meet staff and shopper safety, and provide a relaxed and enjoyable shopping experience at the  new store. GreenStar communicates with the Tompkins County Health Department regarding our safety measures, and remains committed to the safety of staff and customers.
  • Democracy is a fundamental value of our Cooperative. If GreenStar’s employees wish to be represented by a union, they must hold a secret ballot election.
  • No employee of GreenStar has experienced retaliation as a result of being involved in organizing activity. Allegations of unfair labor practices made in 2019 were either dismissed or settled with the National Labor Relations Board in November 2019.
  • GreenStar is not immune to the economic impact of COVID-19. In the United States, almost 40 million workers have been laid off during the pandemic, and many local businesses have gone under in a short period of time. GreenStar is also experiencing a significant drop in revenue, which if not improved in the near future, threatens the viability of our Co-op. As a result, about 40 staff members chose to take a voluntary layoff, and a difficult decision was made to lay off an additional three staff members. GreenStar has not hired new employees to replace those who have been laid off. GreenStar has continued to fill positions for cleaners, cashiers, and lot attendants. These positions are not comparable to the positions that had to be eliminated.
  • GreenStar has a clearly outlined Grievance Procedure to assess any disputes over decisions made affecting staff, including claims of unfair retaliation. Critical details on some matters cannot be disclosed to the public to protect confidentiality. Council accepts the responsibility of its position with the utmost sincerity, evaluates concerns based on the facts at hand.

Council appreciates all of the hard work that our staff have put into making 770 Cascadilla a wonderful place for us to shop, and we are grateful for the patronage of our members and shoppers.

 

Full copy of GreenStar’s Grievance Procedure:

Grievance Procedure

Next Council Meeting:

Tuesday, June 9 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/

View the April Council News