Thursday, November 19, 2015

Meet John Serio or How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Coops and Fall in Love with Corporate Oligarchy

I got a kick out of John Serio's letter on the hwfcinfohub the other day. Serio, you know, is the Board member who was appointed to the post despite not running in the same Board election of the person he was replacing and despite finishing fifth rather than fourth in the Board election following that of the Board member he replaced. Nicholson Cook finished in fourth and wanted to serve on the Board but most Board members for whatever reason, decided not to choose the individual who finished next to those who got elected as they did when they previously appointed the corporate bureaucrat Leif Hartmark to the Board. Ain't corporate democracy wonderful?

But back to the letter, I found the letter interesting for several reasons its corporate bureaucrat speak amongst them. Serious letter was chock full of words and phrases like "decision authority", "information gathering", "committees", "management", "methodically solicited", "market survey", "shareholder surgery", "input sessions", "core values", "culling the best ideas", "information sessions", "strategic planning", "mission threats", and "small group discussions". After reading it I felt like I had just been at a meeting of the state school board, IBM, the Albany government, or the Pentagon but not a Quaker meeting or a traditional coop. By the way, do words reveal the man?

I also found what was not in Serio's letter interesting. There is no mention that federal labour law supersedes state law so one wonders why the powers that be chose to write the New York state labour department, that different lawyers have an entirely different take on whether Honest Weight is in violation of labour law, that several organizations that advise, and I use that term advisedly, Honest Weight have long been pushing HW to eliminate the member programme advisory groups like CDS, the NCGA, and UNFI, that members of the LT have been pushing to get rid of member labour for years, that the powers that be control the means of communication and only deign to give approval for critics to speak. Power does have its perks, that the oligarchic diktat issued by the Board that end the membership programme without any member discussion and without a vote was anti-democratic just like the how he was appointed to the Board and that this really might be illegal despite the little trick the Board has up their sleeve whenever they want to do something that they don’t want members to vote on, fiduciary responsibility, that HW did quite well before the Leukakis regime turned HW into a cash cow for some lawyers office, and that it was the powers that be not the members who cost the store a million dollars in its plans for a new store, promised meat as the salvation of the store almost a year ago, a promise that has not materialized as of yet despite increasing amounts of meat in the store, and tied us to a loan which is, if the powers that be are to be believed, killing us. Mr. Serio presumably could also tell us how much the financially ailing HWFCorp is paying for lawyers and advisors but doesn’t. One wonders what fiduciary responsibility means in this regard to him and other members of the Board.

John Serio came. John Serio put his letter on the hwfcinfohub. John Serio vanished ignoring all the issues I and others raised. It was rather like living in Burlington, Ontario, receiving a brief visit and hearing a brief speech from one of the members of the royal family, and watching them leave never to return again. And that dear readers ends this lesson on corporate oligarchy at Honest Weight. I could go on, suffice it to say that the notion that there is “democracy:” at the HWFCorp as Mr. Serio's appointment to the Board, his letter, and the actions of virtually all of the Board and LT over the past several years shows is a rather bizarre one. As Mulder said, trust no one and I would add particularly if they are apologists and polemicists for the powers that be.

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