Saturday, November 7, 2015
Welcome to the Machine: Musings on the Corporate Culture of Honest Weight Food Corporation
Erin Walsh resigned as Board member and secretary of the Board at Honest Weight this Tuesday in order to take a revolving door job at a local non-profit. The new Board secretary is John Serio. Serio was appointed to the Board earlier this year despite not running in the same Board election as the Board member he replaced and despite finishing second in line, fifth, not first, fourth, in this wrong Board election cycle. How he can justify being on the Board as a result of all of this is beyond me but he can. When I talked to him he claimed that some members of the Board told him that the fourth place finisher was no longer interested in being on the Board. This, however, is patently untrue. How some members of the Board can justify such anti-democratic actions is also beyond me but apparently they can. Welcome to topsy turvy world of corporate culture.
The Coop Scoop which was taken over fully by the Corporations leadership team a few years ago has become a shill for the corporate mentality that dominates the Corporation's management team, the middle level bureaucrats they hired many from non cooperative job backgrounds like Price Chopper, and members of the Board like Bill Frye, Roman Kuchera, Deb Dennis, and Leif Hartmark. I happened to pick up the Coop Scoop while I was at the Corporation yesterday and found articles on the "metrics" of growth, "metrics" has become the word of the moment among the leadership team as it has been for years among the corporate class and in corporate culture for years, and strategic planning, another one of those things that makes corporate mentality types go ga ga. Where corporate culture leads many at Honest Weight will follow not realising that cooperatives were created as alternatives to such corporate speak and corporate actions.
Another retread of a term that keeps popping up in Honest Weight management corporate speak is "growth". Growth, of course, was something that coops originally wanted to get away from. They wanted to get away from the notion that bigger is always better, that ever increasing urbanisation, suburbanisation, environmental degradation, the treatment of workers as mechanical cogs in the money making machine whose productivity was to be increased at all costs, treating companies solely as money making machines to increase the profits of corporate elites, and treating consumers as metrics to which to sell product even if it increased obesity was a universal good. Welcome to the fetishesed corporate mental world where the new boss has become much same as the old.
Still another is the term "shareholder", a term that is replacing "member worker" which itself replaced "member volunteer" in Honest Weight management speak. One wonders whether the term "member worker" plays right into the hands of any at the Department of Labour that think that so-called cooperative membership worker programmes violate labour laws and should be paid retroactively for work they have done in "coops".
Rumors, not surprisingly given the context, abound at the Corporation these days. One rumour has it that some members of the Board, undoubtedly after consulting lawyers paid for by the Corporations leadership team, have suddenly discovered that they don't have to have an election to decrease the highest level of member worker discounts from 24% to 20%. That the membership voted down such a decrease at a membership meeting a few months ago seems immaterial to the Board members who, rumour has it, want to do this. This will be difficult since the rules--one must get two-tirds of the vote to recall one of the powers that be--is rigged in favour of the powers that be. So much for the notion that the Corporation is "progressive" and democratic. It is more like that paragon of "radicalism" the US Senate. Snark. Another rumour has it that those planning to possibly recall members of the Board and decide on whether or not to renew the jobs of the Leadership Team want to rid the Corporation of all paid employees. This scenario is unlikely since only a tiny fraction of critics want to get rid of members. Another rumour raises questions about the character of some of the critics of the Board and LT. It is not necessarily the character of the critics that matters, however, it is whether they have a point and are right. Rumour has it that Honest Weight is now carrying Cargill Meat products.
Now for a few things that aren't rumours. The meat continues to grow like a blob taking over more and more of the store displacing things that were once in the space they have taken over. Things made in China now carried in the store from bamboo underwear to little knick knacks near the front desk continue to grow exponentially. How this assuages bourgeois guilt is beyond me. Members concerned about the recent decisions made by the Board at Honest Weight are having a difficult time getting contact information for members from the powers that be at the Corporation so they can express their concerns about what is happening at Honest Weight to the members of the Corporation. The dictatorship of the coporatariat or concerns about privacy or both?
"They're not that innocent..."