WSM employees petition to stop move

Breaking news via the Carrboro Citizen: tonight employees of Weaver Street Market are presenting a petition to the WSM Board of Directors against the proposed relocation to Hillsborough!

Just got a fax saying that a group of Weaver Street Market employees will call for a moratorium against the coop's proposal to move its food prep operations to Hillsborough.

According to the fax, more than 100 employees have signed a petition calling for the moratorium. It will be presented to the coop's board of directors at a meeting tonight at Carrboro Elementary School at 6:30 p.m.
- The Carrboro Citizen: WSM employees call for moratorium, 6/19/07

Kirk's got the text of the workers' faxed announcement here. (Fax?)

Issues: 

Total votes: 304

Comments

It seems worth repeating the issues the workers are raising:

-having their jobs moved to another town
-increased production demands
-mechanization of the workplace
-decline in food quality
-extended work hours
-lack of transportation
-compensation
-whether the decision to centralize production upholds the mission statement of WSM.

According to today's Herald, the WSM board planned to discuss the workers' concerns at last night's meeting. Perhaps James Morgan, as OP's WSM BOD participant, could let us know of progress and plans.

It was a very interesting meeting to attend — a lot of thoughtful and, at times, intense discussion. Thanks to the board and the employees for opening it up to the press.
We'll have a story on it as well as an excerpt from the actual petition in the Citizen Thursday.

If WSM food production facilities move to Hillsborough then some people that currently live and work in Carrboro will have to start driving to work in Hillsborough. Okay, I can see how that is a bad thing. But I can't help but wonder why nobody talks about the fact that there are already plenty of people that work in Carrboro or Chapel Hill but live in Hillsborough because Carrboro and Chapel Hill won't let housing be built for them. If it is bad that people live in CH/C and work in Hillsborough then isn't it equally bad that people live in Hillsborough and work in CH/C? And of course Hillsborough is just an example. You can add Pittsboro and Durham and Morrisville and Cary and on and on to the list of places where CH/C workers live because they can't live in CH/C.

Doesn't gasoline burned on the way from Hillsborough to CH/C cost and pollute just as much as gasoline burned on the way from CH/C to Hillsborough? Don't trees cuts down to build housing in Durham or Cary equally affect the environment as trees that would be cut down in CH/C to build housing? Granted, as a resident of CH myself I like the fact that the trees are cut down elsewhere instead of here but I think it's at least important to recognize that the reason I like it is because it benefits me personally, not because it benefits some larger cause. I'm not trying to derail here but just trying to raise awareness.

I agree, Jose,

I try to carpool or ride the TTA from my home in Cary to Carrboro, but the scheduling does not always work. I would gladly trade this for a commute of 13 miles.

Before I speak to Jose's point I want to say that the board should never even allowed the Southern Village store to open because it goes against their mission statement: "Cooperative - control and profits stay within the community." Now with the Food Factory in Hillborough it takes it even further away from the mission. When I buy my food in Carrboro that money does not stay in Carrboro. Period. It is the board that failed WSM and it is the people who voted for the board who have corrupted the WSM mission.

So Jose, the problem people have with Weaver Street Market moving the store is that it is not in keeping with their mission statement. See below. It seems to me that several parts of their mission are being ignored just with the fact that they will be producing Carrboro's food in Hillsborough. WSM is enabling increased fossil fuel burning and that goes against "Ecological - works in harmony with the environment"

(Christian now steps on his soapbox)

The fact that I will not be able to see the workers who cook my food goes against "Interactive - creates opportunity for community interaction"

The fact that several people said at the meeting said "We need to make more kinds of bread" goes against "Primary - provides for basic community needs"

And there ae more subtle objection as well but I do not have the time here.

If anyone was at that meeting you could hear what effect the Souther Village store had on WSM. One manager actually said; "People vote with their wallet." and another said "We need more product." $ $ $ $ So, I have come up with several new names for Weaver Street Market: Wall $treet Market, Wal-Mart Market, Greedy Street Market. (I maintain no copyright)

Face it WSM, you are not a co-op.

I really do not care what happens to WSM. I still do 98% of my shopping there but I cashed in my shares when they decided to open up Southern Village. They can go the Harris Teeter route if they want to. I am just tired of the hypocracy.

--------------
WSM Mission Statement

Weaver Street Market's mission is a vibrant, sustainable commercial center for the community of owners and potential owners, which is
Cooperative - control and profits stay within the community

Local - maximizes local resources to meet local needs

Ecological - works in harmony with the environment

Primary - provides for basic community needs

Fair - mutually beneficial and non-exploitative

Inclusive - accessible to the whole community

Interactive - creates opportunity for community interaction

Empowering - enables fulfilling work and customer experiences

Educational - develops an informed community

And is reliant on community support - to purchase goods and services, invest in the cooperative, and participate in governance.

Christian-

How is it hypocrisy to have operations in Hillsborough? I think Jose just illustrated that Hillsborough is part of the overall community that Carrboro and Chapel Hill are in, and is becoming more so every time someone moves there because they can't afford to live close to their job in the bigger towns.

As someone who grew up out in the county, the way you're talking is *exactly* why there was the whole rural vs town bruhaha about county commissioners. Someone who lives in Carrboro or Chapel Hill or Hillsborough or out in the county are not more morally deserving of anything than any other Orange County resident. If WSM was run according to your lines then Southern Village and Hillsborough would kept out of WSM's zone of influence despite the whole "Inclusive - accessible to the whole community" statement.

So let's not confuse real problems with the move -- like transportation issues -- with local brands of jingoism and elitism.

And I'm sure that if it's really going to help the bottom line, and if there's really that many employees who'll have to go to Hillsborough, then why not just have WSM organize a carpool or even charter a van to carry folks to and from the current WSM and the new one?

Chris, I would think with a blog called "An American Nationalist" you would be more likely to understand what I am talking about.

Hillsborough is a larger part of the Carrboro community as North Carolina is a larger part of the community as the United States is a larger part of the community China is a larger part of the community, etc. ad nauseum. You are drawing your "community" where it fits you self-centered interests. As I do. We are no different. That is the human condition.

WSM has a mission statement and they are not abiding by that mission statement. THAT is the issue. If they changed their mission statement I would have NO PROBLEM.

They say they are "Local - maximizes local resources to meet local needs" and that they are "Inclusive - accessible to the whole community".

How close is "local"? What is considered our "community"? What is Well, I choose not to own a car so to me Hillsborough is not local. The last time I was in Hillsbourough was three years ago.

So, when I buy my food at WSM does it stay in Carrboro? Not likely much of it anymore. What happens if Hillsborough fails as a store? Will that pull the Carrboro store under? Are they maximizing local resources or are they maximizing profit? These are all imprtant questions which no one in the management or on the board has answered. I am not saying I have the answer, but no one is attempting to answer them.

If Hillsborough wants to open their own store with their own kitchen I have no problem with that. Or if WSM wants to open a store in Hillsborough with it's own kitchen I have less of a problem with that. And I have no problem with WSM helping that to happen. That would be much more environmental and "local". I also do not care if they open the Food Factory. I just think they should not be hypocrytes. I
Anyway, the locality issue is only one part of my problem with WSM's expansion.

If you support this move, and you also believe "I try very hard to point out that more not fewer sweat shops would drive up the wages of those workers."* the future workers at the Wall $treet Market Food Factory should be scared.

*http://nationalistamerican.blogspot.com/2007/03/why-sweat-shops-are-good...

I cannot help if you "country" folk are too lazy to open up your own co-op. Just don't ruin ours with poor logic.

Regards,
Christian

Christian,

I complained when James Morgan, a WSM board member, responded to some concerns at Orangepolitics.org with quotes like, “quit whining already," and “gimme a break.”

And I'm complaining now when *you* respond to Chris with name calling and words like "lazy" and "poor logic."

I agree with most of your points, but I think the only way WSM changes course on this decision is if they get shamed into doing it. Attacks like the ones you just posted aren't going to help in that regard.

ken

Yeah, I suppose you're right and us country folk are too lazy. Good to know.

Back to the issue at hand, though, I really don't see why a consumer would care where his food was prepared as long as it was as good and as cheap.

Other ideas about the new commute is WSM could just give cards with credit at gas stations to the leaders of carpools if a van would be too expensive. Sure, not perfect, but it'd at least be meeting people halfway.

If someone is says something and does another then they are a hypocrite. If someone is does not act and complains then they are lazy, if they use uses logic poorly, then they use poor logic.

Just because something insults someone does not mean it is not true. And I am not goint to stifle what I see as truth for fear of insulting someone.

But you already know what I mean:
"I was surprised to see the Independent grant the Pope Center an entire page in its Jan.17 issue. Has the Independent run out of journalists that actually investigate issues and objectively report on them?
Then I thought to myself: "Why bother with all the fuss of independent journalism when you can simply reprint press releases?" Silly me."

http://www.indyweek.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A43153

Christian,

Okay, you got me :)

Although, in my defense, I do try to employ different strategies for different battles.

In this case, I think the high road is the way to go.

Many of the foods purchased at WSM in Carrboro come from farms located in rural Orange, Chatham, and Alamance counties. Whether or not the food house moves to Hillsborough, the farms producing our veggies for farmers' markets, WSM, or CSAs are staying where they are. These places, for the most part, are further from Carrboro than Hillsborough.

I certainly consider the farmers who grow that food that to be local members of my community who contribute to the quality of life I enjoy in Carrboro.

Chris,

You state:

"I really don't see why a consumer would care where his food was prepared as long as it was as good and as cheap."

I'm a consumer and I care. I also care about how workers are treated.

(Maybe you were being sarcastic and I didn't pick up on it.)

Just to bring things back to focus. The discussion seems to be drifting away from the *workers'* complaints. Turning this issue into a "Carrboro vs. the rest of the county" discussion serves to muddy the waters.

Here are *the workers'* concerns:

-having their jobs moved to another town
-increased production demands
-mechanization of the workplace
-decline in food quality
-extended work hours
-lack of transportation
-compensation
-whether the decision to centralize production upholds the mission statement of WSM.

Happy June 21st everyone, midsummer's day to those of us from the Old World, first day of summer to many here, and the date which marks Weaver Street Market's 19th anniversary in this community. Cause for celebration all round!

Dan, I'm happy to comment here from time to time but have to abdicate the title of “OP's WSM BOD participant” right away. Other directors have commented here, recently Seth Elliot, and I'm sure others will join the discussion from time to time as they see fit. Furthermore I hope it's clear that I have no authority to speak for the board: our policy and minutes do that, and in unusual circumstances the chair may add to that voice a statement on board position which has not yet found its way into the record. Anything you read here over my name is my personal opinion unless I refer to a matter of factual information which is already in the published record of the cooperative.

With regard to the petition there is little for me to say at this time. The board has repeatedly endorsed the Food House plan by willing consensus of all directors from its first emergence as a concept in 2001 (board record). I do not know of a mechanism by which the process can responsibly be halted by the board at this late stage and I personally would be extremely concerned at the potential for severe financial loss to the coop and damage to employee livelihoods if we were to try to do so (personal opinion). I am grateful to the employees who formulated the petition for sharing their concerns with the board. The information it contains will give us the opportunity to more effectively monitor the implementation of this project to ensure that negative impacts on the lives of individual employees will be mitigated to the greatest extent possible, as has always been our practice. Any change to the status quo has the potential for such negative impacts and Weaver Street Market has an excellent track record in addressing these issues honestly, ethically and with responsibility to our whole community of owners and potential owners (again, personal opinion, backed up by extensive conversations with managers and directors of other food coops across the country facing similar issues). As an example, transportation issues had already been identified as an employee welfare concern by management. Carpool and van transit arrangements similar to those suggested here, to be paid for by WSM, have already been planned and affected employees were given details of these proposals earlier this month.

Jose's comment is obviously a good one. We have had owners (both customers and employees) in Hillsborough for years and this is an opportunity to serve them more responsibly, just as I am very happy that our many long-term customers and owners from Pittsboro and points south are now being served by our sister coop of Chatham Marketplace (WSM owners living in their vicinity, please do everything you can to help them through the first few financially-challenging years. They need and deserve our support for their hard work in getting that new coop going). Patrick's comment is also extremely apposite concerning the relationship with our local primary food producers. Ensuring a stable and consistent market for local farm goods has been a major factor in the development of our long-term plans - with benefit to the farmers certainly, many of whom are also Weaver Street Market owners and customers, and of course with overwhelming benefit to all our local food needs.

Christian, I'm sad that you have chosen to become a free rider because your personal definition of community differs from the one we have consistently followed for many years now. This is of course your right - the coop commitment to free and open membership means the freedom to leave as well as the freedom to join, and unlike a few old-school food coops we do not exclude non-owner customers. But no-one will hold it against you if you choose to come back to the fold and support us once more through your financial investment and participation in governance. Thank you for repeating our Ends Statement: I reread it myself regularly as it informs every decision that the board makes.

Hope to see you all on the lawn later on. “Full Moon Pie - pop twang with bluegrass sensibilities”. Who knew?

Uh, hey, James, whatever, it's all yours. I am sad you have chosen to be a capitalist. You are free to leave them or not. I hope you choose to support us in the future.

"Disbelief in magic can force a poor soul into believing in government and business." -Tom Robbins

"unlike a few old-school food coops we do not exclude non-owner customers"

you just call them "free-riders". nice--you'll take their money and deride them as they head for the door.

all this focus on the definitions of 'community' and 'local' is obscuring the issue that Carrboro is a unique place as far as walk and bike-ability. many of us who live close to downtown pay more to live close and pay more to shop locally because of the desire to drive less or not at all. the kind of move WSM is planning to make threatens that kind of sustainable lifestyle.

Orange County zoning of farmland outside of town rests on the idea of having a dense cores of residents and business and outer buffers of farmland. there may be problems with that vision when peak oil comes, but I'm not clear how it relates to the WSM move. are the farmers part of the community? well, since I see them at the market twice a week, I guess they are--as are businesses. If I never saw them, I would say "not". but still, how does it pertain to the WSM move?

I believe an organization can become too big. The definition of too big is where the limit of effective communication exists. Some say that magic number is 150. I'm not sure how this applies to WSM exactly but these growing pains are a sure sign that the grassroots vision of a CoOp in Carrboro has been out grown.

I'm not saying that WSM isn't valuable. FAR from it! Just that its different than it was when it started. If people no longer believe in the organizational form WSM has become then create a new CoOp. Sadly its is very hard to do.

As James said we should support the creation of new CoOps. Its what good community orgs do. I hope we will soon have more socially responsible places to shop in the future and that it will be as a sister to WSM.

Christian, Daniel, I apologize for the free rider comment. It was a cheap shot and of course any customer of Weaver Street Market, owner or not, is supporting its activities with their business, and that is much appreciated and certainly not to be denigrated. And yet of course I am always hopeful for more of its non-owner customers to join in the benefits and responsibilities of community ownership: in this I respectfully have to disagree with Brian's comment on size.

Let me elaborate. There has been criticism by some participants on this and previous threads about Weaver Street Market's growth. The cooperative currently has over 10,000 active members, many of whom live well beyond the boundaries of Carrboro and even Chapel Hill: our community of ownership already includes many households in Hillsborough and Durham, as well as rural Chatham, Alamance and Orange counties - in fact it always has. This number, which has been steadily increasing year by year, shows every sign of continuing to grow. All of this growth, apart from a couple of ownership drives in particular areas to ensure the viability of a new facility, has come from people walking into the store, liking what they saw, and deciding to become part of it. What's a coop to do? As it happens, I believe that this growth in membership is a good thing - the greater our cooperative ownership the stronger we become collectively as a positive force in the community. But even if I disliked it there is little I individually or the coop collectively could do about it. If people wish to join, we are simply not at liberty to turn them down. To quote in full the first of the seven Principles of Cooperative Identity adopted and restated over many years by the International Cooperative Alliance: “Co-operatives are voluntary organisations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.” Let me repeat that central phrase: “open to all persons able to use their services “. Restrictions on membership by numbers or geography are simply not an option for any cooperative which has agreed to abide by these principles as ours has done since the beginning.

So comments on the ideal size or “magic number” for communication in a consumer/worker coop like ours, insightful though they may be, kind of miss the point. We have to figure out a way of communicating within our coop community that works for whatever size we are. We also have to figure out a form of democratic control which works for whatever size we are. A score of people in a basement whole-foods buying club can make their decisions by a show of hands: this is how many food coops began. A community of 10,000 households, constantly growing, has to use other tools. We must do our best as a community to use the tools available to us (I speak as much as an owner as a board member here) and constantly strive to improve.

So I repeat my apology for the comment I made earlier which was not in the best interests of good communication. Apologies should always be made without reserve or condition; this I do and all I ask is a response in kind.

Brian, it's true, yes, Weaver Street Market IS different than when it started: without hesitation I would answer that in every respect it is now better, stronger, and able to have a greater impact for good in its community. Example: as a larger coop we absolutely perform better in the arena of social responsibility than we could when we were small. For several years now we have been able to pay even our entry-level employees significantly more than our local competitors in the grocery business and offer them much better working conditions along with greatly increased opportunities for career growth and professional development. This has not always been the case. It has only become possible because we have had nineteen straight years of growth and have been able to go twelve straight years without losing money, which makes us somewhat an object of envy for other less fortunate food coops across the country. It is only in the last half-dozen years that we have been able to routinely pay our worker-owners their annual ownership dividend to match the consumer-owner dividend received as a store discount, again, only possible because of our growth in volume and profitability. Our goals are to continue to improve in the realm of employment conditions - we already do much better than the standard in the food-servive business, but as anyone will tell you, that's a pretty low bar - and yes, I am very confident that even the Food House project, far from being at the expense of our social goals will be to the substantial long-term benefit of our employees as well as our customers and the community at large. As a board member I was very appreciative of the employees directly affected by the Food House development sharing with us their concerns, fears and apprehensions. It's my firm belief that both board and management will be doing their utmost to ensure that those concerns will be sensitively, responsively and effectively addressed. Weaver Street Market has not lost its way: the vision is as strong as ever and the torch is carried by more members of our community every year. Long may it continue to be so.

As far as the walkability of Carrboro goes, I think it's worth pointing out that Carrboro is walkable only if you already live there. Everyone else is forced to drive.

And as far as the definition of "local" goes, I realize that is subjective but I think an argument could be made that people should be considered local to the general area where they work. I mean, if you have an ordinary job then you must go there every weekday, spend eight hours there, and then go home. That is a big commitment to the area, which may be a voluntary or involuntary commitment, but it is a commitment nonetheless.

As far as the size of WSM or anything else goes, I think the focus should be on the end result. I mean, things aren't inherently good or bad because they're small, or becuase they're large either. Things are good or bad because of.....whether they end up doing good or bad!!

There has been one thing that I noticed when reading a lot of these posts and listening to some of the arguments.

Those on the opposing side are labeling the expansion to Hillsborough as a Weaver Street Market move. As in, THE MARKET is moving to Hillsborough. My understanding is that this is not true. Only the PRODUCTION jobs and even then only SOME of the production jobs will be going to Hillsborough to the new Food House.

I have a real problem when people attempt to sensationalize what is really going on. Carrborians (or whatever you call yourselves) will still have their precious store, with their precious lawn and all of the other commodities that residents in Chapel Hill and Hillsborough do not have.

I as a Hillsborough resident want a WSM store in my neighborhood. Why? Because I don't want to drive to Southern Village to buy my products and I don't want to deal with the Carrboro elitists.
I see the benefit of WSM adding the Food House in my town because it will help employ people who want better wages and a change in their profession. Personally, I think it will be a more stable workforce since the majority of Hillsborough aren't students at UNC.

I'm sick of this whole mob mentality with the "You're either with me or against me" attitude from the opposing side.
What happened to compromise? WSM seems to be doing everything they can to come to a compromise.

I also believe that if it wasn't for WSM's outlook of the future and business plan, the same people who are whining about their jobs being moved wouldn't have a WSM job to begin with.

Hillsborough welcomes the Food House and the upcoming WSM store.

"Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer." -Adam Smith

Christian, if Hillsborough isn't local to you, please stop purchasing Maple View Farms' milk & ice cream. Consider that the produce sold at the CFM isn't grown "locally," if you consider the definition of local to be "in Carrboro." It stinks of hypocrisy.

Those of us who live in Hillsborough spend a LOT of money in CH/C because we *don't* have a good grocery store. We don't have many restaurants, and we have no movie theater at all. Some of us work there; my husband did until high Franklin St rents forced his office to relocate to Durham/RTP.

Increased production demand is due to people coming in and liking the product. You can't bar people from buying in a store, unless you want them to go the COSTCO way. Is that what you want, Dan & Christian? Members only privileges, and members can only come from a certain area? Yeah, that's going to remain fiscally viable. Having increased space at lower cost to meet the increased demand -- which already exists, according to all reports -- allows the hiring of more employees and increased wages (perhaps), for distribution of the workload over more people.

I do think it would behoove the residents of CH & C to remember that there is more to Orange County than just them.

Just to clarify, in the above comment, where it says "Dan," I mean "Daniel."

Oh Diane,

First, I do not drink milk or eat ice cream so Maple View Farms products do not interest me. In fact, I am nearly vegan. Please do not make assumptions about my lifestyle.

Second, I do not have a probelm with the farms. My problem is with Weaver Street Market saying that THEY are a local company and they keep our money in the community. The farms do

If you want a WSM-like grocery store in Hillsbouough why don't you start one? Which goes back to the lazy comment I made the other day.

And you do not even understand what a co-op is and how they work. They can bar people from buying in a store if you are not a member and many do.

WSM will continue to be fiscially viable. But thatis all it will be.

Christian, how about you start your own co-op, where only people who think like you about how one should be run can join up? Otherwise, quit being lazy.

Seriously, discussion with you is futile, so I won't bother.

Leann, those "Carrboro elitists" are the ones making it possible for you to buy products at any of the WSM stores. You are no better (or worse) than any of us for living in Hillsborough.

Ok, C. Diane, for the purposes of this thread, I'll concede your point: folks from Carrboro are elitist and selfish.

Now, what about the *workers'* concerns? Do they have merit?

Ken --
As I've said *repeatedly* in the other thread from May, yes, the workers' concerns are valid. However, as James states, changing course now would be disastrous, and we don't have a time machine to go back to 2001 when the conversation would have been more productive.

I hope compromises can be worked out, like a van pool or some sort of ride sharing arrangement to minimize the financial impact on people who don't have cars, and a less drastic change in shift start time (seriously, 2 extra hours? Is that really necessary? I'm not a large-scale baker, so I can't say what time frame would be realistic, and I also don't know how much needs to be done when they get there and how much prep is done the previous afternoon.) An increase in wage could mitigate some of that.

From what I've been reading, it sounds like the existing bakery is crowded and overextended. More space -- and more efficient space -- would mitigate that, and the drastic difference in rent would allow for hiring additional employees (pt/ft).

Unfortunately, there are people who comment/post here advocating for a strict black-and-white, all-or-nothing, no compromises approach, and that is utterly and horribly counterproductive for all involved.

It's the all-or-nothing attitude that strikes some of us as elitist and selfish.

That and the "local=Carrboro" but buys "local" food from Efland while railing about how Hillsborough (closer!) is so horribly far away and a horrible place to move production to because it's not local. Sounds like hypocrisy to me.

To Ruby -- What about the other point Leann raised vis a vis sensationalization of the issue? And it's hard to deny that Daniel and Christian are coming across as anything but elitists in these comment threads.

C. Diane said: "changing course now would be disastrous,"

As I said before, that is he oldest trick in the Business 101 handbook. Make the change, then say it is too late to change when everybody complains but say that you will listen next time.

C. Diane also said: " and we don't have a time machine to go back to 2001 when the conversation would have been more productive."

That is the other part or the complaint by the workers, that WSM management does listen, but that is all they do. (That is from Business 102: "Then Forbes said: 'Let them vent.'") WSM is listen to one sound: cha-ching!

Why is it suddenly elitist to have an idea or an opinion? Your an elitist elite C. Diane! :)

Let me ask you another question C. Diane, have you ever worked at WSM?

It's elitist to call people outside your town "lazy." It's elitist to exclude people who live outside your ZIP code from your community. It's elitist to act like your town is the Only One That Matters. It's elitist to look down your nose at people.

Are you entirely unwilling to consider compromise? Are you going to ignore my other points?

No, I haven't worked there. I was a student, then a student living in Hillsborough, then a resident in Oregon (where the co-op was meh and charged a LOT more for food and didn't offer a discount except on "member appreciation day" every other month, and then only on certain items), and now I live in Hillsborough & work in downtown Durham. I have worked in a variety of retail and customer-interface jobs, however, including a gas station in midstate NY.

NB: the "OMG, next we'll be considering California community, then CHINA!!!111!!eleven!!" argument is a strawman, and I won't waste time on it.

Between Christian, C, James, and well, almost everyone, I find the entire discussion kind of silly. I think the workers have some legitimate concerns, but I don't think many of the arguments here are terribly convincing either way.

Thanks, Ruby-ji, for your ever-mindful moderator's input. You really know how to make your contributors feel valued and appreciated.

All this talk about local vs non-local doesn't make sense. It's akin to trying to make a dichotomy out of a continuim. Where is the line between local and non-local? Is it two miles from Carrboro Town Hall? 5? 20? Is the Carrboro town limits the line? Any line you come up with is absurd because one side of it is local and the other side, one millimeter away, is non-local.

It's just a crutch. Instead of taking time to think, we pretend that local is automatically good and non-local is automatically bad and all we need to do is hash out exactly how local is defined. How about instead just looking at what effect moving WSM facilities to Hillsborough will have and then deciding whether or not it's a good thing?

Ruby- No, it is not the production people that provide my product. It is my money to them that make them produce such product so they can support themselves. I don't HAVE to shop at WSM. I CHOOSE to shop at WSM because I believe in their business model. I make the demand, they give me the supply. It's basic economics.

Has anyone actually confirmed that 100 employees from WSM signed this petition? With the Southern Village folk supporting the expansion to Hillsborough, I find it hard that 100 signatures all came from employees. Unless those few employees went out and told people the wrong thing and got signatures from people on the street.

The opposing side keeps asking WSM where they got their figures and facts for the expansion. I want the opposing side to confirm all 100 signatures (according to the Citizen) came from WSM employees or if they came from any Tom, Dick and Harry from the street.

C.Diane- I agree that it is futile to argue with someone like Christian. He probably has a personal grudge against WSM because he wasn't hired or fired or they didn't get his order right.

Leann, my point was that there wouldn't be a big enough market for the products we want without all those Carrborators.

Leann - I collected those signatures, along with a few other co-workers of mine. I assure you that they all did come from employees, including folks at Southern Village. Just because the management of SV supports whatever Weaver St. is doing right now doesn't mean the workers do.
I find your insinuation that we misrepresented the numbers or were dishonest about the source of our signatures offensive. Believe it or not, a lot of people who currently work for Weaver St. don't think that what's going on is right, for various reasons.
I would ask you to refrain from making such groundless accusations in the future.

I think that mudslinging is getting everyone off the central point. Is the expansion living up to the mission of WSM? I am not opposed to a store in Hillsborough and think Hillsborough is a great community. The question of whether Hillsborough part of WSM's original intended community doesn't matter IF WSM management, owner's, and employees decide Hillsborough is part of the same comminity and as long as benefits aren't diminished in Carrboro in order to expand.

The sentiment is not elitism. It is not Hlisborough VS. Carrboro. If Carrboro loses food quality, jobs kept within the town, and maybe even something less tangible, in the expansion, then the expansion shouldn't happen. If WSM can find a way to avoid these losses AND the owners, workers, and management (all three) agree then by all means we should provide more local organic services to the surrounding areas.

The problem is that this is not the case. Food quality does go down when food is mechanized, made in large batches, and shipped in. That is not arguable. Quality of life for the workers of Carrboro is going to change for the worse. That is not arguable. So, though I am not opposed to a hillsborough market, I do not feel we have met the criteria for expansion within the WSM mission, YET, and should go back to the drawing board so as not to dilute the benefits of the co-op.

Aside from that, the biggest problem is that there is no transparancy, not demcratic system in place, and no REAL checks and balances for the community to rely upon to make sure this "Co-op" is going in the direction of the people who make is what it is. It's like the electoral college and we have nominated Bush even though Gore won the popular vote.

You do not eat food, you eat ideas. You do not wear clothes, you put on labels and names. I hope you all realize how much fun I am having!

At the risk of sounding insensitive, how many people whose job is being relocated honestly don't have a car or coworker friend with a car? I find it hard to believe there are more than a couple people even in Carrboro that rely 100 percent on buses and biking.

As to the other demands listed at the top of this thread by Alderman Coleman, wouldn't increased production likely be a lot easier with the very mechanization they don't want? I don't know the details obviously of how their jobs would substantively change, though.

How exactly will a Hillsborough-centered facility lower the quality of food?

Also, if mechanization is a real fear (again, I'm curious as to why), then why is there a fear of extended work hours? And correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't they be... well... *paid*? And overtime? Or does WSM not work their employees 40 hours a week like everyone else's job?

Anyone who can answer those questions for me, I'd appreciate it -- especially one of the people who signed the petition, since they are the ones citing the reasons.

What's silly is the lack of discussion and surplus of name-calling.

There are many, many concerns about the consequences of such a move. What are the concerns of not moving the offices and food production facilities?

Working conditions? Well, then why the petition?

Not enough products? How many brands/kinds of juices, olive oil, pasta, tomato sauce, soy milk, etc. do we need to choose from?

Workers' wages? Well if we consumer-owners really cared, we would donate the 5% discount back to the worker-owners. Last year, the 5% discount amounted to $357,000, or an average of $35 per member. The worker-owners, on the other hand, received $67,000, a 50-cent-an-hour raise.

What's really driving the consumers in favor of the move?
The Suburban lifestyle? Payback for the elitists?

I don't get it. WSM serves as a pretty good model of a community grocery store/bakery/cafeteria/common space. Their new vision has a centralized production facility 13 miles outside of the core store. That doesn't support community. It supports commuting.

It's not good that there already exist such disconnects between where people live and work. Let's work on having more affordable housing and denser development.

i lived in carrboro from 1990 until 1995, i worked there during that time too, in Carr Mill Mall. Carrboro was not "cool" then, it was just back-a-town Chapel Hill. Now i am proud to say i live in Hillsborough and have for over 7 years. It was rural when i bought my house there, but now its becoming the next cool place to be, which is too bad, cause cool means ruined as far as i am concerned. i was really excited when i first heard that WSM was coming to Hillsborough - i was even one of the 50 or so folks who wrote the News of Orange (that's OUR paper by the way) to condemn the town council for voting WSM's plans down and to support the idea of a co-op market in Hillsborough. i had no idea that the Carrberians would go ape-sh*t over the idea of sharing their precious resource with us. i thought hippies were more giving than that. Hillsborough seems to be considered the outback to Orange County - its only a place to go to traffic court or even better, ride your bikes. How many people from Chapel Hill and Carrboro ride their bikes on MY roads every weekend? And expect me to treat them right? i only fly off on this tangent to make a stupid point - i am tired of people from Chapel Hill and Carrboro driving the bus for Orange County - they want to raise my taxes, they want to develop the rural lands around me, and now, they want me to feel bad that i might want a WSM of my own. Well, after reading all of the above comments I have made an important decision - Food Lion is really not so bad after all.

I find it hard to believe there are more than a couple people even in Carrboro that rely 100 percent on buses and biking.

Chris, the 2000 Census reports that 8.12% of Carrboro households did not have a car in the year 2000, when the Carrboro population was reported as 16,704.

The average household size was 2.2 in 2000, so that means there were approximately 7590 households in Carrboro in 2000.

That means about 617 households with no cars, and at 2.2 people per household, about 1360 people in Carrboro who do not have access to a car. With the significantly-younger-than-average adult age skew in Carrboro, (lots of grad students and recent grads, most of whom have few or no children) you can be sure that the 1360 is mostly adults old enough to drive, and not schoolchildren.

Ok Chris here goes:
1. Carpooling is a lot more difficult for people who do shift work than people who work 9-5. We don't all start at the same time; we don't all have Saturday and Sunday off, or even the same days off; coordinating shedules is a lot more difficult than it might seem. Furthermore, people call in sick, go on vacation, quit, take leaves, have emergencies with their kids, etc. If a driver of a carpool found her/himself in any of these situations, it would be a struggle for people depending on this driver to get to work. Also, carpooling would add say an extra half hour(?) or so to the driver's commute, as s/he needs to pick up the other people. Of course, this would depend on how close everyone lives to each other, but as early as we start, an extra half hour of sleep makes all the difference in the world. These, and other considerations, make me doubt the practicality of carpooling as a long-term solution.
I can't answer as to how many people exactly depend exclusively on bike/bus/foot, but I do know that a lot of people live close and walk or bike. I think a lot of people enjoy not driving to work, even if they do have a car, as well as saving the gas/wear on their vehicles.

2. Increased production and mechanization: it is the increased production that necessitates the mechanization. We are opposed to the package deal, not just to the mechanization that would make the increased production easier.
I don't know if I am going to be able to explain this part very well. I don't want to be condescending, and I certainly don't know what kind of work anyone else here does, I just think the reason that we oppose the increased production and mechanization might be difficult for someone who does not or has not worked in food production to understand.
It is important to us to care about what we are doing, to feel that in the end, the product of our labour is a quality product, something we are proud to have made.
The shift to larger and larger volumes, to using machines, etc. is going to make this difficult. Instead of doing a variety of different tasks in a shift, like we do now, there is talk of one person doing the same task for the whole 8 hours (e.g. cutting fruit salad). While equipment might make this easier, the issue is the monotony of the work, and how this will impact workers' attitudes towards what they are doing.
I don't think I have articulated this concern particularly well, but I hope to have shown that it is not that we don't want mechanization even though it would make larger productione easier. We don't want either because we are not factory workers; we are bakers and cooks.

3. Decline in quality of product: this would be a consequence of increased production, mechanization and transport. As production demands increase, batches increase. Certain kinds of products, e.g. biscuits and scones, are, I would say, impossible not to overmix when done in large quantities. Overmixing makes them tough (read: qualtiy declines). Right now, the batches of biscuits are still small enough to be mixed by hand. Whatever people may think of the biscuit now, I am fairly certain they will notice a change for the worse when batches become too large to mix by hand. The pastry department has already begun using several machines, none of which have resulted in a product equal in quality to the pre-machine one. I have in mind cookies, pie shells, and tart shells. We now use a machine that pressed balls of pie/tart dough into the pans. This has, in my and others' opinions, had a negative effect on the quality of the product we provide. Transport: this is, as I hear my co-workers talk about it, particularly a problem for bread. Right now, the bread bakers bring the bread to the Carrboro store from the bakery. Customers can still get a warm loaf (sorry SV - but I am here taking up an issue that concerns Carrboro only, but just because one store's not getting warm bread is not a good reason for why no store should). Customers can still get a loaf that has not been bagged (placing a baguette in a bag, even a paper bag, affects the crust). Moving production to Hillsborough means no more warm bread.

4. Extended hours: this is not to say that we will be required to work more than 40 hours/week, but that the start time of the shift is being moved earlier (from 4am to 2 or 3am), and end times later (one shift ending as late as 2am). There has been widespread opposition among employees to working these hours, even with shift differential, because we are concerned about how these schedules will impact our quality of life. Part of the mission statement after all, is a fulfilling work experience. A lot of people wonder whether they will have a fulfililng work experience at 2am.

I hope I have provided adequate answers to your questions.

Daniel - at a guess, consumers demanded a larger variety of spaghetti sauces (for example) to choose from, and the store responded.

To clarify, are you against the production facility move AND the new store, or just the former? It's extremely difficult to tease out the actual issues under debate while the two things are being conflated.

I'm neutral on the new Food House; the workers' concerns are good, but I can see the positives of the move as well. I like the idea of a community store in my community, and the new Gateway Center is going to be able to provide a community center, especially with the planned riverwalk on the Eno. I recall hearing that the farmers' market will be held on that site, rather than in the bank parking lot.

The "suburban lifestyle," as you call it, means I have a good-sized yard to garden in and enough space for me, my husband, our 5 cats, our thousands of books, and the accoutrements of our various hobbies. (I sew costumes. That gets its own room.) When we were buying, we looked at houses barely bigger than the apartment we'd been renting in Carrboro and tripping over each other, or houses more than twice its size in Hillsborough for *less* money. Not a hard decision, there. Do I wish I could walk places? Yes, but not enough to get a smaller house for the same amount of money and a longer commute through worse traffic (54/15-501).

Would I like to work in Hillsborough? Sure! There aren't any openings in my field, however. Public health pharmacists are in short demand, sad to say. Orange Co doesn't even have one full time!

Laurel -- thank you. Is it sad that it's this long into the arguments here on OP before we get an actual worker's explanation of the issues at hand?

The increased demand isn't being met right now. Because people aren't going to just stop buying stuff, supply needs to increase. How best to do that I don't know. Increasing space and increasing staff sounds like a reasonable solution. I'm not a business person; the very idea of running a business gives me hives.

C.,

I agree that consumer demand is driving the decisions of WSM management.

But the question remains: why privilege the interests of the consumer over the interests of the employee/producer? Adam Smiths ideas are still just ideas. Why reify them? If there was ever a place to create an alternative business model, wouldn't it be WSM?

Although I disagree with Christian's tone; I do have to agree with one statement he made:

"WSM will continue to be fiscially viable. But that is all it will be."

What I hope will happen is that WSM management will see that their market advantage hinges upon their "difference." When they lose that, what do they have over Whole Foods? And if customers believe WSM is just in it for the money over the interests of their employees, and there was an out and out competition between Whole Foods and WSM, I don't think it is hard to predict which enterprise will continue to be "fiscally viable."

C.,

I agree that consumer demand is driving the decisions of WSM management.

But the question remains: why privilege the interests of the consumer over the interests of the employee/producer? Adam Smiths ideas are still just ideas. Why reify them? If there was ever a place to create an alternative business model, wouldn't it be WSM?

Although I disagree with Christian's tone; I do have to agree with one statement he made:

"WSM will continue to be fiscally viable. But that is all it will be."

What I hope will happen is that WSM management will see that their market advantage hinges upon their "difference." When they lose that, what do they have over Whole Foods? And if customers believe WSM is just in it for the money over the interests of their employees, and there was an out and out competition between Whole Foods and WSM, I don't think it is hard to predict which enterprise will continue to be "fiscally viable."

Ken-

What's wrong with Adam Smith? Maybe it's the econ major in me speaking, but isn't the consumer king, whether you want it to be or not? Seems like producer-oriented societies (like the USSR) didn't work out so well...

Again, I know this is being insensitive, but it's really sounding like the WSM petition is just a lot of (dare I say it?) whining that any of the rest of us couldn't do if our jobs moved?

Laurel-

Y'all don't work more than 40 hours a week even with extended hours? How does that work? Are you just part-time? Again, I absolutely hate to say it, but I have to say that it likely falls on deaf ears that "extended work hours" does not exceed the standard work week of most of us peons outside of Carrboro.

Chris - I don't think we are using the phrase "extended hours" in the same way. I am not using it to refer to hours individuals work, over and above 40 hours/week, although some of us do work overtime; I am using it to refer to the times we will be scheduled to work.
As I said before, right now, the earliest shift starts at 4am, the last shift ends at 10pm. At a production facility, the times people would be scheduled to work would change - essentially becoming a 24-hour operation (and therefore extending the hours people will be working). While there is nothing inherently wrong with a 24-hour production schedule (say for other businesses), as I noted above, it seems to conflict with Weaver St's mission statement.
I hope this clarifies what we oppose about the change of scheduling - we are concerned about how working at the times we would be asked to work at would affect our quality of life.
And by the way - I don't appreciate the description of our opposition as whining. You might be right that if any other business were doing this, we'd have no right to expect our concerns to be taken into account. But Weaver St. is a co-op. It holds itself, or purports to hold itself, to different standards of conduct. What we, the employees, are doing right now is trying to hold Weaver St. to those standards it has set for itself.

Chris,

I read a few posts on your blog. Very interesting. I see your position much more clearly now. I think, in terms of labor rights, we'll just have to agree to disagree.

Ken

This comment is a little late for this particular discussion, as it pertains more the land use issues of the siting deciiosn, but I note various relatively recent newspaper accounts that report the inability of Weaver St. Market to site a new facility in (or I'd guess even near) Carrboro for the Food House. That speaks loudly of the current zoning situation that limits or flat out prohibits construction of badly needed light industrial space for the kinds of jobs that will accomodate start ups and something other than knowledge based companies, restaurants or retail. There are far too many relatively recent examples of viable small, growing companies leaving both Carrboro and Chapel Hill due to our restrictive zoning and land use policies. The same can be said of Orange County in some respects and area. (anyone remember The Wizard's Cauldron sauce and salad dressing making factory that had to leave to Caswell County rather than be permitted to quadruple its production in Cedar Grove? -- just due to a septic tank capacity issue on the land they were on when they could have easily expanded their septic field on to the field right next door and not disturbed anything) I quote the following from their web site, not for commercial purposes, just to inform what we're missing:
The company currently supplies over three
hundred different products for the organic food
trade. Customers include Whole Foods Market,
Wild Oats, Central Market, Premier Japan, Simply
Delicious, Spectrum, Redbone Alley, Charlie
Trotter, Albert's Organics, Earth Fare, Ingle's
Markets, Topco, Lund's/Byerly's, Garlic Gold, Oliv,
Lavender Hill, and other fine labels. The enterprise
is still doing what comes naturally, and organically,
and continues to serve it's customers.

This is particularly poignant in a community that has endorsed the principles about locally owned businesses, etc. BALLE (Business Alliance for a Local Living Economy) and even paid its founder Michael Schuman (sp?) to come here and discuss it.

Inability to site a Food House nearer to the Carrboro store flies in the face of the kinds of economic development that I understood to be desired locally. Perhaps it is time to reexamine the principles and politics behind our land use decisions. What happened to the plan for doubling the amount of commercial (and other non-residential?) space in Carrboro to ease the residential tax burden?

This comment is a little late for this particular discussion, as it pertains more the land use issues of the siting deciiosn, but I note various relatively recent newspaper accounts that report the inability of Weaver St. Market to site a new facility in (or I'd guess even near) Carrboro for the Food House. That speaks loudly of the current zoning situation that limits or flat out prohibits construction of badly needed light industrial space for the kinds of jobs that will accomodate start ups and something other than knowledge based companies, restaurants or retail. There are far too many relatively recent examples of viable small, growing companies leaving both Carrboro and Chapel Hill due to our restrictive zoning and land use policies. The same can be said of Orange County in some respects and area. (anyone remember The Wizard's Cauldron sauce and salad dressing making factory that had to leave to Caswell County rather than be permitted to quadruple its production in Cedar Grove? -- just due to a septic tank capacity issue on the land they were on when they could have easily expanded their septic field on to the field right next door and not disturbed anything) I quote the following from their web site, not for commercial purposes, just to inform what we're missing:
The company currently supplies over three
hundred different products for the organic food
trade. Customers include Whole Foods Market,
Wild Oats, Central Market, Premier Japan, Simply
Delicious, Spectrum, Redbone Alley, Charlie
Trotter, Albert's Organics, Earth Fare, Ingle's
Markets, Topco, Lund's/Byerly's, Garlic Gold, Oliv,
Lavender Hill, and other fine labels. The enterprise
is still doing what comes naturally, and organically,
and continues to serve it's customers.

This is particularly poignant in a community that has endorsed the principles about locally owned businesses, etc. BALLE (Business Alliance for a Local Living Economy) and even paid its founder Michael Schuman (sp?) to come here and discuss it.

Inability to site a Food House nearer to the Carrboro store flies in the face of the kinds of economic development that I understood to be desired locally. Perhaps it is time to reexamine the principles and politics behind our land use decisions. What happened to the plan for doubling the amount of commercial (and other non-residential?) space in Carrboro to ease the residential tax burden?

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