Friday, August 6, 2010

Latest Update from Board of Directors re: Boycott

Note: Members will also receive this in our newest newsletter, which they should receive very soon.

The Board of Directors would like to acknowledge and appreciate the passion being expressed by members over the recent decision to honor the called boycott of Israeli products. Members who oppose the boycott, members who support the boycott, and members whose primary concern has been the process used to make the decision have taken the opportunity to raise their voices in the aftermath of the decision. We thank you all for your engagement.

We are honored by the level of concern and care our members feel for the Co-op, and have appreciated the willingness of individuals and groups to maintain respectful discourse and share the space at the Co-op.

How the decision came to be made by the board:

Over two years ago the Co-op staff received a suggestion from a volunteer cashier, who requested that we honor the boycott of Israeli products. Per the current boycott policy, the request was routed to the Merchandising Team to evaluate and create a proposal for staff’s consideration. Recognizing the strong feelings among staff on both sides of the issue, the team, rather than making a proposal to staff, opted to send the issue to the board of directors.

At the May 2010 board meeting, the board sent the issue back to staff with the request that staff first go through the consensus process outlined in the boycott policy. The staff rep to the board was asked to create a proposal for staff to consider.

In the process of consideration of the proposal, several staff members expressed strong support for the proposal, while several others indicated that they would block the proposal from moving forward. Most staff expressed opinions somewhere in between. All staff members were given the opportunity in their work group meetings to express their feelings and positions on the boycott. The feedback was reported to the board, and the proposal was sent to us for further consideration.

The board consented to the proposal in our monthly meeting July 15, 2010. At the same meeting we agreed to sponsor a member forum on the issue. The board also asked the staff to review the boycott policy.

Since the decision, the Co-op has received hundreds of messages by phone and e-mail, both in support and in opposition to the boycott and to the process used to make the decision. Supporters and opponents have rallied at the Co-op and spent hours tabling at the store. Board members have been in attendance at the stores, listening to members, relaying member feedback to the board as a whole, and using this information to consider the next steps.

At this time the board makes the following commitments:

The Process: We believe that we were operating within the letter of co-op policies when we approved this boycott proposal. After listening to member concerns we agree that these policies could be improved. We commit to work with staff and members to review and revise the current boycott policy and board procedures for soliciting member input such as posting board agendas on the web-site prior to each monthly meeting.

The Content: We acknowledge that some of the wording of the boycott can be interpreted in more than one way. We recognize the right of all people, including Israelis & Palestinians, to live in peace and security. We commit to working with members on clarifying the boycott proposal to be explicit with these goals.

What Next: We commit to creating a process to provide members an opportunity to express their opinion regarding the boycott. This process will include at least one member forum and may include a member ballot.

At this time the board is listening to member feedback and ideas for the next steps. Information gathered at the member forum as well as conversations with community members will help us guide the process moving forward. We commit to keeping members informed and involved as we consider what is best for our organization.

In the meantime, we encourage all members to stay engaged in the process by attending the Member Forum, Thursday, August 12th, 6:00-8:30 pm. The forum will be held at the Olympia Center, 220 N. Capital Way. Members will be seated first, then if there is additional space, community members will be invited to observe. Bring your membership card.

Check the Co-op’s web-site for other events & communication on this issue.
You can continue to contact the board by writing, or calling 360-357-1106 extension 13.