Republished from Your Local Market Co-op's website.
If you are familiar with our business structure, you may know that we are governed by our articles of incorporation & By-laws. After the first few years we have learned a lot and have made some important changes to our by-laws.
Something the Board of Directors have noticed as a challenge unique to workers' co-operatives, is the challenge of transitioning from employee to owner. It is one thing to be a good employee, but to be a good owner at a workers' co-operative it involves a significant increase in responsibly. We currently have no formal training program in place for this transition, and as we have started to hire more full time & permanent employees it has been a challenge to give them adequate training in worker-ownership. When the business formed, the requirements to become a member-owner were only 6 months or 600 hours of employment and purchasing a $5 membership share.
When we discussed this with other more established workers' co-operatives they all strongly recommended requiring a larger investment. Many of the established worker-owned co-operatives require investments of $5000 or more, giving member-owners various options for payment including lump sum, or gradual pay-roll deductions.
Although the Board initially did not want to be intimating to prospective members, they have decided that it is in the best interest of the business to require a financial investment of $4000 within 2 years of becoming a member. This is to ensure each member is financially committed to the long-term success of the business, and decision making is made with the best interests of the business in mind.
The other change has been to the qualifying period. Employees are now required to work for 2000 hours before they are eligible to apply for membership. This change has been implemented by our new Board of Directors as it will ensure the prospective member has a viable year-round position within the co-operative and will have had adequate time to learn about the responsibilities of membership.
OVERVIEW OF CHANGES
- Employees (hired after December 2013) qualify to apply for membership after 2000 hours of employment;
- Within 24 months of membership approval, each member must purchase a minimum of 4 Class A Preference Shares ($1000 each);
- The Board reserves the right to make arrangements with members on a one-on-one basis to ensure various financial limitations are accommodated.
The Board of Directors has also been assigned with the task of developing a membership training program to be completed during the first 2000 hours of employment. This will teach prospective members about the business, the structure, conflict resolution, respectful confrontation and more -- that will ensure new members are confident and ready to become an owner!
Interested in becoming a worker-owner? Your Local Market Co-op: "Come in and let us know you are interested. If you've got some skills to offer, think about talking to us about a bartering opportunity. We've always got extra things we need help with!"