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Co-op Obtuse 

Editor:

In the Aug. 8 Journal, I wrote that the Co-op hired a right wing, anti-labor law firm to guide their negotiations with the employees' Union and to attend all the bargaining sessions ("Mailbox"). I observed that is an unnecessary, adversarial, uncooperative, unfair act — since the union does not bring its lawyer.

Recent events confirm this. Bargaining sessions have been tense and contentious. There is no sense of cooperation. The lawyer is condescending to the union reps, the manager loses her temper, and the management-board takes a hard line that threatens workers' standard of living. This combative atmosphere has made this year's negotiations the most combative and protracted in recent history. This is the result of the adversarial, anti-labor position that the lawyer brings to the management-board side. The lawyer also profits financially from difficult, protracted negotiations, because he is paid for each hour they drag on!

The management-board has destroyed cooperative negotiations to such an extent that employees must circumvent the cooperative process and enlist public support for their negotiating position. They have collected 1,500 signatures to leverage the obtuse board.

I wrote a letter to the Co-op News on Aug. 19 to alert members to this. I received no editorial response, and my letter was not printed. This suppresses dissent and deprives members of important information.

This refutes board member Tim Silva's pious claim in the September Co-op News that "all Co-op owners are always invited to weigh in on what the Co-op will become." Silva and his board are paying a reactionary, anti-labor, anti-community, anti-cooperative lawyer to fight Co-op employees. Yet he proclaims the Co-op has an ethical concern for community.

It's time to stop prevaricating and cheerleading. Time to change policy — and personnel.

Cooperation with employees and community requires progressive politics of cooperation.

Carl Ratner, Trinidad

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