Saskatoon Co-Op Collective Agreement

Andrew Stevens, an associate professor of labour relations and human resources management at the University of Regina, says the co-op has seriously damaged its brand by proposing a two-tiered payroll system and the possibility of “freezing workers at the picket line” throughout the winter. “Financial sustainability is a relevant concern – what do you do equal to your brand if your brand is defined by a set of values and principles of cooperation, respect, justice and equality? How will this be undermined if, by definition, the work strategy you have applied as an employer opposes it? He added that as a co-member, he would not cross the picket line to do his shopping at the co-op. “I would go to a larger multinational.” While Kossick`s blatant interference was shocking, the refusal to introduce an education system — a principle of cooperation — was not. “There used to be a co-operative college,” he says, referring to the Western Co-operative College, which was founded in Saskatoon in 1959. “It was to teach cooperative principles so that we could ensure that leaders work within the framework of the principles of justice, sharing, democratic structures, etc. But, he says, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, “the ruling class destroyed it.” Danielson agrees that education is essential to a co-op`s success – and lack of education is an essential part of its failure. “If a cooperative organization does not have an educational program so that the young people who come to understand what the principles of cooperation are and what their ancestors tried to do, those organizations will fail.” Kossick agrees that FCL has a history of board governance on how to vote, and cites an incident five years ago, when Harold Chapman, one of the founders of the Cooperative Movement in Saskatchewan, tabled a resolution on funding and development of an educational program to teach the community the principles of cooperation – education itself is one of those principles – and the board of directors has repressed it. Kossick, who attended the meeting, said, when he asked the board members why they opposed such a resolution, they told him, “We were told to vote to defeat this resolution.” The board did not respond to Sask Dispatch`s request to comment. (April 17, 2019) – Saskatoon Co-op employees yesterday voted on a recommended agreement with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1400. Union members voted 54% in favour of accepting the terms of the agreement, ending more than five months of strike action.

But if members are true to the principles – and understand the principles of cooperation – “they believe in respecting workers and building the community to keep wealth in the community,” Kossick says. And that means not crossing the picket line and fighting for a better board. Thanks Sara – this piece clearly shows that this is not an isolated conflict, but a broader attack of logic of ideas against the cooperative movement. There are similar problems that are brewing with large CO-ops in BC like MEC and Vancity, which are gradually coming together (although we are struggling with their liberal spin on the west coast). During the strike, the fcL`s influence also took place in the media. On February 8, just over three months after the strike, the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, which dealt with the strike at length, published a story about a teenager-schorf who said she crossed the picket line because “the union`s values did not match what the company was trying to achieve.” What the Star Phoenix did not reveal — and what Rank and Files later reported to Emily Leedham — was that the teenager was the son of a FCL director.

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