THE SEVEN CO-OP PRINCIPLES, PRINCIPLE #2

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WHAT IS A CO-OP?

Last week, we shared the first Principle of the Seven Co-op Principles, Voluntary, Open Ownership.  We’ve designed this series of posts to provide you and your neighbors with a better understanding of co-ops and the impact Grassroots Local Market will have in YOUR community.

This week, we shared and expanded on Principle # 2, Democratic Owner Control. One Owner, One Vote, of the Seven Principles of Cooperatives.

THE SEVEN CO-OP PRINCIPLES - PRINCIPLE #2: DEMOCRATIC OWNER CONTROL. ONE OWNER, ONE VOTE.

Co-ops around the world function on the same set of foundational principles and we are expanding on each of those principles in a series of posts to help you understand co-ops and the important role they play in your community.

As we mentioned before, Co-ops are businesses driven by value and not just profit, so it is easy to understand why the roots of co-ops are built on equal ownership and equal vote. This week we are expanding on Principle 2, Democratic Owner Control. One Owner, One Vote.  

 

SEVEN COOPERATIVE PRINCIPLES

  1. Voluntary, Open Ownership. Open to all without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.

  2. Democratic Owner Control. One Owner, One Vote.

  3. Owner Economic Participation.

  4. Autonomy and Independence.

  5. Education, Training and Information.

  6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives.

  7. Concern for the Community.

 

PRINCIPLE #2: DEMOCRATIC OWNER CONTROL. ONE OWNER, ONE VOTE

Co-operatives are democratically controlled organizations, where each member-owner has one equal vote in the direction, focus, and values of the organization.  

This second principle, similar to the first, is about equality. Everyone who becomes a member, and accepts the responsibility of ownership of the co-op, has the same rights, privileges, and standing as every other member-owner. With the equal opportunity to vote for the board candidate that represents their values, run for the board themselves, and vote on the decisions those board members make to the bylaws of the organization. One member-owner, One vote.

The Board of Directors, democratically elected by the membership, has full control over the organization, and can shape it however they collaboratively see fit. That said, running a business is a difficult task that requires expertise in the industry the co-op is doing business in.  To ensure that the business is competitive in the marketplace, and run effectively, most food co-ops (Grassroots included) hire a General Manager as their sole employee, who is responsible for running the business. The General Manager makes decisions for the business - what the staffing needs are, what products they carry, how they advertise, etc. All under the guidance of the Board’s stated policies and vision. The Board is responsible for representing the membership and maintaining the Ends the co-op wishes to achieve, and the General Manager is responsible for creating Means to meet those Ends.

All that said, the power of a co-op is always in the membership. Elect the Board candidate you see fit.  Run for the board yourself. Vote to your convictions. The only rule is that every member is afforded the same equal right to do the same.

As Principle 1 is a level playing field for anyone to become a member, Principle 2 is the level playing field for every member to have an equal voice, no matter who they are. It is democracy at it’s finest, and is a core fundamental to what makes a co-op great. Next week we will take a look at Principle 3 and we look forward to sharing more information with you!

 

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