Photo by Justin Cook
Durham Co-op Market
About seven months after opening, members of the market's board of directors will consider a vote Sunday to nix the worker-owner shares currently allowed in the co-op's bylaws.
Modeled after Orange County's Weaver Street Market,
the bylaws grant workers the ability to purchase a separate class of worker shares in the business, which would allow employees who buy in to leverage about 10 percent ownership of the business.
The model also guarantees worker representation on the board. The proposed revision would allow workers to purchase the same consumer shares that typical co-op member-owners can purchase, and, of course, workers could choose to run for the board anyway. They would not, however, be guaranteed representation on the board.
Some member-owners and workers say it's a slight to employees. Frank Stasio, chair of the market's board of directors and, yes, the host of WUNC's "The State of Things," says board members are simply trying to follow "best practices" for a co-op, as advised by a group of consultants they hired to help them in their first year.
Stasio suggested board members who are workers would be constantly having to recuse themselves due to conflicts of interest. Weaver Street, however, has been managing this very same model for years.
We'll continue to follow this as it develops.