The Olympia Food Co-op is a part of an international movement of cooperatives. Cooperatives are unique compared to other types of businesses for several reasons: values are intrinsic and inherent; their purpose is to meet the needs of their members and the community; fairness is at the heart of the work; and profit is not the single bottom line but, rather there are multiple bottom lines (i.e. social, environmental). While cooperation has existed for centuries and has been practiced by many cultures, the roots of the modern cooperative movement as we know it today stem from England’s Rochdale Weaver’s Cooperative, which established the fundamental Principles of Cooperation in 1844. These principles and values are shared worldwide and upheld by International Co-operative Alliance.
The Olympia Food Co-op Mission Statement
Structure and Governance
Below, in alphabetical order, are all the aspects, or titles, that people hold as part of the Olympia Food Co-op.
Board of Directors
The Board is elected by the members, and responsible for ensuring that the Co-op follows applicable laws and business practices. They determine the “big picture” for the Co-op and oversee hiring, firing, and the budget.
Committees of the Board
These committees include Board members, staff, and members-at-large. They usually meet 1-2 times per month and oversee “big picture” projects, and policies that affect the stores and the membership. They are often formed to focus on a specific part of our purpose statement or bylaws.
- Co-op Development
Supports the development of new cooperatives and to educate the community about the cooperative business model
Coordinating our expansion plans
Meets with staff to oversee the Co-op’s finances, including approving the budget and capital plans, as specified by the bylaws
- Local Farms, Foods & Products
Improves relationships with local farmers and to increase food security and buying local in our community
- Member Relations
Helps increase communication with the membership, and can also trouble-shoot member complaints, and hear appeals
Gets the word out about Board activities, oversees donation programs, and plans elections, and the annual meeting
- Taskforces & Other Committees
Board-authorized temporary sub-groups, formed as needed
Votes for the Board of Directors and in other Olympia Food Co-op elections
All staff are collective members and must be a department manager or a coordinator. All staff are responsible for the operations of the stores, including carrying out the decisions of the Board and bringing proposals to the Board about bigger changes. The staff also manage our working member program.
Staff Committees (Coordinated Action Teams / CATS)
Staff members with jobs that might be considered management, or personnel at another type of store, work together in small groups at the Co-op to do work that isn’t specific to one department, and that affect all staff. These groups each have 3 – 6 members, and meet every other week.
Responsible for training staff, Board, and worker members in anti-oppression skills
- Assessment & Inquiry Team
A central part of the collective’s accountability systems, they direct conflicts to the appropriate venue for resolution and evaluation
- Big Picture
Facilitates interactions between departments and CATs, and coordinates big projects like changing our accountability systems, reorganizing staff, and structure
- Conflict Resolution
Members of this CAT are trained in mediation, and available to staff for assistance in working through conflicts
Performs yearly evaluations of each staff person’s work, assists in emergency evaluation processes, and supports our accountability agreements
Coordinates large and/or costly projects, and resolves immediate facility emergencies
Keeps track of the overall store finance picture, helps departments with financial goals, and proposes our yearly budget
- Labor Systems
Assesses and assists with improving labor systems for the stores
Works on interior store and product appearance, helps with departments’ merchandizing plans, and helps implement department evaluations
Manages marketing and education programs, including classes, sponsorships, social media, event planning, and represents the Co-op at community events
Manages new staff training, on-going staff training, and our conference budget
- Working Member
Manages overall working member systems, appreciations events, and troubleshoots problems
Oversees our scheduling agreements, timesheets, the labor portion of our yearly budget, and bi-weekly store staffing schedules