Sunday, March 24, 2013

Co-op #democracy reform movement growing @MEC @Coast_Capital @Vancity

Co-op members are waking up to reclaim their democratic rights.

Mountain Equipment Co-op:

Over 400 500 members of MEC have now signed an open letter "The C is for Cooperative, Not Corporation", protesting the MEC board's misleading labelling of a resolution that would transfer control of director nominations and member resolutions to the board. Members can vote on it until March 28, at I recently posted this analysis with voting recommendations -- please vote NO on the board's Resolution #1.

Coast Capital:

In a similar push-back, 438 members of Coast Capital Savings Credit Union (a financial co-op) have signed a petition demanding a vote to reverse a 2007 rule change that allowed their directors to decide their own pay, which has grown rapidly since then -- see the member-organized website Coast Capital Compensation Watch. Members can vote on the resolution from now through April 16, on paper ballots by mail or online at > Log in > Account Services > Online Voting. (Please vote YES.)

Technology Credit Union:

Last year, the board of California's Tech CU proposed converting it into a mutual savings bank, a move that has been criticized (e.g. here) as enriching directors at members' expense. Fortunately, a campaign to alert members to the downside resulted in their defeating the proposal by a 77% vote.

Vancity Credit Union:

In April 2012, the Vancity board of directors elections were criticized for being undemocratic -- see especially the article's comments. Although other candidates can run for election, the board's recommended candidates are listed first on the ballot, in bold, with the word "recommended" -- my analysis here.

Vancity's 2013 board election is next month.

We Want Our Co-ops Back!:

Last year I wrote a report proposing reforms for these democratic deficits, and emailed it to the boards of MEC and Vancity. But judging from our resulting correspondence, they seem unwilling to restore accountability to members.

So more members are getting concerned about the trend, and seeking to reverse it. Last week I published an article in the Vancouver Observer, citing the decline in accountability of elected leaders as a major cause of the 2008 financial crisis. Co-ops can become the starting point for a democratic reform movement that can eventually empower us to also reclaim our corporations and our governments.

We are organizing -- please email me (mark[at] to join us in re-establishing Co-op Principle #2 -- Democratic Member Control:

"Co-operatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership."


Mark Latham said...

Article in The Vancouver Courier: Mountain-Equipment Co-op ballot criticized as undemocratic (2013-03-20)

Mark Latham said...

MEC ballot criticized as undemocratic by members in this ClubTread forum -- e.g. "It's unbelievable that they would veto such a potential nominee as Anders [Ourom]."