I attended a forum advertised as a collaboration between the Olympia Food Co-op and the Olympia Library on June 29: “Coop Principles in Action” written in bold.
The flyer read: “One way Cooperatives are unique from other business structures is that they adhere to a set of International Cooperative Principles that have to do with member participation, concern for community.” Interestingly, this event fell close to the third anniversary of the OFC’s boycott of Israel.
At the forum, a senior co-op staffer claimed that OFC was member-owned and very committed to membership involvement. He repeated that numerous times. OFC is not a co-op. It is a nonprofit corporation that is member-supported. It is precisely why the co-op prevailed in the boycott lawsuit. OFC declared that important fact and therefore, legally, could ignore the membership and override the clearly written boycott bylaw policy.
And the co-op chose not only to defend itself against loyal members who simply wanted to overturn an unjust boycott, but to punish them for daring to question the board’s sneaky, undemocratic, secretive vote.
International co-operative principles? Membership involvement? Concern for community? OFC poked a finger in the eye of the Jewish community (and many others) and didn’t care.
Since that time there has been no effort to address or rectify their mistake. And they claim to be a co-op? The event was hypocritical, misleading and disingenuous because none of OFC principles were put into action. All the co-op accomplished was fracturing our community.