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."

Monday, March 18, 2013

@MEC director election endorsements: David, David & David

Members are voting in the Mountain Equipment Co-op board of directors election until March 28, at Here's how I plan to vote and why:

Board of Directors (vote for up to 3):

1. David Goldsmith
2. David Wartman
3. David Wexler


Published today in Vancouver Observer: We want our co-ops back @MEC @Coast_Capital

Today (2013-03-18) the Vancouver Observer news website published my opinion piece "We want our co-ops back".

It describes how the boards of Mountain Equipment Co-op and Coast Capital Savings have been changing the rules in ways that shift power from members to boards. This undermines the accountability of elected leaders to voters -- the same trend that caused our 2008 financial crisis.

But we can reverse the trend -- see how in the Vancouver Observer article.

[BTW the above linked article is a 2-page overview, partly based on my 24-page in-depth report with the same title but capitalized: "We Want Our Co-ops Back". Sorry for any confusion but I love that title!]

Thursday, March 14, 2013

@MEC Vote NO on Mountain Equipment Co-op Resolution #1

Time is running out for us MEC members to defend our democratic rights by rejecting the Board's proposed Resolution #1. To understand what's at stake, look at what happened last year:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

@MEC @Vancity #CIRA boards unwilling to restore accountability to members

Last year, I studied the trend toward violating the second fundamental principle of co-operatives -- democratic member control -- as co-ops become large. As examples, I focused on three organizations: Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), Vancity Credit Union, and the Canadian Internet Registration Authority. (CIRA, which manages the .ca domain, is not formally a co-op but faces similar issues of accountability.)

I wrote a detailed exposé of how these organizations' boards have been changing the rules in ways that shift power to themselves by reducing their accountability to members, while maintaining a facade of democracy -- see We Want Our Co-ops Back at Last September I announced the first draft on this blog and on Twitter, and emailed it to all three boards, inviting feedback. Here I'll report how they have responded so far.

To make it easier for them to give at least a partial response in the near term, in December I suggested that they focus on just two practical reform questions:
1. Do you plan to create a year-round online member forum?
2. Do you plan to create a competition for informing members, in which members vote to allocate award funds?
For both these questions: If so, when? If not, why not?
Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC):