Sometimes, compromise isn’t an option

GUILFORD — Tom Franks' recent open letter explained why we resigned from the Brattleboro Food Co-op Board of Directors, so I won't repeat what he said. But I do want to thank those shareholders who voted for me, apologize to you for not serving out my full term, and further explain my actions.

I've learned during my life, often the hard way, that compromise is sometimes essential in order to focus on what's really important. But there are times when compromise just isn't an option.

When it came to listening to six employees, who are also shareholders, express their concerns, Tom and I had no doubt that the right thing to do was to listen. They felt that the grievance process was flawed and the board was their only reasonable alternative.

I am still dismayed that our actions could result in lawyers being consulted and charges of misconduct being brought against us. I want to emphasize that our “offending” actions were only that we listened and then recommended that the full board also listen.

Also, it's important to note that the union was supportive to these employees reaching out to the board. I personally buy into the concept of our board “speaking with one voice,” but I cannot buy into “listening with one ear.”

I truly hope some good comes out of all this hoopla. The employees of our Co-op are the engine - or, maybe better said, the “heart” - of our organization, and they are what make things actually work.

The policy governance tool that our board abides by is a wonderful tool but, like all tools, it has its limitations and weaknesses.

One potential weakness is that the board can become too far removed from the employees and their concerns, which I believe has happened to us. It would be a mistake for the board to start micromanaging the organization, but it is an equally serious mistake to become too distant from the concerns of employees.

When Patty and I relocated from Pennsylvania, one of the significant reasons we picked the Brattleboro area was because of our Co-op and the community atmosphere associated with it. I believe strongly in the cooperative concept.

As a shareholder, I will place renewed effort into actively supporting our Co-op in meeting the needs of our community, shareholders, and its employees, in line with cooperative values and principles.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

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