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post #16 of (permalink) Old 03-23-2013, 08:18 PM
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quote:Originally posted by Greg1920

Voted yes for resolution 1. It prevents a small group of members from getting resolutions to the ballot and them being passed by a generally apathetic membership.

I am also in favour of the board recomending candidates as it makes it easier to avoid electing agenda driven candidates. With the general apathy in these votes it likely wouldnt be that difficult to hijack the elections by a small minority.

I think that MEC is a business now and these proposals are for the benefit of the business.
MEC has been around for a while now, and has been through turbulent times. Can you provide any examples of "small groups with an agenda" from prevailing to the detriment of MEC? Can you not see that may be exactly what is taking shape before your eyes?

MEC is a business, but it is a cooperative. Cooperatives are supposed to be fundamentally different from non-cooperative businesses. Here's a test for you: describe to me in three sentences what the gist of those differences are.

There's no question MEC promotes itself as being a superior business due to those differences, yet "talks out of the other side of its mouth" by continuing to abandon those differences.
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post #17 of (permalink) Old 03-23-2013, 08:57 PM
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quote:Originally posted by willis

Done!

I have to say, I had a tough time picking three candidates. When reading their profiles I was left with the impression this is a group more interested in padding their corporate resumes.
MEC has indeed become large enough to interest those climbing the corporate ladder. Back in my days on the board, I don't think anyone had any such aspirations. Even movement between MEC management and board positions was extremely unlikely. (*)

Here is the web page of Watson Advisors Inc., with their posting for MEC nominees.
http://www.watsoninc.ca/news/watson-recruits?page=2



That page links to these pages:
http://www.mec.ca/media/Images/pdf/B...9831164450.pdf
http://www.mec.ca/AST/ContentPrimary...ominations.jsp

A way of viewing this is that the board, which engineered a huge pay increase last year based on their hard work and responsibilities, then turned around and largely outsourced the nomination procedure (at further cost to the members).

Among the problems I have with the posting for MEC directors are the minimal references to cooperative involvement, and the emphasis on business experience. Directors are supposed to provide vision and guidance. As the management was adamant about in my board days, directors are not there to run the business. MEC directors are supposed to employ a CEO who is competent to build staff with at least adequate business expertise. If MEC is so desperate to build a board with people having relevant business expertise, it suggests to me a lack of confidence either in the senior management, or their ability to oversee the senior management.

(*)A few years ago, MEC thought it needed a certain type of manager. After an exhaustive search of the continent, the amazing conclusion was reached that the most qualified person happened to be on MEC's board. Unfortunately, MEC's Rules prohibit moving between management and board positions within three years. So the board promoted to the members a "ONE TIME ONLY" suspension of that rule so the director could take the management position. The gullible members voted in favor of a special resolution to that effect. The problem was that the board provided no information about why such a rule exists in the first place, and why allowing easy movement between management and board is a bad idea. It's a bad idea because the management has tons of control and even more cash. It is not uncommon for directors to aspire to managment positions. Any director hoping to work as a manager is going to agree with anything the management wants, as opposed to looking out for the best interests of the coop on behalf of the member-owners. (If there's one thing I cannot be accused of while I was a director, it was being cozy with the management.)

The changes being promoted by the board suggest to me that MEC's board comprises people who can never feel they have enough control. They will keep pressing to further degrade MEC's democracy, in the name of "balance", and "safety". On one hand this progressively will make it harder to root them out, but on the other hand each regressive measure results in additional members finally waking up to what's really going on.

The only scenario that would be effective at this point is a slate of reform-minded candidates, with their candidacies supported by special resolutions to restore the quality of MEC's democracy. I think that given the damage done in the last 20 years, this would take 15-20 resolutions. The candidates would have to be deeply committed to this issue - enough to make a hobby out of it. I wouldn't expect the board to roll over and let this happen. So the candidates would have to be willing to file member grievances if and when their candidacies were rejected. And they would have to go even further. They'd have to be willing to take the matter to court if MEC's board won the grievances by gaming the procedure, or simply refusing to hear the grievances.

On the other hand, most people have no interest in putting enough effort into studying the affairs of what is "just a store", to make informed voting decisions, let alone actually get involved. In the example of REI in the US, the route to being a normal corporation seems to have had little or no opposition.

Getting back to this year's election, we, the members, don't know if any candidates were rejected by the board. There is no Rule requiring the board to make any such information available. And even if the board turned anyone down who was sufficiently offended to file a grievance about it, there is no Rule requiring the board to disclose member grievances.

One problem with this year's election is that the board moved the deadline for submission of candidacies about 7 weeks earlier than previously. Though they gave more than adequate notice of this change as required by the Rules, I gather it took some potential candidates by surprise. So anyone interested should be aware that the deadline is now some time early in September. Which is a remarkably long lead time.
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post #18 of (permalink) Old 03-24-2013, 07:32 AM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by sgRant

MEC has been around for a while now, and has been through turbulent times. Can you provide any examples of "small groups with an agenda" from prevailing to the detriment of MEC? Can you not see that may be exactly what is taking shape before your eyes?

MEC is a business, but it is a cooperative. Cooperatives are supposed to be fundamentally different from non-cooperative businesses. Here's a test for you: describe to me in three sentences what the gist of those differences are.

There's no question MEC promotes itself as being a superior business due to those differences, yet "talks out of the other side of its mouth" by continuing to abandon those differences.
To me a co-op has two fundamental things, Any profits are distributed to the membership and that the goal of a co-op should be to serve the members needs rather than to make a profit. Now the last point is key, it should be about serving members rather than making money. Now MEC hasnt been run like this in at least 20 years. It has been run like a normal for profit business. Co-ops dont work with large membersips, there is little to distinguish them from other corporations so therefore when I vote I vote for things that take power away from the membership. There is no taking back the co op, at that size it doesnt matter so making it run as a more efficient business is more important to me then any co-op ideals

Why do I shop at MEC? Decent gear and amazing return policy. These attributes arent limited to a coop. Plenty of private manufacturers and companies have the same policies. If you actually wanted to shop somewhere for camping gear whose goal is meet its customers needs I would suggest shopping at cottage companies. ULA equipment, Tarptent, Zpacks etc, these companies actually make gear with the end user in mide rather than just pushing the latest gear.

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post #19 of (permalink) Old 03-24-2013, 01:44 PM
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Unimpressed!!
Online voting. The board gives no details about special resolution #1. Just gives a vague rosy outline to give the impression it is just updating paperwork. I couldn't find any link from there to actually see what it is proposed in the SP#1. What a bunch of horseshit. And you watch - it'll pass.

"Special Resolution 1 – Board Proposed

Your Board of Directors recommends you vote YES to Special Resolution 1.

Special Resolution 1 is proposed by your Board of Directors, and aims to modernize MEC Rules in three important ways:

ensuring they comply with co-op legislation in BC (some sections are out of the step with the law now)
better aligning the Rules with how MEC's governance activities exist in practice (within our $300 million retail co-operative)
providing for a higher standard of governance at MEC
Modernizing the Rules does not change MEC's co-operative structure. A lifetime membership remains $5 and each member is entitled to one vote.

Your Board believes that the new Rules will provide a balanced approach, bring necessary changes and reality checks to the Rules, and strengthen MEC's leadership potential while maintaining member input.


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post #20 of (permalink) Old 03-24-2013, 05:48 PM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by tinman610

Thanks for pointing this out. I voted for people NOT wearing suits and that actually had outdoor experience. that was a total of 2 candidates. We can only blame ourselves for not being involved and running ourselves.
It seems MEC needs the business person rather than a dedicated hiker / outdoors person who may not have the degree of any university but practical experience. It is a business after all and looking to boost the bottom line . You are quite correct that MEC has wandered from it's beginnings.
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post #21 of (permalink) Old 03-24-2013, 08:18 PM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by burnabyhiker

Unimpressed!!
Online voting. The board gives no details about special resolution #1. Just gives a vague rosy outline to give the impression it is just updating paperwork. I couldn't find any link from there to actually see what it is proposed in the SP#1. What a bunch of horseshit. And you watch - it'll pass.

"Special Resolution 1 – Board Proposed

Your Board of Directors recommends you vote YES to Special Resolution 1.

Special Resolution 1 is proposed by your Board of Directors, and aims to modernize MEC Rules in three important ways:

ensuring they comply with co-op legislation in BC (some sections are out of the step with the law now)
better aligning the Rules with how MEC's governance activities exist in practice (within our $300 million retail co-operative)
providing for a higher standard of governance at MEC
Modernizing the Rules does not change MEC's co-operative structure. A lifetime membership remains $5 and each member is entitled to one vote.

Your Board believes that the new Rules will provide a balanced approach, bring necessary changes and reality checks to the Rules, and strengthen MEC's leadership potential while maintaining member input.


If you click the read more button it gives you a pretty detailed explanation of the changes. And the specific wording of the sections being changed.
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post #22 of (permalink) Old 03-24-2013, 09:12 PM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by Greg1920

If you click the read more button it gives you a pretty detailed explanation of the changes. And the specific wording of the sections being changed.
I did find more information elsewhere on their webpage. But I couldn't seem to directly from the voting page.
The whole thing still rubs me the wrong way. Maybe opened my eyes a little.
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post #23 of (permalink) Old 03-24-2013, 09:12 PM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by Greg1920

Quote:
quote:Originally posted by sgRant

MEC has been around for a while now, and has been through turbulent times. Can you provide any examples of "small groups with an agenda" from prevailing to the detriment of MEC? Can you not see that may be exactly what is taking shape before your eyes?

MEC is a business, but it is a cooperative. Cooperatives are supposed to be fundamentally different from non-cooperative businesses. Here's a test for you: describe to me in three sentences what the gist of those differences are.

There's no question MEC promotes itself as being a superior business due to those differences, yet "talks out of the other side of its mouth" by continuing to abandon those differences.
To me a co-op has two fundamental things, Any profits are distributed to the membership and that the goal of a co-op should be to serve the members needs rather than to make a profit. Now the last point is key, it should be about serving members rather than making money. Now MEC hasnt been run like this in at least 20 years. It has been run like a normal for profit business. Co-ops dont work with large membersips, there is little to distinguish them from other corporations so therefore when I vote I vote for things that take power away from the membership. There is no taking back the co op, at that size it doesnt matter so making it run as a more efficient business is more important to me then any co-op ideals

Why do I shop at MEC? Decent gear and amazing return policy. These attributes arent limited to a coop. Plenty of private manufacturers and companies have the same policies. If you actually wanted to shop somewhere for camping gear whose goal is meet its customers needs I would suggest shopping at cottage companies. ULA equipment, Tarptent, Zpacks etc, these companies actually make gear with the end user in mide rather than just pushing the latest gear.
No, the most distinguishing feature of cooperatives is that they are one member, one vote, while non-cooperative businesses are one share, one vote.

There is absolutely no financial proof that MEC has been run as a non-cooperative business at any time. If you have proof of that, I think you should post it. Arguably as MEC's democracy is degraded, it becomes less of a cooperative. But it's still a long ways from not being a cooperative, and it certainly meets the provincial and national legal requirements of being a cooperative.

Coops do work with large memberships. Do you know nothing about farmers' cooperatives, for instance? It doesn't take long to research cooperatives on the Internet.

In a sense, our muncipalities, provinces and the country are run as cooperatives. Would you think it better if they were run as businesses?

And can you cite many cooperatives that have failed due to their governing structure, (as opposed to the number of corporations that have gone totally awry because of their lack of accountability)?
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post #24 of (permalink) Old 03-24-2013, 10:01 PM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by sgRant

No, the most distinguishing feature of cooperatives is that they are one member, one vote, while non-cooperative businesses are one share, one vote.

There is absolutely no financial proof that MEC has been run as a non-cooperative business at any time. If you have proof of that, I think you should post it. Arguably as MEC's democracy is degraded, it becomes less of a cooperative. But it's still a long ways from not being a cooperative, and it certainly meets the provincial and national legal requirements of being a cooperative.

Coops do work with large memberships. Do you know nothing about farmers' cooperatives, for instance? It doesn't take long to research cooperatives on the Internet.

In a sense, our muncipalities, provinces and the country are run as cooperatives. Would you think it better if they were run as businesses?

And can you cite many cooperatives that have failed due to their governing structure, (as opposed to the number of corporations that have gone totally awry because of their lack of accountability)?
I think we are agreeing on how MEC currently operates. It meets the legal definition of a co-op but really operates as any other business does.

My contention is that MECs primary purpose is now to be profitable rather than serve members needs. Even the eviromental initiatives seem to be advertised as brands and slogans to drive sales. Now you might say that since members vote with their dollars at the till that maximizing sales and profit is in fact serving its members needs.

As for larger co-ops working in terms of sheer numbers MEC is the largest co-op in canada at 3.8 million members, the secod largets co-op also a retail co-op is Federated Co-op at around 1.8 million members. The largest farmer co-ops in Canada are the quebec farming and dairy co-ops at 50,000 members. So the size of these co-ops is not comparable. And more importantly the members in a farming co-ops has a much larger stake in the outcome than i do in MEC or FCL and therefore are more interested in governance.

People being disinterested in governance is the real problem. It reminds me of student unions in university and the disaster that is the cfs. A small group of students end up costing the silent majority dollars.

Having only 5 members being required to put a special resolution on the ballet is rather ridiculous. I could waste a lot of peoples time with terrible resolutions and get all the member support I needed to do it at my family dinner. My family shouldnt have the power to get a special resolution on the ballot.

Also when picking members I would like to know who the board wants. Makes it easier for people to vote for status quo or vote for change. Right now you have no real way of distinguishing between candidates.

What is voter turnout for an MEC election? I would suspect very low. If this is the case than putting in means to make the co-op run smoother is reasonable.



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post #25 of (permalink) Old 03-24-2013, 10:35 PM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by Greg1920

Quote:
quote:Originally posted by sgRant

No, the most distinguishing feature of cooperatives is that they are one member, one vote, while non-cooperative businesses are one share, one vote.

There is absolutely no financial proof that MEC has been run as a non-cooperative business at any time. If you have proof of that, I think you should post it. Arguably as MEC's democracy is degraded, it becomes less of a cooperative. But it's still a long ways from not being a cooperative, and it certainly meets the provincial and national legal requirements of being a cooperative.

Coops do work with large memberships. Do you know nothing about farmers' cooperatives, for instance? It doesn't take long to research cooperatives on the Internet.

In a sense, our muncipalities, provinces and the country are run as cooperatives. Would you think it better if they were run as businesses?

And can you cite many cooperatives that have failed due to their governing structure, (as opposed to the number of corporations that have gone totally awry because of their lack of accountability)?
I think we are agreeing on how MEC currently operates. It meets the legal definition of a co-op but really operates as any other business does.
I don't think we're agreeing at all. MEC would be a very different operation if it were not for the cooperative framework. One could argue that it might not exist at all, since the currency of being a cooperative was central to MEC's brand as it developed.

Quote:
quote:My contention is that MECs primary purpose is now to be profitable rather than serve members needs.
But, any surpluses (since a cooperative cannot have "profits") are rolled back into the operation or returned to members via share dividends. The odd person might argue that MEC's primary purpose has shifted from member service to benefiting the managers, but that could be hard to prove.

Quote:
quote:
As for larger co-ops working in terms of sheer numbers MEC is the largest co-op in canada at 3.8 million members, the secod largets co-op also a retail co-op is Federated Co-op at around 1.8 million members. The largest farmer co-ops in Canada are the quebec farming and dairy co-ops at 50,000 members. So the size of these co-ops is not comparable. And more importantly the members in a farming co-ops has a much larger stake in the outcome than i do in MEC or FCL and therefore are more interested in governance.
I don't think you can compare just number of members. The average sales per member per year at MEC is something like $70-80 per year. Peanuts from that perspective compared to other coops. What about financial cooperatives such as credit unions. Do you know how much money changes hands within just VanCity in one year?

Quote:
quote:People being disinterested in governance is the real problem. It reminds me of student unions in university and the disaster that is the cfs. A small group of students end up costing the silent majority dollars.
Here I agree completely with you. However, it takes an awful lot of time to figure out what's going on with MEC, and you soon realize there's no way you can even find out a lot of what's going on.

For example, how much did the members know about the circumstances around the firing of 50+ managers about 15 years ago? Like, if those people really were redundant, how long had that problem existed, who was responsible for it, and how much did it cost the membership? No idea, right? So what happens if someone who was on the board at the time runs for reelection? How do you tell if they were governing competently during that time? You can't, because you probably didn't know about this whole thing to begin with, and no one is allowed to say anything bad about candidates.

Internet discussion groups were available over 20 years ago, and I'm quite happy to claim that MEC STILL hasn't set up such a site because MEC, contrary to its frequent claims to want member involvement, really doesn't want the members freely discussing MEC matters.

Quote:
quote:Having only 5 members being required to put a special resolution on the ballet is rather ridiculous. I could waste a lot of peoples time with terrible resolutions and get all the member support I needed to do it at my family dinner. My family shouldnt have the power to get a special resolution on the ballot.
MEC's Rules provide that a certain majority of directors can reject any proposed resolution they find unsuitable. Do you think that a Rule that staff carry handguns would stand a chance of being printed? This requirement has never been a problem. If there has been any problem, it is a lack of suggested changes from the membership.

Quote:
quote:Also when picking members I would like to know who the board wants. Makes it easier for people to vote for status quo or vote for change. Right now you have no real way of distinguishing between candidates.
Yes, but you assume you have suitable people already on the board. You have meager tools for determining if that is the case. I'd say that blind faith in the board, simply because they are the board, is ill advised. Sort of like trusting that US financial institutions will police themselves properly.

Quote:
quote:What is voter turnout for an MEC election? I would suspect very low. If this is the case than putting in means to make the co-op run smoother is reasonable.
Participation is extremely low. This was entirely predictable as MEC expanded into product lines that attract members who could care less about MEC's cooperative structure. Who do you think would be more involved, the sort of mountaineers who started the place, or people buying yoga gear? Is someone going to spend hours per month studying MEC's affairs to make sure they can still get good value on yoga gear 5 years from now?

This does, however, point to the need for more than just a liberally moderated discussion forum about MEC. That "more" is available in the form of Mark Latham's votermedia.org, which provides for competitive blogging about the affairs of specific organizations.
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post #26 of (permalink) Old 03-24-2013, 10:47 PM
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I've gone over the three proposed special resolutions in MEC's voting package, and I'm joining the people voting against the Board's resolution #1.

This is an omnibus resolution that reminds me of Harper's omnibus bills in the federal government. Though I have not done an exhaustive comparison of the current and proposed sets of Rules, I've seen enough to find one substantive change that is not mentioned in the supporting material presented to the members. This is Rule 19.13 which prevents the outcome of member grievances from modifying the Rules. (This means that a grievance about, say, how MEC presents one-sided support or materially incomplete descriptions to the members of the board's resolutions, would have no effect.)

It's difficult not to see that as a sneaky attempt by the board to preempt members from a direct challenge to the board's manipulation of the process for rule changes.

It makes me wonder what other changes we haven't been told about. No member should have to do a line-by-line comparison, and any board making that necessary is not doing its job properly.

In addition to the offensive and utterly unnecessary restoration the board's power to endorse candidates, after a 25+ year prohibition, this uncertainty of content means that the resolution should be sent back to the drawing board for either revision and/or better presentation.
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post #27 of (permalink) Old 03-25-2013, 12:39 AM
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quote:Originally posted by Matt

Not too long ago I was reading reading an article claiming that research had shown that people aren't smart enough to vote for what is best for them.
Change your word "smart" to "informed" and I'll agree.
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post #28 of (permalink) Old 03-25-2013, 09:35 AM
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Can anyone explain what ballot #1 is for? The description on the form just says something to the effect "This is a good thing. It will modernize (WTF does that mean?) MEC". It's the most useless description ever.
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post #29 of (permalink) Old 03-25-2013, 09:58 AM
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When I went over the candidates, all I could think was [V]. It seems like their interests are not the representation of co-op values, but, instead, to use MEC as a bump for their future careers. The fact that some of them do outdoors activities is more of a conjunct than a core criterion that makes me want to spoil my ballot. I didn't spoil my ballot, but voted for the person who seemed to qualify the least for a business position.

I am repulsed that non-grassroots members can join the board of directors, as they will likely never meet the criteria to be selected to run for the board of directors.

I'm quite glad that other people have noticed this too. There's a grassroots campaign waiting to happen... It's just, how do we get it started?
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post #30 of (permalink) Old 03-25-2013, 10:58 AM
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There is a statement of board nominee criteria which was adopted after it passed in 2012 by member resolution. It is no wonder then that the current board nominees are all corporate types because those are the only types that can be nominated.

http://www.mec.ca/media/Images/pdf/B...9831164450.pdf
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