quote:Originally posted by Greg1920
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: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.
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: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: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: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: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.