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Forum, July 1: The Co-op Debate; Lebanon Barber Shop Update

Poor Tactics at the Co-op

To the Editor:

Democracy and freedom are being taken away from employees in the Upper Valley. Employers are “managing” with an iron fist in order to intimidate and keep their employees quiet and in line. The Co-op fired two of their best employees recently after they researched collective bargaining. Unfortunately, this is not a unique style of leadership and is being adopted by other Upper Valley employers. The practice of firing people for no reason is not illegal but based on an old New Hampshire law. I say it is time to change the law to protect people from bullying tactics and eventual terminations. Co-op members unite and send a message to the Co-op management and board that we do not condone this behavior and can easily fire them and shop elsewhere.

Lynn M. Purvines

Croydon

Unfair Attack on the Co-op

To the Editor:

Jim Kenyon’s ongoing campaign against the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society has now veered from trivial and snide to something much more serious (“Wine and Cheese Firing Party at the Co-op,” June 29, 2014). By claiming that when the Co-op dismissed two employees, “management hoped to cut off the head of the union snake,” your newspaper is, in effect, accusing the Co-op of violating the National Labor Relations Act. The NLRA explicitly prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for attempting to unionize.

I served on the board of the Co-op from 2003 to 2013. I have also been a member of two labor unions, serving as a shop steward in one of them, and I have worked at a law firm that represented labor unions. Thus, while on the board, I was alert to anything that smacked of hostility to employees’ right to organize and bargain collectively. I never discerned anything of the sort — and I know General Manager Terry Appleby and his key managers well enough to be able to state unequivocally that they would never commit the wrongdoing your newspaper has alleged.

If Kenyon or anyone else at the Valley News has evidence to the contrary, the newspaper should produce it. Otherwise, the Co-op deserves a retraction and an apology. Kenyon’s columns are often amusingly wry and cynical, and it’s great that he wants to hold the Co-op to its principles, but this latest attack is dishonorable in the extreme.

Donald M. Kreis

Hartland

Co-Op Treats Farmers Well

To the Editor:

I was somewhat surprised at the tone of Jim Kenyon’s Sunday expose of the Hanover Co-op’s handling of management-employee relations. We are one of the many farmer-vendors who does business with the Hanover Consumer Co-op, supplying a number of their stores with produce. In our dealings with management, we have always found them to be more than fair, professional and even- handed as well as totally committed to supporting local agriculture and locally made products. You are well entitled to write me off as biased.

Perhaps what concerned him was the reticence of managers Tony White and Terry Appleby to publicly discuss the reasons for the releasing/firing of the two employees. I guess as an employer I don’t take their response to mean that anything covert is afoot. I certainly might be wary of discussing matters of that nature on my farm with Kenyon. You make public reasons for letting go employees in a public forum and pretty soon you may be getting calls from lawyers.

I can’t speculate as to the real reasons the two employees were let go, even though Kenyon would have us believe that it is the Co-op’s resistance to unionization. What perplexes me is why Kenyon hasn’t been as interested in employee relations in some of the area box stores. It would seem the Co-op has become his focus of late, and Co-op bashing seems to be in season.

The Co-op is undergoing some changes in an effort to stay relevant and competitive. It is not easy for the Co-op management and it is not going to be easy for all the membership and employees.

I hope that as these changes go forward the Co-op management will continue to be as transparent as they can legally be and that perhaps Kenyon could spend a little time investigating the community outreach programs that the Co-op provides to its membership and the community at large.

Pooh Sprague

Plainfield

Update on News Clippings

To the Editor:

The barber shop on the Lebanon mall was completely destroyed in the fire of June 19, 1964. The shop was back in business in a new location, after losing only one working day. It has had several owners since the fire and now it’s located in the commerce building on the mall. The present owner has changed the name to the Lebanon Barber Shop.

Dick Courtemanche

Lebanon