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Forum, Aug. 1: Co-op Moves Forward

Published: 7/31/2017 9:00:11 PM
Modified: 7/31/2017 9:00:02 PM
Co-op Is Moving Forward

This is a letter celebrating the unlikely subject of a committee with a most unprepossessing name: the recently formed Hanover Co-op EL5 committee. To understand its significance, flash back three years when two popular Co-op employees were fired summarily by management under the terms of “at-will” employment. That firing set off a year of protests and petitions, setting an insurgent group, Concerned About the Co-op (CATC) against an intransigent management strongly backed by a majority of the co-op’s elected board of directors.

Fast forward two years later, and the transformation of co-op management and the board of directors is almost total. Not a member of the board that supported the firings remains in office; the top three managers of the co-op at the time have departed, and the new general manager of the co-op, Ed Fox, was chosen unanimously by the board.

The EL5 committee was appointed by then Board President Tony Roisman to address major concerns about the “at-will” policy and other issues of employee treatment, as well as broader issues of member involvement. Its composition clearly displayed the new consensus: the committee included a broad spectrum of administrators, managers and staff of the co-op, co-op members and members of the board, representing all sides of the controversies that helped give it birth.

With no trace of lingering rancor and with shared concern about all the issues involved, the committee unanimously agreed to eliminate any mention of “at-will” employment in all co-op regulations and policies; to ensure that all employees receive warnings about poor performance; to implement expansive grievance procedures; and now is working out plans for an appeal process.

Though this is only a first step to putting the co-op back on track in several ways, the comity that it demonstrates bodes well for an institution that is so vital to this community and whose core commitment to implementing democratic principles and the broadest possible community engagement are ever-more important when such values are under assault and eroding daily at the national level.

Phil Pochoda

Lyme Center

The Life and Death of Animals

Dawn Bradshaw’s letter (“The Miserable Life of Dairy Cows,” July 29) about dairy farming was life-changing for me. Dairy farmers have typified Vermont since before its statehood. In 50 years of residence in the Upper Valley, I have known many of them, including Paul Knox, to whom she was responding, and there I was, naively assuming they tended to be decent, industrious people. Silly me. It turns out they are all actually rapists, murderers and child-nappers.

I do wonder, given Bradshaw’s horror of dairymen and -women, if she knows much about the non-domesticated world of animals. Has she ever for instance seen, as I often have, a wild predator take its quarry and proceed to eat it while it is still alive? In my naivete, I’d always thought the life of farm animals was tranquil, compared. Thanks for lifting the scales from my eyes.

Sydney Lea

Newbury, Vt.

Stay on Your Side of the Road

In checking the news recently, I read that a collision on Route 4 in Mendon, Vt., left three injured when a car went over the center line by about a foot. Many drivers today do not stay on their side of that line, especially on crooked roads such as Route 131 near me.

I am not a timid driver, but do wonder what is going on in their minds when they think they can “take their half of the middle” of the road. Even more frightening are drivers of huge tractor-trailers who do not abide by the rules of the road when they either hug or cross the line, creating driving hazards for oncoming traffic.

I hope this gives a heads up to people who habitually cross the center line, that they are putting the lives of other drivers at risk.

Lorraine Zigman

Weathersfield

Hanover Sidewalk Extended

Sidewalk construction has started on Route 120 South in the Sand Hill area of Hanover from Storrs Road to the Tanzi Nature Area Road. This sidewalk extension will improve safety for pedestrians and children on bicycles. School bus pickup will be simpler.

The new walk was requested by neighbors and approved at Town Meeting. The Hanover Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee thanks the neighbors for their thoughtful, diplomatic and persuasive advocacy for the children. We will all benefit.

Work will continue for about a month. Traffic lanes will shift and narrow to make room for better bicycle lanes and the extended sidewalk. Visit the Department of Public Works site for details at hanovernh.org/public-works.  Thanks to drivers, pedestrians and cyclists for being cautious and patient.

Bill Young

Hanover Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee

Too Much ‘Washington Post’

My recent letter to the Valley News asked that readers observe for themselves the paper’s unbalanced reliance on Washington Post stories. The editorial staff may benefit from a more explicit tabulation. Readers may also find the details revealing.

Over the course of 11 days after that letter was submitted, we have counted the front-page stories. Eighteen of 62, almost 30 percent, were from the Post. Most of these ran to second and third pages, where 19 additional articles were also Post articles. Many dealt with the pratfalls of the current administration, as opposed to the substance of its legislative and regulatory agenda.

The editorial page was worse.  Fourteen of 28 op-eds, a full 50 percent, were Post reprints. It does not include a left-margin editorial also reprinted from the Post.

While many believe The Washington Post is a fine newspaper, it is not the one to which Valley News readers subscribe.

Tim Dreisbach

South Royalton

Vermont Needs a Just Economy

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott first hamstrung the Legislature and then vetoed the budget because his attack on the teachers’ union failed. But he was victorious in dividing us by pitting the teachers, the communities and partisans against each other. He used these tactics and other tools of the capitalist system to weaken the union to the point of impotency.

This type of power struggle is going on all over the country and will be replayed in Vermont until we understand it for what it is: a relentless campaign to diminish workers’ rights and privatize public institutions, such as schools, for wealthy individuals and companies to make a profit.

This strategy is shared by both parties. Former Gov. Peter Shumlin proposed caps on public school spending, and Scott attacked collective bargaining. These so-called “reforms” are false solutions. It is not the teachers’ health insurance that is the problem they should be solving. It is that we negotiate health care as if it’s a product and not the essential care that every one of us needs — rich or poor, young or old. In other words, health care is a human right. What we have now has always been an unsustainable model.

The state budget barely passed and not without a few compromises, one of which is to create a commission to study the advantages of establishing a single, statewide health benefit just for teachers. In Vermont where we already have Act 48, we need our legislators to act broadly on that compromise to establish a single, statewide health care system — equitably financed as a public good for all Vermonters. This is the appropriate solution — not scapegoating the teachers or unions.

We must change the narrative of benefits, premiums, deductibles and co-pays. Instead, why aren’t we talking about the predatory nature of capitalism? These are the real obstacles to realizing our collective vision for universal health care, a healthy planet and livable wages.

Who will help us create a just economy in Vermont? Contact UpperValley@workerscenter.org to join the struggle and build a movement for a just economy.

Sharon Racusin

Norwich




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