A retired law professor and member of the group Co-op Members For Fairness sent a blistering letter to the Co-op’s board of directors, critical of the handling of the five-and-a-half month strike and the tense annual general meeting which followed.“I firmly believe that the behaviour of the previous Board, the CEO, and any other involved Co-op managers throughout the labour dispute, the run-up to the AGM, and the way the AGM was conducted showed a shocking disdain for democracy, the membership, and Co-op workers,” Tim Quigley wrote.
Bitterness lingers from the Saskatoon Co-op strike, settled earlier this year after lasting nearly half a year.
Liam Richards /
In his letter dated June 25, Quigley called for the resignation of all the directors, except the two new ones elected at the AGM.Co-op Members For Fairness (CM4F) released the letter to the media, saying the board would discuss it at its August 12 meeting.Meanwhile, replacement of the board chair was to be discussed at the Monday evening meeting, said former chair Grant Whitmore.Earlier on Monday, Whitmore told the Saskatoon StarPhoenix he resigned as chair and as a board member on July 15 because it was “time for new people to take over.”Asked why he did not step down before the June 20 AGM, Whitmore replied, “No comment.”In his letter, Quigley said the Co-op “behaved exactly like a competitor private corporation” in “a race to the bottom insofar as living wages in the sector are concerned.”He also chastised the board for its rejection of several resolutions submitted by CM4F for discussion and voting at the AGM.Quigley disputed the claim that legislative changes are required before the Co-op’s voting system could be altered to allow for balloting at co-op store locations over five business days. An amendment to the Co-op’s bylaws by a vote of the membership is all that’s required, Quigley wrote.He also scoffed at the CEO’s claim at the AGM that the cost of the strike was not known at that time.“I cannot imagine that the entire Board was not privy to this information during and after the strike,” Quigley wrote. “You must have known the financial bottom line in order to eventually settle the strike.”He also took issue with the decision to hold the vote for new directors prior to questions, concerns and resolutions from members “for the obvious reason that the discussion would have a great deal of relevance for the election of directors.”Neither Quigley nor a spokesperson for CM4F could be reached for comment on Monday.However, in a news release the group wrote that it anticipates “an appropriate response from the directors as requested in Quigley’s letter.”CM4F plans to hold a town hall meeting for co-op members Sept. 11, as part of its effort to “ensure that the Board reflects the needs and aspirations of the Co-op membership.”