Friday, August 1, 2008

Rainbow Grocery Declines Meeting with RBIG, Again

August 1, 2008
From: Rainbow Grocery Cooperative- Board of Directors
Re: Meeting request regarding boycott of Israeli Goods

We received your letter requesting a meeting to discuss a boycott of Israeli products dated May 28th. We would like to take the opportunity to clarify the Board of Directors role within the collective in general and in relation to our boycott policies specifically.

As you may be aware we are a worker-owned cooperative that does not operate in a traditional fashion. Decision making happens at Rainbow through the democratic efforts of our members rather than in a hierarchical “top-down” manner. The Board of Directors is not a body with the agency usually seen in a corporation. We are charged with the responsibility of overseeing the financial and legal aspects of our collective. Decision making on nearly all levels requires a collaborative effort by both the Board of Directors and the 230 worker-owners who comprise the Membership. Regardless of the desires of the Board of Directors, it is not a body that has the authority to institute any changes that would have a significant impact independently of our Membership.

Our boycott policies specifically limit the ability of any single body- including the Board of Directors, to institute any boycott or ban. The only responsibility that the Membership has charged the Board of Directors with is the publishing of a statement to the public related to any boycott decision. The Board of Directors cannot institute a boycott, supersede our boycott policies or begin the process of instituting a boycott without acquiring the necessary 20% of Membership to bring the issue to a vote. In short, it is only the Membership, and at that 2/3 of the entire Membership, that can affect a boycott for any reasons.

For these reasons, we respectfully decline your request to arrange a meeting with the Board of Directors of Rainbow Grocery Cooperative. The only manner in which an outside group such as yours can influence the cooperative to institute a boycott is to take the issue directly to the Membership via a worker-owner who will agree to be the sponsor of such an item and follow our boycott procedure. Any single worker can begin this process, but in the end it is only the 2/3 of Membership that can enact such a decision.

We hope that this helps clarify our boycott procedure generally and the Board of Directors’ responsibility specifically. If you have any other questions, please let us know and we will do our best to answer them.

Board of Directors- Rainbow Grocery Cooperative