Weaver St. Move

I recently learned from the Weaver St. Newsletter that they plan on moving their bread and pastry bakery, kitchen, and offices to Hillsborough. This seems like a big loss for Carrboro. The Chapel Hill News printed the following letter I wrote and I set up the blog OurWeave.blogspot.com to discuss the move.

The scheduled move of Weaver Street Market's "food production facilities" and offices to Hillsborough will result in a loss of around 80 jobs for Carrboro and have a detrimental effect on the town and the environment.

The environment impacts are the most obvious: 80 workers driving 24 miles each workday equals around 2,000 miles a day. That is a lot of carbon emission, and it doesn't include the added distribution miles of having a non-centrally located "production and office facility."

The workers will suffer most directly: adding an hour of driving onto their daily work routine; for many, having to buy a car; leaving their work community in vibrant downtown Carrboro; and for the bakers, having to start work at 2 a.m. instead of 4 a.m. to allow for extra distribution time.

Most of the food kitchen staff is Hispanic, lives in Carrboro, and does not drive to work. The impact on the Hispanic community is unclear. Some may move to Hillsborough and some may be forced to quit, weakening the fabric of an important piece of our community.

Carrboro businesses should also not be happy about 80 downtown jobs leaving. That loss translates to a lot of lunches, dinners, drinks, shopping, etc., done elsewhere.

Ruffin Slater lists some benefits of the move in the latest Weaver Street newsletter, but they fail to persuade me that Weaver Street would be following its mission or benefiting the consumer-owners. Additionally, I would miss the fresh-baked bread and pastries, the fresh hot-bar, and my friends whom I would no longer see walking to work or taking a break on the market lawn. -- Daniel Amoni, Carrboro

Issues: 

Total votes: 158

Comments

Daniel, have you ever attended one of Weaver Street Market's annual meetings or voted on their board of directors?

"That is a lot of carbon emission, and it doesn't include the added distribution miles of having a non-centrally located production and office facility."

Isn't there going to be a store in Hillsborough, and if they kept production in Carrboro, they'd have to truck the food to there instead?

There is, Michael. The building is currently under construction, slated to open in early 2008. He does have a point with the employees who live in Carrboro suddenly acquiring a commute. You know, though? I'd love to see Hillsborough become as vibrant a town as Carrboro, and having WSM here can be a help.

Ruby, it's been many years since I've voted since they don't seem to make it as public an event as they used too, when there were tables set up with info and ballots. Someone on the board told me that when they voted on the move it was folded (and somewhat obsucured) by a whole package of things. That person now regrets the vote. Sound familiar?

Michael, it's not that I'm in favor of centralized production--maybe they should have a separate facility there. But at least having it in Carrboro would lead to less trips due to the Carrboro store being the biggest consumer. During busy times, hot food bins are replaced often. That's more trips, or less fresh food.

Every town needs a Weaver St. Market, but they also need jobs. Outsourcing the labor to the next town isn't sustainable. We buy over 95% of our groceries at WSM, because it's money spent locally. When that changes, so will my spending habits.

Dan, I want to support *my* town and my local community. If you honestly believe that having some portion of the money come to a different town in the SAME county will harm the "community," I don't know what to say. The money is funneled to the producers in Farmville (Duck Rabbit Brewery) and other communities in North Carolina.

It makes me angry (yes, angry) to hear all Carrboro this, community that and have this part of the community ignored 99% of the time. If your idea of "local" and "community" is so narrow to only include the town you live in, and not the neighboring areas in the same county, I think that's just screwed up that strikes me as being counterproductive.

C. Diane, you interpreted my response as an extreme viewpoint. Obviously, "local" is not a precise concept and includes various distances. My point was that the more WSM looks like Whole Foods, the less likely I will be in making a distinction between the two when shopping. As it is, I walk to WSM to shop, but the free bus and lower prices on diapers and soy milk will bring me to Whole Foods now.

The Southern Village Weaver Street just expanded, and instead of expanding their kitchen they will be getting their baked goods and some hotline items from Hillsbourgh. What does this mean? It means a MUCH larger section for food products, it means they carry more things that we used to drive to Whole Foods to buy, it means less driving and more walking.

I like the idea. It has its faults, but I still like the idea.

Will this added space at the main location also mean WMS might create more local jobs? Could the bakery workers carpool, or are their schedules too staggered?

I don't know enough to have a real opinion on this, I'm just asking a couple questions.

Don't forget the Hill-to-Hill TTA route, whether it runs at those early hours or not i don't know. Also, there is OPT transit or TTA vanpooling (if Russel's questions about carpooling are answered in the affirmative).

If moving jobs 13 miles in order to centralize production and increase efficiency is not a harm to the "local" economy, then at what distance does it become a harm? 25 miles? 50? Greensboro is only 46.4 miles away... Why such a priority on Orange County? As long as jobs stay in the same state/region/country/continent/hemisphere, why should we bother with all this?

Just so we can actually read some info from WSM: http://www.weaverstreetmarket.coop/enews/web-content/2007/05082007.html

It's a fairly long detailed article, and it's worth the read. I'm not going to go through it step-by-step, but I will say that some of the arguments make sense, and they at least address the commute issue upfront.

One thing I do want to mention:

"The Food House will prepare baked goods, deli items, and packaged meats that will be delivered twice a day to our stores, in the same way food is now prepared at the Carrboro store and delivered to the Southern Village store."

I'm not sure I interpret that as meaning the hot bar selections; Daniel, when you say you'll miss the "fresh hot-bar," are you speaking from additional info that's not in the newsletter, or . . . ?

My main concern is whether or not Claudia will be moving to Hillsborough, not seeing her on a routine basis at the Carrboro store would definitely diminish my shopping experience.

At $3.50 per square foot vs. the $17 they say they pay in Carrboro, I don't know how anyone could question this move. I love that they will be productively using their waste heat. "Besides meeting our space needs, the Food House is incorporating as many energy-saving and environmentally friendly systems as possible. The food preparation process uses a lot of energy in heating and cooling food; these processes in turn create waste energy, some of which can be captured and reused. Waste heat from the refrigeration compressors will be used to make hot water for dishwashing, and waste heat from the ovens will be used in an Absorption Chiller to make chilled water for air-conditioning. "

The foremost area of concern is that "the Food House also presents a major challenge for our staff—the need to commute to a new work location."

They are referring to 80 or so workers, the majority of whom currently walk or bike to work. Many will need to be in Hillsborough at 2 am rather than the current 4 am. There is no public transit at those hours.

As an owner of this "community owned grocery", I experience WSM employees and worker-owners to be an integral part of that community. As an owner and a community-member, I consider the respectful treatment and inclusion of these workers to be as fundamental a goal of WSM as the availability of the organic produce I purchased earlier today.

WSM tells us they are "working on transportation needs, and identifying other job options at the Carrboro store for staff for whom the commute is not feasible."

Let's hope WSM's mission to be "fair" and "empowering" is realized through this process. Perhaps WSM management or board members can keep concerned owners informed through this site.

Dan, I do see your point (even if this thread is dead), and I agree that it's bad that some people face a commute they didn't have. But I do feel excluded from the Cool Kids' Club (tm) when "community" only means Carrboro, when produce comes from Efland or Hillsborough or Bahama, so these growers are being aided by the dollars spent outside "their" communities.

I can't tell if Ken left his sarcasm tags off, so I won't respond.

Is the thread dead ?

I have warm and fuzzy feelings toward Hillsborough as part of the greater Orange County community.

But I also know an additional tank of gas a week is a real burden on some families and individuals. That can come quickly to $160.00 a month.

As well workers who are walking to work may also be walking their children to and from schools (or preschools) or able to volunteer in classrooms or participate in parks and recs events in a way they cannot if there's a 26 mile round trip commute involved or if they are carpooling or being shuttled.

While I understand WSM's need to improve facilities and that the costs in Hillsborough are lower, I still hope WSM will work to find jobs at the Carrboro WSM for workers for whom moving work locations will be a financial or familial burden.

I've heard the kitchen/bakery workers are pissed about the move and they haven't had much input into the whole process. I'm sure it's good for Hillsborough, but at this point I think the negatives far outweigh the benefits for Carrboro.

Perhaps with the savings on rent they would be able to give moderate increases in pay to offset the difference.

One would think so but the co-op is now several million dollars in dept.

Over the past year several managers have left the co-op. It is my understanding that  instead of replacing them with someone who is already employed at the Weave or by someone with co-op experience the people who are hired come from larger grocery store chains such as Whole Foods.

Furthermore, the current employees are being told to work harder for the sake of the co-op. (without a pay raise) I've heard numerous complaints from numerous employees regarding the way that management is treating them. From my ears to your eyes it's all hearsay. But that might be the worst of it seeing how WSM is a "community co-op" yet there is no forum of any sort to discuss anything between nor amongst the community of employees, management, or consumers. If you have a problem fill out a 5x5 piece of paper and slip it in the 'Comments' box by customer service. Maybe you'll receive a useless reply within a month or two.

-disgruntled "co-op" member

 

C. Diane,

I was being partly sarcastic, but the purpose of my comment was to show a flaw in the logic of folks who argue that WSM moving operations to Hillsborough is okay because it isn't _that_ far away. Unless you define how far is too far, you can use that logic to justify a business move to almost anywhere.

Although I do agree that 13 miles away isn't very far, the decision still impacts real people with real lives. Centralization and efficiency are laudable goals for business, but they can also have some pretty negative consequences for employees.

Using the reasoning behind this move of operations, what is to stop WSM from moving their food prep facilities to Greensboro? Or farther? There will always be somewhere cheaper.

And if Carrboro folks aren't supposed to get upset when jobs leave Carrboro, does that also apply to folks from Hillsborough when jobs leave Hillsborough?

For those who life on the far reaches of Carrboro (i.e.- the annexed area) the driving difference between the two will be negligible. I've already decided my bread will be coming from the Hillsborough store. Shorter drive- fresher bread. No contest there, really.

But- we really are only talking about how this affects those who live in downtown Carrboro, right? Not the entire town of Carrboro. Because for many Carrboro residents the move to Hillsborough will make it easier for them to buy healthy food.

As for the workers- I hope they can figure something out. WSM owes it to their employees. At least if WSM wants continue to be seen as a collective enterprise that cares for it's workers. They need to come up with a solution that works for each person involved. Moving the baking to Hillsborough might be a good business move, but it requires more than a justification and an increased commute for the workers affected. From what Dan posted, it looks like they are trying, so I will simply wish them the best and hope that they can find solutions that work for all.

Orange County as a whole is more like a community than, say, the Triangle Region or the next county over. Moving to Greensboro doesn't make any sense as a 'community/local' option, because you'd be hard pressed to find anyone in CH/C who considers Greensboro 'community' inasmuch as Pittsboro or Efland. (Yes I know Pittsboro is Chatham County.) Restricting 'local' or 'community' to the county level makes sense, at least on this coast, where counties are fairly small. If you want to differentiate, 'local' can be the county level, while community can refer to a wide variety of things: the people who hang on the lawn, all Carrboro citizens, whatever.

I tend to think of it in terms of distance. Before cars, how far could a farmer cart his goods? 25-50 miles, depending on whether he was coming back the same day, at a guess. Horses are slow when they have carts on. Cars extended the range by a fair bit, as did airplanes, so we can get more exotic goods like coffee or chocolate or bananas more easily. But the overall cost of getting lettuce from Chile is extremely high, even though the price tag is low. (Preaching to the choir, I know.)

As Linda points out, Carrboro isn't just the 3-block radius surrounding Weaver, Main, & Greensboro Streets. That seems to be the working definition of "community" being used in the original post and several of the follow-up comments.

warning - ramblings to follow
I'd like to remind everyone that this is Orange Politics and not Carrboro politics. What is good for Orange as a whole, might sometimes not be good for Carrboro as a piece. The expansion of the SV Weaver St. was good for me and my neighbors. But, not good for Whole Foods, since I quit shopping there as much.

The kitchen center in Hillsborough will be good for those in Northern Orange, which will find a friendly work environment. Not good for those in Carrboro who will lose that environment to some extent. This is sort of a mini-NAFTA argument. Folks were against NAFTA and CAFTA because it caused a move of our textile jobs out of North Carolina. But, a New Englander on Daily Kos once wrote about how those textile jobs had originally been in New England and had been "stolen" away by the low wages paid in the South. So, what business movement is good and what business movement is bad? I would argue that local moves that result in a net local gain are good, at the very least.

As for the "what is local" argument, I would say that we can begin by defining local as Orange County, since we are all paying taxes for our schools, parks, and other amenities. To the next degree, North Carolina is local, since we are again all paying taxes to create better schools (failing), better roads (failing), better health care (failing), and a better business economy (succeeding).

Of course, this leaves out of the discussion the planet-wide implications. Can we always focus on what is best for "us" without worrying about what is best for "it". This move, for instance. If it is best for Orange County, is it best for the planet? Well, having a whole kitchen full of people commute to Hillsborough in single-occupancy vehicles would make that a big fat NO. From a planetary point-of-view the workers should all be local I guess, or the best alternative would be a shared, energy-efficient carpool. On the other hand, moving all cooking operations into a more environmentally-friendly kitchen sounds like something that is good for "it", as is increasing the stock space at the Carrboro shop (I assume that is going to happen), since it means less trips to other stores to pick up those items that aren't stocked.

Hmmm. All in all, I have to say it is nearly a wash, but I think it is a good idea. Good for some, bad for others, but all in all a good idea.

"So, what business movement is good and what business movement is bad?"

Why is business movement inevitable?

Why can't WSM keep employees here and hire NEW employees in Hillsborough. Expanding their operations (albeit losing some efficiency in the process). Their margins suffer, but their employees benefit. If they can't come up with a solution that benefits employees, why do it?

Best business practices are not laws of physics.

Ken,
You're saying they should have two (or three if you count SV) kitchens? I don't disagree with that on principal. However, I would guess the reason they are doing it is because it allows them to expand stock space in each store and to centralize kitchen functions where they are cheapest, and at increased cost savings. I don't think this....

If they can't come up with a solution that benefits employees, why do it?

is really their primary concern with this plan, more like their secondary concern after deciding the centralized kitchen is best for their business.

Robert,

I agree that their concern for their employees is not their primary concern. And, I agree that the move to Hillsborough will be in WSM's business interests.

-also-

I recognize that putting employees at the top of the decision making concerns is an argument that usually falls upon deaf ears. However, of all places, you would think WSM _might_ be an exception.

Look, businesses are going to do what they see fit. However, when it came to other business decisions in town (i.e., Carr Mill Mall and their rules of conduct), there was a lot of critical analysis about what the role of local business should be. For some reason, those issues seem to be absent in this debate.

Ken,
You are exactly right that WSM could be the exception to the rule that businesses do whatever they please without a thought given to their employees. In fact, I would say they are going above what we think of as "normal" these days.

About a quarter of our staff will move their workplace 12 miles to the Food House. Our staff has been involved in planning the Food House, including identifying space needs and evaluating possible options to meet those needs, so there is recognition of the benefits of a new facility. However, there is also trepidation about having to commute, particularly for staff that now walk or bike to work. Our latest round of staff meetings about the Food House are focused on how the Food House will operate, including working on transportation needs, and identifying other job options at the Carrboro store for staff for whom the commute is not feasible.

That they are unwilling to give up a facility that offers MORE and BETTER at a lower cost, just so some bike and ped commuters won't have to change, doesn't offend me. This isn't Wal-Mart asking workers to be "on call" for 24 hours.

Okay, Robert, I see your point. All I wanted to add to the conversation was that the rationale that businesses use to move operations, lay off workers, or screw consumers are almost always accepted at face value; as if seeking profit and expanding operations are inevitable forces in the universe.

I believe WSM will make a good-faith effort to ease the transition for their workers. But, that doesn't deny the fact that a lot of folks are not "bike and ped commuters" by choice. Often, it is because they can't afford a car (or an additional car).

If any other business was adding 60 minutes of commute time to their workforce in the name of expansion, efficiency, and centralization, I think a lot of folks here would be more critical. But, for some reason (maybe it's the allure of "fresher bread"), WSM gets a pass on this.

I understand what you're saying. As someone who sold my car and relies on the bus and walking, I understand the frustration that these folks must be feeling. I also agree that many businesses wouldn't bat an eye or even consult their workers over a move like this. Perhaps there isn't more uproar because they seem to be doing what they can to make things better for everyone, without forgetting about anyone.

Know, about the mayonnaise with corn syrup in it that they use...

Here's the link to my talk with WSM general manager Ruffin Slater this week. I hope it answers some of the questions raised here. The story is in this week's edition of the Citizen, which is hitting the streets right . . . about . . . now.

http://www.carrborocitizen.com/main/2007/05/31/slater-details-weaver-str...

Thanks, Kirk!

... I totally called the wages thing. ^_^

WSM is doing the right thing to grow and survive. Anyone who suggests otherwise has never owned a for profit business. As with any business, large or small, sometimes employees get tossed under the bus. That's business, plain and simple. Harsh as it sounds, it is reality in a capitalist society- last time I checked we still are one.

Carrboro is very interested in economic development, especially commercial - and for good reason. They need to look at the very sobering difference between the cost of commercial space in Carrboro and Hillsborough. No businessperson in their right mind would locate in Carrboro when Hillsborough has such a huge cost advantage.

Don't bust WSM for doing the right business thing. Ask why they had to move instead.

jmk,

It sounds as though you are a capitalist. So from one capitalist to another please let me explain that the subject of your quote below is a co-op. Not a for-profit business. This means WSM is SUPPOSED to be operating according to what it's members wish. If the majority of the members wish for the store to be closed on Sunday they let the board know. The board then instructs the GM that the members want the store closed on Sunday. The store closes on Sunday.

Now I say the WSM is SUPPOSED to behave that way. It does not. It is operating as a for-profit store with membership.

"WSM is doing the right thing to grow and survive. Anyone who suggests otherwise has never owned a for profit business. As with any business, large or small, sometimes employees get tossed under the bus. That's business, plain and simple. Harsh as it sounds, it is reality in a capitalist society- last time I checked we still are one."

ok.
I think some clarification is in order.
Let me start out by saying that I am one of the workers who currently bikes to work, whose job will be moving, who does not own a car.
In response to Robert Peterson, transportation is an issue not "just so some bike and ped commuters won't have to change" - *most* of the people whose jobs are moving bike or walk to work. Further, although "This isn't Wal-Mart asking workers to be “on call” for 24 hours", it's pretty close: in order to truck the food from Hillsborough to Carrboro to SV, and get everything there by the time the Carrboro store opens at 7:30am, there is now going to be a shift starting at 2am or possibly 3am. The earliest shift in Carrboro is currently 4am. The second shift at the production facility is projected to start at 6am. While there is talk of using a TTA van, the van will only be available for the 6am shift, not the earlier one. Transportation will remain to be an issue for people who work the earlier shift. (There is, just for the record, also widespread objection among affected workers to coming in before 4am).
And as to the above comments citing Ruffin's article about how workers have been involved in planning the production facility - as someone who has been present at these meetings, I assure you that workers have been involved in "planning" only the loosest possible sense - in fact, it seems that management meets with workers only so that they can say that they have involved the workers, in order to make it seem as though workers' opinions are being considered and their concerns addressed. Food workers at Weaver St. have, by and large, been opposed to the idea of an off-site production facility ever since the idea was first put forward.
I would like to conclude by noting that what Weaver St. is doing and the impact it has on the workers might be acceptable for any other business, I think it is important to remember that Weaver St. is a co-op, and so has a mission statement that is different from that of other business models. As such, it also has (or should have) different responsibilities towards its workers.
Call me an irate pastry worker, but I really do love my job - that's why I don't want to lose my job due to off-site production. I also think that what Weaver St. is doing, how they've gone about it, and how they're representing it just isn't right.

Let's see... WSM is wildly popular and needs more space. It's opening a store in Hillsborough anyway and so why not move some production to Hillsborough so there is more room in the Carr Mill store, which badly needs it and is pretty much unable to add any more space there. Seems like a no-brainer. Alternatively, we could all stop going to Carrboro WSM, tell our friends to stop going and thereby reduce consumer demand and eliminate the need to expand... :).

"As with any business, large or small, sometimes employees get tossed under the bus."

I agree. I guess resistance is futile, sorry.

I am afraid until you have walked in their shoes you will not understand.

BTW if you read the article about the move, they did try to stay in Carrboro but could not find suitable space. Uhhhh, Economic Development staff, where are you?? The "flagship" is pulling out of port. Sad, but who can blame them?

I'll start with a couple of comments on the johnk's recent post:

First, most obviously, the "flagship" is staying right where it is in the center of Carrboro. In fact, it's negotiating with the town to be able to expand there, creating more jobs and more community benefit as it does so. It is of course only the bread bakery and the major food producion facility which will move and the reasons for doing so have been well rehearsed here.

Second, the Economic Development staff of Orange County and the Town of Carrboro both do a fine job of facilitating quality business growth throughout our extended community and do not deserve this jibe. They cannot be expected though to pull empty commercial premises of suitable size and cost out of thin air. It existed in Hillsborough, it did not exist in Carrboro.

I'd also like to mention an aspect of the move that I believe has not yet appeared on this thread: a number of employees are actually likely to benefit from the move to Hillsborough because of the greater availability of affordable homes there. I know of at least a couple of long-term employees who have taken advantage of this already in anticipation of the move. While WSM pays significantly better than the local average for the industry, selling groceries is not a high-paying business and oI would suggest that our employees deserve any break they can get in the competitive world of home ownership.

Finally, I'd like to say I've enjoyed following the discussion on this thread. Thank you all for caring about your coop.

It's funny how much Laurel's comment (a href="http://orangepolitics.org/2007/05/weaver-st-move/#comment-111889">above) sounds like the same reaction I've had to being a member of WSM for over 10 years. Our feedback is usually solicited on ideas *after* they are developed, and one-one really asks the big question of whether we even want the market to grow.

I'd just like to point out that there are options to WSM opening stores all around Orange County. Look at Chatham Marketplace. Hillsborough should open their own co-op. The Cheese Board Collective in Berkeley declined when asked to open a store in San Francisco. Instead they mentored others to open their own collective bakery. WSM (which I won't call a co-op because other than in writing it is not) cannot not expand without abandoning its mission. From what I understand from the folks I know in the bread and pastry department there, there has been a push for mechanization as well so the quality of the bread and pastries will suffer. Hard to believe it could get worse than the notch above prison food that it currently is, but so will the salad bar. I hear they hired an grocery store industry guy from Albertson's? maybe? to work on the expansion/bakehouse idea and he is behind a lot of these changes which includes in addition to machines to pump out the baguettes - uniforms for employees and following the Whole Foods model. If WSM is going to operate like a corporation then it should just admit it and quite masquerading like a cooperatively owned grocery - and refund all of our "ownerships". Maybe they should change their name, too, since it is so obviously reveals their mission abandonment.

As far as increased wages go, of course its easier to say that than to do it so I'd be interested to hear what the reality is a year from now.

Maybe this opens the door for a real cooperative in the neighborhood. I'd like to see all the disgruntled pastry and bread bakers get together and open a worker-owned bakery. Anybody interested?

And Kirk, if you're listening, I'd love to see an article in the Citizen getting the real story from the workers. Their voice needs to be heard. Thanks Laurel for your input here.

Also, can anybody clarify hear exactly how WSM chooses its board members? I hear that some are elected and some are appointed. What's the ratio?

Ditto what Ruby said - where was the community discussion on whether or not expansion should happen? And where was the local media on this issue?

It doesn't make sense to me to fret about a few dozen people having to drive from Chapel Hill/Carrboro (CH/C) to Hillsborough to work each day when we ignore the fact that we already have thousands of people driving from Hillsborough and Pittsboro and Durham, etc, to UNC to work every workday because the people of CH/C won't provide housing options for them. The small town feel of CH/C that local residents like to maintain for themselves contributes directly to more people driving a long distance to work.

April - information about the Board of Directors can be found at http://www.weaverstreetmarket.coop/owner/

Essentially, the seven member board is made up of two directors elected from the consumer owners, two directors elected from the worker owners, two more directors appointed directly by the board, and finally the General Manager of the co-op (Ruffin).

I always thought that store in Carrboro should be open 24 hours. I was disappointed to learn otherwise a few years ago and have since shopped exclusively at th HT next door. Just hire one of the local thugs for security at night so you can safely sell tobacco (locally (in-state) produced) and lottery tickets. There's no reason the fearless shopkeepers at Spinx should get all the nightime shoppers.

Parts of this debate are bordering on myopic. Carrboro is a wonderful community, but it is certainly not the only one that matters in Orange County. Further, it's not really surprising that WSM would take the opportunity to move some of its operations to Hillsborough. If space is the issue, a move seems inevitable - particularly because of the price of real estate in Carrboro.

I absolutely agree that WSM has a responsibility to respect and take care of its staff and owners. But instead of mounting furious protest against the entire operation (and the very idea of expansion), why not come up with some ideas that aim to improve this process, rather than thwart it.

laurel,
I've worked the 5am shift at a bakery, not easy. 2am shift, sounds lousy. But, don't compare it to Wal-Mart asking people to be on call all day without pay. That's silly.

Also, I AM a ped commuter when possible and I love my walk (or bus) to work, which is why I live where I live. If anyone is on your side in general, it is me. However, what I said above, if you read through my comments, is that while some will suffer and some will gain within the WSM family, I think this move is an overall positive for the local community as a whole. Whether or not they took into account the feelings of the owners I won't touch, because I have no idea. There are elections of representatives to deal with these issues, right?

Best of luck.

One of the more critical issues involving the WSM Food House is the quality of the food. Quite frankly we don't have a handle on it now; that frightens me. We don't have a culinary team creating local seasonal meals on the hot bar or salad bar. There are too many inconsistencies with flavors, creativity and the quality of ingredients. Did you know that the chicken on the hot bar at WSM is commercial grade, not the same as the hormone/antibiotic free that is sold off the shelf? That the canola oil is a gmo variety, and that produce that is expired is put out on the hot bar/salad bar? And who knows where the beans or rice come from!
Oh yes folks, low quality ingredients for $5.99 a pound (foodservice supplier is U. S. Foods). If you ask a consumer about the prepared foods, they have this basic understanding that the Weaver Street Market "brand" is wholesome and that the cooperative is a "buying agent" for authentic food. The real model that WSM is creating is profit over people.

(http://www.weaverstreetmarket.coop/about/wsm.php)
"Weaver Street Market endeavors to act as your buying agent for foods that match your values. On a day-to-day level, this involves evaluating products and selecting foods that have the best combination of price, quality, and social and environmental attributes. On a broader level, this involves tracking industry trends and positioning our co-op to be able to meet your needs into the future. This second role is critical: as the business of natural and organic foods changes rapidly, we need to react to keep our product selection meaningful.

Organic is becoming a commodity
Wal-Mart announced earlier this year that it would greatly expand its organic selections and offer rock-bottom prices--only 10% more than its already-cheap conventional food. Wal-Mart's entry into organic food signals that organic food has become a commodity. Like every other commodity, Wal-Mart's organic food will now come from wherever in the world it can be produced most cheaply, including China.

Authentic food means products from our own kitchen and bakery, where we can control ingredients, quality, and freshness." -Rufin Slater

WSM does carry foods from China, Italy, and wherever else they find products to fill the shelves.

Have you been to the Southern Village store since expansion? What 's new there are more processed foods in the freezer section (which is added packaging/waste), a haphazard bulk foods section, expanded wine and specialty, and smaller produce offerings. The pre-made foods from the WSM kitchen rarely have ingredients listed. Is that legal?

Wake up people! If this is a real cooperative then as consumer and worker owners it is our voice that needs to speak up. Remember We Own It!

WSM just got busted for not including all the product ingredients on labels and now they are doing so.. notice a second label added to a lot of the prepared foods. I saw two days ago written on the chalkboard in the kitchen as a note to the kitchen employees? I guess, "Our canola oil in non-GMO and our chicken is antibiotic and hormone free." Maybe they've changed, but I agree customers assume that everything on the hot and salad bar is organic and it rarely/ never is.

The "bar" food at WSM is cheap ($1-$2 less per pound than Whole Foods) and perhaps switching to organic produce and higher quality ingredients will lead to a price increase. Would people go for that? If the food was better prepared as well. My feeling is since the bakehouse is going to happen, at least hire someone to revamp the salad bar and hot bar recipes. What is with 3 kinds of potato salad at the same time, more bulgur than parsley in the tabouli, those dull, soggy vegetables tossed in mayonnaisse, the mystery casserroles, and once and for all - down with the TVP.

I was surprised that the Carrboro Citizen article didn't include anything from actual employees. How about interviewing people who work there instead of just getting the boss' perspective?

The WSM hot bar has been terrible for years.

Sorry to be picky but there is a particular misuse of words that bothers me and I've just seen it described again as written on a board at WSM so I must comment. Neither WSM nor any other store sells hormone-free chicken and the reason is that hormone-free chickens don't exist. All chickens have hormones. Instead of "hormone-free chicken" the phrase should be something like "no hormones added chicken."

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