2016 Board Elections Q&A: Rick Donegan

Rick Donegan
Rick Donegan. Image courtesy Drea Leanza.

1. For leaders of organizations such as HWFC, what situations do you think require disclosure of important information to membership, and what situations do you think require confidentiality?

I believe that total, complete, and crystal-clear communication of all information is imperative between the Board of Directors, Members, Workers, Staff, and Management of our Co-op. Bad things can happen when a few people are allowed to determine what information “is” and what “is not” important. I have talked to several people that say, “I was not aware of that…”, “I was not given that information….”, “I had to sign a statement of confidentiality…”. Our Members cannot make correct decisions on important issues unless they have all the information in a timely manner.  The only exception to full disclosure should be a person’s private information that is protected by New York State law and the laws of The United States of America.

3. How can the Co-op survive financially without compromising its values?

You cannot fill a bucket with water if it is full of holes. The financial survival of the Co-op does not require us to compromise our values any more than it requires us to give up our discount or to end the Member-Worker Program. I thank the people who plugged some of the holes in our bucket so we can start refilling it again. But only sound business practices and continued transparent oversight of all operations and finances of our Co-op will insure its financial survival. We should never compromise our values. We should stand by them and promote them every chance we get. We will survive by being what we are, The Honest Weight Co-op.

4. Per the bylaws, Members have operational control over HWFC. What does that mean for Board Members? Are you in favor of the Membership having the ultimate decision-making authority?

I believe this means Board Members are stewards of the Co-op, responsible for the overall well-being of the Co-op through the adherence of its By-Laws. By having open elections of the Board of Directors by its Members, I feel the Membership is the ultimate decision-making authority

5. Over the past few years many staff members have talked about unionization. What are your thoughts on this?

Workers have to consider unions when they feel their needs are not met by their employer or they do not feel secure in their employment. I think it is up to the leaders in any business to listen to their employees’ needs and provide the best benefit package they can. As we go forward I think we, as a Member-owned business, should revisit our Employee benefit package and develop a “goof-proof” plan to show paid Staff and Member Workers just how important they are to the success of our Co-op. I do not think a union can get us anything we can’t give ourselves.