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Wage Task Force: Open Letter 8/20/15

The Wage Task Force was formed by open enrollment of any staff who was interested in joining, and is comprised of a broad cross-section from many departments and tenures. We have decided to present an open letter of progress to the Staff of Wheatsville and the greater public. While we have offered our meeting notes to the staff, we understand it can be difficult to interpret these. We hope to offer a clear vision of what we have accomplished so far, and what we hope to accomplish in the near future.

During the first meeting, we all came with varied opinions about the state of wages at Wheatsville. It was about the freedom for everyone to air their concerns and state their expectations and goals. We had approximately 27 people attend.

At the second meeting, we began by reporting feedback from our co-workers. This is a tradition we have upheld since, with the understanding that we are ambassadors for the entire staff. During this meeting, we talked specifically about ways to raise wages. Opening a second store is a hard thing for a co-op to do and it takes time to recover. For more info, you can look at last year's annual report at Since we don't have a large pool of money to draw from, we need to be creative in our efforts. However, it is the priority of Wheatsville to deal with the wage issues before pursuing a third store. We have explored many avenues and have taken time to consider which, if any, benefits we might adjust. We had approximately 24 people attend.

By the third meeting, there were a few ideas that seemed liked realistic options to the majority.

  • Increasing Sales Per Labor Hour will provide us with more money.
  • Start brainstorming what it would look like to pay more to less employees. This does not mean pushing people out. But as people leave naturally, examining the work there is to be done and deciding if we need to fill the position with someone new, or if there are ways to absorb the responsibilities with our current staff.
  • Focusing on efficiency by challenging the systems we have in place and searching for better ways to work.
  • We also discussed our health benefits, since this is potentially an area where we can recover a great sum of money. The general consensus throughout the staff is that we do not want to lose our health benefits. However, we discussed exploring a tiered benefits package, which would provide more benefits for people who need more, and less for people who are looking for an inexpensive alternative. We are also experimenting with restructuring our breaks. These are topics we are still researching. This meeting had approximately 15 attendees. It's important to mention that our attendance is based upon availability, and therefore fluctuates.

The future goals of the Wage Task Force are to

  • Define what living wage means to Wheatsville.
  • Address wage compression. More specifically, dealing with fairness regarding new employees vs. tenured ones.
  • Come up with a timeline for completion.

We feel that we have made great progress towards wage satisfaction for Wheatsville employees. We encourage the staff of Wheatsville to keep coming to us with their ideas and concerns, and we will keep striving to work out problems and come up with solutions. Your help and feedback is greatly appreciated and needed.

It is a difficult task that we have set out to accomplish, but all of us together are working to achieve a compensation rate that is not only satisfactory, but will make Wheatsville a wage leader in our community.

The Wheatsville Wage Task Force