legal

Analysis of Board Members’ Conflicts of Interest

It’s very common for conflicts of interest to be present on the board of a retail food co-op. Some even joke that conflict management is at the heart of cooperation. And in a way, it’s true. The legitimacy of a board’s decision depends in large measure on the board’s ability to demonstrate that the decision was made to further the best interests of the [...]

Cooperative Business Law Basics: A Primer on Organizational Structure and Capitalization Options

By Thane Joyal, Dave Swanson Change in the market, change in the world, can mean stress in the relationships within a cooperative as the organization adapts to the changing circumstances. Both having the right organizational structure and choosing the right vehicles to capitalize your co-op are important in making your cooperative responsive and resilient in the face of change. But their technical and legal [...]

Understanding the Fair Labor Standards Act

By Sarah Dahl, Melanie Reid 180 Sept-Oct 2015 The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, or FLSA, is a federal statute that provides certain protections to workers. These protections include the 40-hour work week, a national minimum wage, and non-oppressive employment of minors. Additionally, the FLSA guarantees time-and-a-half pay for overtime in certain jobs. The FLSA allows employers to classify certain employees as “exempt” [...]

General Manager Contract Template

Updated: August 2nd, 2016 Every board of directors of a retail food cooperative should strive to be an excellent employer for their general manager, the person who is responsible for the success of the cooperative. Clear expectations are part of being a good employer and contracts are one possible tool that boards can use to clarify expectations and provide for terms of separation. Contracts [...]

Why a Human Resources Audit?

By Carolee Colter, Helena O'Connor 161 July - August - 2012 An audit can be described as an unbiased examination and evaluation of systems and processes of an organization in order to demonstrate whether they are in compliance with a standard. The human resources (HR) function of any business, including cooperatives, covers all aspects of the employer's relationship with its employees: personnel policies, hiring, [...]

Who’s Watching Member Labor in Retail Food Cooperatives?

By Thane Joyal 158 January - February - 2012 When many retail food cooperatives were formed in the 1970s, the distinctions among worker cooperatives, consumer cooperatives and not-for-profit corporations were not considered to be barriers to doing business in a culture of cooperation. Regardless of the legal form used to organize the business, in retail food co-ops across the country, members commonly worked, carrying [...]

Precautions and Protections: Summarizing legal responsibilities of cooperative boards

By Thane Joyal, Dave Swanson 153 March - April - 2011 As cooperative directors, it's important that we know our jobs. Some parts of that job are personal to us: we bring interests, skills, and perspectives that make our contributions unique. It's our responsibility to use those personal attributes to participate constructively in the group that makes up the cooperative board. A key way [...]