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River Valley Co-op is a great place to shop. But for workers, it's a different story.

We can be proud of Northampton's co-op in many ways. At the same time, it faces serious challenges and is falling short on values that owners and community members expect it to uphold. The most pressing problem is how our co-op treats its workers, who are struggling for fair compensation, a safe and respectful workplace, and a living wage. For owner-members especially, this is both a disappointment and a call to action. We’ve enjoyed the privileges of shopping at River Valley Co-op since 2008. Now we are reminded of the responsibilities. Let’s make sure it matures into the store — and the workplace — it was founded to be.

For our workers, a struggle since day one

RVC workers are “holding a bad check,” writes owner-member number 10. Where is the respectful, collaborative workplace they were promised? The problem is both managerial and structural, and change depends on owner-member involvement.

Annual meeting: Democracy in action (not)

You might assume that the annual meeting of River Valley Co-op would be a good place to exchange views, information, and concerns with other co-op owners. Well, not if management and the board don’t like what you have to say. Check out what they did.

Why didn’t management give us a clean shuttle settlement?

After unprecedented public pressure, co-op management made some constructive changes to the labor contract. But by engaging in retaliation and seeking to curtail workers’ ability to speak out, they reinforced workers’ mistrust. Instead of better labor relations, they’ve sown further discord.

Exploring our co-op’s transparency: round 2

Does the board maintain that the co-op should be only as transparent as required by Massachusetts corporate laws? The board recently denied a request for figures on managers’ salaries, and we’re still trying to understand why. Here’s the latest follow-up request, submitted by nine owners.

Most workers agree: we have a problem

River Valley Co-op’s management and board of directors often seem intent on minimizing the unrest among the staff, usually referring to “some” employees.” But in May of 2016, 77 bargaining unit workers signed an internal petition to the board of directors outlining multiple concerns about working conditions and the management of the store.

What does “transparency” mean at RVC?

What should transparency mean at our co-op? There’s not necessarily a simple answer to that. But at the moment, we’re finding out what it means in practice. Our co-op bylaws are very generous about owner access to information, but the board of directors recently denied a request for figures on managerial salaries. Why?

RVC is a great place to shop. Let's make it
a great place to work!

Petition for a clean settlement

Tell the board and the general manager you want a clean settlement to the shuttle issue: NO to retaliation, NO to “reassignment,” NO to silencing our workers. Petition

Tell the board what you think

Attend a board meeting: Second Wednesday of the month, 6:30, upstairs at the co-op. It starts with a comment period. Or contact individual board members or the general manager. Contact

Leave a comment at the store

When you're at the store to shop, you can always leave a comment in the box at the customer service desk. Include your member-owner number if you have one. Management does read these!
  • "Half the trouble in life is caused by pretending there isn't any."
    Edith Wharton
  • “If you’re trying to create a high-trust organization, an organization where people are all-for-one and one-for-all, you can’t have secrets.”
    Whole Foods CEO John MacKey