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Your Board

Hi, I'm Your Board

Outpost's Board of Directors will use this blog to discuss issues the board is exploring as it envisions Outpost's future. Can't make it to a meeting? Check here frequently to read what the Board is up to. Outpost's Board of Directors. From left...
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Your Board

It's Election Season, Let's Celebrate Cooperative Principle #2

Sounding Board
Outpost's Board of Directors will use this blog to discuss issues the board is exploring as it envisions Outpost's future. Can't make it to a meeting? Check here frequently to read what the Board is up to. By Your Board on October 7, 2013

As a political junkie and policy nerd, I love cooperative principle #2: democratic control. It’s so elegant in its simplicity and so ultimately truthful that it stands as the fundamental electoral principle of our country and the goal of developing democracies throughout the world: one member, one vote.

I’ve seen the other model and it’s not pretty.

 

One of my first jobs out of college was working on Wall Street for a proxy voting services firm for institutional investors (ok, why any Wall Street firm would hire a 21-year old film major, who dreamed of making lyrical, poetic explorations of the human spirit and who had just spent the previous year working as a chef, to be anywhere near the internal workings of corporate governance issues for Fortune 500 companies is beyond me, but this one did).

 

What the heck is a “proxy voting services firm for institutional investors?” I’m glad you asked.

 

In institutional investing, such as a 401K, mutual funds, or pension funds, private citizens put money into institutions which then invests that money into a portfolio of companies. Those companies have governance issues, such as electing a board or changing corporate bylaws. Since the shareholder is the institution, not the person, these issues are rarely voted on directly by the private citizen who owns the shares in the funds.

 

For example, for those of you invest in mutual funds, your votes are handled by proxy firms, like the one I worked at where analysts research pro formas and trends and, acting as fiduciaries of the shareholders, execute thousands of votes in their best interests.

 

If you own individual shares of a company, you get a vote for every share you own, but so does the person, company, or fund that owns hundreds of thousands of shares.

 

That’s hardly democratic control if you ask me.

 

As you know, Outpost is not traditional corporation, and our board and governance issues aren’t voted on by proxy, as determined by a cadre of research analysts, and our elections cannot be hijacked by a shareholder who owns a majority of the shares.

 

They are voted on by you, our owners. This is the line that fundamentally differentiates the co-operative business model from your run of the mill corporation. You, as the owners of this righteous, economic grocery collective endeavoring to eat well and do well by our food system, elect the board to represent you and your values.

 

Your vote is your voice to express these values and it is the essential benefit of ownership; Anyone can shop at Outpost, but only owners can vote to help shape the leadership of the organization. This is powerful. On behalf of the current board, I hope that you will help us celebrate cooperative principle #2 by exercising your franchise this election season and help us ensure strong, continuing leadership for our co-op.

 

We have seven nominees to fill three board vacancies. You can learn more about each of them by clicking here. Elections will take place between October 1 and 15. During those two weeks, you can vote online, in store, or by mailing in your paper ballot (postmarked by Oct. 15).


Remember anyone who is a current Outpost owner can vote so help us get out the vote by forwarding this to all of your friends who also owners!

 

– David Lee, board member

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