"The Air is Electric": Changes at Our 6th Ave, Tacoma Store

By Jeff Bessmer, 6th Ave Tacoma Store Manager and worker-owner trustee

Our new co-op has been abuzz with actualizing the benefits of the merger in Tacoma. With an overwhelming mandate of 96.8 percent of Tacoma Food Co-op member votes in favor of the merger and conversion to a solidarity co-op, we have hit the ground running on implementing the benefits of the merger:

  1. Effective the date of the merger (December 28, 2015) our starting wage at Tacoma rose from $10.00 per hour to $15.36 per hour. Throughout January, we are signing up staff to receive benefits including health insurance, dental, vision, 401(k), and more. Our co-op covers the entirety of this expense at 28 hours per week, and 60 percent of health benefits at 20 hours per week. Before the merger we only offered health insurance coverage at 32 hours per week.
  2. Within five days of the merger we adopted the Central Basics program and Co+op Deals in Tacoma, significantly reducing prices around the store. For example, orange juice that used to be more than $8.00 is now under $6.00. This is one great benefit of working together and achieving scale, which is how we’re able to lower prices while providing improved compensation for staff.
  3. We’ve jumped right into projects to benefit the community: exploring the possibility of expansion,  bringing in more products in line with our co-op’s values,  communicating who we are and why we exist, and working to inspire the Tacoma community. The values of our merger are really what this project is about: leading the industry with our cooperative model, being genuinely sustainable, taking care of our community, and being a transformative example of what we can accomplish. These are the reasons our members supported the merger and conversion to a solidarity co-op, and those are the inspiring values we are growing.

When our community sees these values in action, Tacoma will discover we are a new, revolutionary model of how the community can work together and how the cooperative model can provide a real example of change for the future. The air is electric here in the store in Tacoma, and our unprecedented solidarity co-op is the source—but it is just the beginning. Together we are and will be doing amazing things.

Date: Tuesday January 19, 2016

Category: In The Co-op

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