General Meeting Procedures & Guidelines

This page contains three sections about the General Meeting. Please continue reading or use one of these links:

Guide to General & Annual Meetings

The General Meeting’s (and Annual Meeting’s) rules of conduct are embodied in a document, approved at the May 2011 General Meeting. The Guide to the General Meeting and Annual Meetings is currently available as a PDF.

Meeting Format

The General Meeting Format document is available as a two page PDF. Page One, Page Two

The GM and the Board of Directors

Revised and updated by Michael Salgo
Attorney for the Park Slope Food Coop
January 2016

The Coop is a non-stock membership cooperative governed by the NYS Cooperative Cooperation Law (CCL) and the NYS Business Corporations Law (BCL). The procedures that it must follow are set out by its bylaws, the CCL and the BCL. Like all membership cooperatives, the Coop has members, officers and a Board of Directors. The term “member” in a non-stock cooperative means the same thing as the term “shareholder” in a corporation that issues stock.

The BCL essentially requires that a corporation be managed by a board of directors. Before the Coop was incorporated, it had been governed by an assembly called the General Meeting (GM), and that tradition was continued following incorporation in 1977. The Coop’s bylaws provided a continuing role for the GM by requiring the directors to “receive advice of the members” on all matters coming before the directors. Specifically, the Coop’s bylaws require the Board of Directors to meet at least ten times a year and to give notice to (i.e. invite) the members prior to each meeting. The bylaws also require the Board of Directors to “inform those members who shall be present of the nature of the business to come before the directors and receive the advice of the members on such matters.” (Article VI)

The directors are persons who were elected to the Board by the members at an annual meeting of the membership. Historically, the directors’ decisions have always been based on the advice received from the members of the GM. Directors are not required to ratify decisions made by the GM, however; they are legally bound to use their business judgment and act in the best interests of the corporation, and if they believe that a decision of the GM is illegal or irresponsible or is not in the best interests of the Coop, they should not ratify it.

The Coordinators have a dual role at the GM; they are required as officers of the corporation to report to the directors and they have a duty to present accurate information. They are also members and have the right to make their personal views known to the GM.

The Coop’s bylaws, in accordance with the CCL, also require it to have an annual meeting of the membership. This is the same thing as the annual meeting of the shareholders of a corporation. The bylaws provide that a quorum for such “meetings of the membership” shall be 100 members. The GM is not, and was never intended to be, a formal “meeting of the membership”; the only “meeting of the membership” regularly held by the Coop is the Annual Meeting in June. The bylaws do not provide for any other meetings of the membership. It is possible to hold an additional (“special”) meeting of the membership, but the procedure under the law is cumbersome.

Original version written by John Sandercock
Published June 1995

The Agenda Committee

When setting agendas for General Meetings, the Agenda Committee’s main considerations are: (1) the best interests and orderly functioning of the Coop, and (2) fairness to Coop members who wish to have their concerns placed on the agenda. Accordingly, the Agenda Committee has developed the following set of guidelines:

  1. The Agenda Committee makes every effort to place items on the GM agenda in the order in which they are received. The goal of the committee is to place items on the GM agenda within three months of submission to the GM.
  2. An item may be placed ahead of others submitted earlier if the item requires more immediate attention or its timely consideration at the GM is beneficial to the efficient running of the Coop, e.g., election of members to Coop committees.
  3. If a Coop member submits more than one agenda item, that member shall choose one of the items to be considered for placement on the agenda. Other item(s) by that member may not be considered for placement on the GM agenda until the first item is completed.
  4. If an item is likely to require substantial discussion time, it may be held for a later GM to permit fuller discussion. If there is strong sentiment at a GM (or Special Meeting) for follow-up discussion of an item, the Agenda Committee will take into account the will of the GM in scheduling agenda items.
  5. Where an agenda item has been considered by a GM, a subsequent proposal seeking substantially the same outcome will not be considered for future placement on the GM agenda unless the AC determines that one of the following three criteria has been met:
    1) the substance of the item has changed;
    2) the presenter has identified new information (not presented at the prior GM) that might reasonably be expected to change the outcome of the proposal; or
    3) a sufficient period of time has passed that would warrant reconsideration by the GM.
  6. No item implicating a Coop committee will be placed on the GM agenda without giving the affected committee at least one month notice. That committee will be advised to discuss with the Chair Committee how it will be allowed to respond.

Brochures

(all are links to PDFs in a separate tab)

General Meeting Workslot Credit

Since the Coop’s inception in 1973, the General Meeting has been our decision-making body. At the General Meeting (GM) members gather to make decisions and set Coop policy. The General-Meeting-for-workslot-credit program was created to increase participation in the Coop’s decision-making process.

Advance Sign-up Required: To be eligible for workslot credit, you must sign yourself up in advance of the meeting in one of the following three ways: use our online form, use the computer in the ground floor elevator lobby to sign-up or call the Membership Office. Sign-up for any given meeting will be available from the beginning of the month until 5 p.m. on the day of the General Meeting (generally the last Tuesday of the month).

Two GM attendance credits per year: Each member may take advantage of the General-Meeting-for-workslot-credit program two times per calendar year.

Certain Squads are omitted from the Program: You may attend the GM for credit only if you are a member of a Shopping, Receiving/Stocking, Food Processing, Office, Maintenance, Inventory  and FTOP committee. If you are a member of another Squad, you must speak to your staff supervisor before attending a GM for credit. Members of Squads where attendance at the GM is already part of the workslot’s responsibility may never get double credit for attending a GM.

Attend the entire GM: In order to earn workslot credit you must be present for the entire meeting. GMs typically run from 7:00 p.m. – 9:45 p.m., though they occasionally run longer.

Signing in at the Meeting for Workslot Credit: At the end of the GM, the Chair or GM Set-up Committee will set out the workslot credit attendance sheets. In order to get credit, you must sign in next to your name.

Being Absent from the GM: There is no penalty if you sign-up for the meeting and then cannot attend. We do ask that you try to keep the sign-up sheet current and remove your name if you know cannot attend. Please do not call the Membership Office with GM cancellations.

Childcare is NOT provided at the General Meeting location: Childcare is not currently provided at the General Meeting. We discourage members from bringing young children to the meeting. In our experience children become restless during the two and a half hour meeting. If your child does get bored and becomes disruptive you may be asked to leave the meeting.

Consider making a report to your squad after you attend the meeting: You can help inform other members about current Coop issues, the GM in general and the GM-for-credit program in particular by making a brief report about your GM experience. You can make this report the next time you meet with your squad or, if you are on FTOP, the next time you work on any Squad. Generally these reports work best as part of a squad end-of-shift meeting.

HOW WORKSLOT CREDIT IS APPLIED

If you are on an ABCorD shift and are “ACTIVE” for work on the night of the meeting: You will be given an FTOP credit for attendance at the meeting. You are not required to use this credit at a particular time. However, to use this credit you must accrue two (2) FTOP shifts and follow the Coop’s other rules for using banked FTOP time that are explained in a flier (How It Works-Banking FTOP) available in elevator lobby literature racks and in the Membership Office.

If you are on an ABCorD shift and owe a make-up on the night of the meeting : The GM attendance credit will automatically be applied as a make-up.

If you are on FTOP: Recording of your attendance at the meeting and an FTOP shift credit will be applied to your FTOP record after you have attended the meeting.

 

General Meeting

The Coop’s monthly General Meeting (GM) has been the decision-making body of the Coop since the Coop began in 1973. A current General Meeting agenda is posted inside the Coop in advance of every meeting generally three weeks ahead of time. GM Agendas are also published in the Linewaiters’ Gazette and here as well.

General Meetings are generally held on the last Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m.  The meetings are chaired by members whose workslot is the Chair Committee. Check the GM Agenda for the exact date.

Everyone who attends a meeting has a vote, and any member can bring an agenda item to a GM by completing a GM Item Submission Form (also available on the bulletin board in the Coop’s entrance lobby), after reading How to Develop and Agenda Item for the General Meeting. We encourage all members to participate in the General Meetings. To attend, simply show up at the meeting.

In 1977, when the Coop was incorporated, we were legally required to have a Board of Directors. However, our Board’s role doesn’t overshadow or replace the member initiative, discussion and decision-making that is the purpose of the GM. Board members are elected for terms of three years on a rotating basis once a year at our Annual Meeting, which is held in June. Members can vote for Board of Directors in one of two ways: in person at the Annual Meeting in June or by using an advance ballot that all members receive by mail.

Every Coop member can receive workslot credit twice a year for attending a GM. In addition to being available on our site, instructions for receiving credit are printed in every issue of the Linewaiters’ Gazette.

Our General Meeting agendas are compiled and finalized — using agenda items submitted by members — by members whose workslot is the Agenda Committee.

Childcare

The Coop provides free childcare to children of Coop members while their parent/guardian/babysitter is working and/or shopping at the Coop. Our childcare space is limited to 12 children when all three childcare workers are present, and to 10 children when only two childcare workers are present, so we cannot guarantee there will always be space available. If you require guaranteed childcare for your children while you are working and/or shopping your may want to make other arrangements. Feel free to read the PSFC Childcare Room Rules that govern expectations for workers, guardians and children using the Childcare room.

  • Childcare is a service that we provide only to Coop members
  • Children can be in childcare for a maximum of four hours at a time.
  • Members may not drop off more than two children at a time.
  • We cannot provide childcare for children over the age of twelve.
  • The child’s parent/guardian/babysitter MUST be in the building at all times while the child is in childcare. Because of the nature of the service, due to insurance considerations, and because it is the law, this is an absolute hard and fast rule. Breaking this rule by leaving the Coop while a child under your care is in the childcare room is grounds for expulsion from the Coop.

How Childcare Works

Where Childcare is:
Childcare is located in the second floor of the Coop, next door to the Coop Membership Office. There is an elevator for easy access.

Signing the Child into Childcare:
In order to leave your children in Childcare, you must show one of the following to the Childcare workers:

  • A Park Slope Food Coop Membership Card
  • Your name on the “New Member List” and a photo ID
  • A bar-coded slip from the entrance desk from that day and a photo ID

Picking up your Child:
Tell a Childcare worker you have come to pick up your child, and show them one of the following:

  • A Park Slope Food Coop Membership Card
  • Your name on the “List of People Who Can Shop Without a Card” and a photo ID
  • A bar-coded slip from the entrance desk from that day and a photo ID

Food:
The Coop provides bagels and bottled spring water for the children, nothing else. Parent/guardians/babysitters who do not want their children to have bagels must inform the childcare workers. Children may come with an alternative non-messy snack, but full meals should not be eaten in childcare.

Safety:
If your child is particularly active or has a tendency to put things in his/her mouth, tell the childcare workers. Crawlers should dress appropriately. There is no rug. The wearing of shoes will be at the discretion of each family. During sign-in parents should let the Childcare workers know whether or not a child?s shoes may be taken off.

Time Limits:
Four hours is the maximum time any child may use childcare on any given day. This gives you time to work a shift and then shop. It does not allow for you to do a shift plus a make-up while your child is in childcare, so if you do need to do a make-up and if you need your child in childcare during that time, do not plan to work two consecutive shifts. We are not set up for childcare for longer periods of time.

Illness:
A sick child cannot be left in childcare. A child who is sneezing and/or coughing and/or has a runny nose will be sent back to their parent.

Childcare as a Workslot:
Members working in the childcare room must be at least 18 years old, and have completed the Coop’s childcare training. Children who have grown up in Coop households may work in Childcare only after they have joined the Coop as members in their own right. Childcare workers can access the PSFC Childcare Worker Training Manual — that all member childcare workers receive at their training. Paper copes of the training manual are also available in the Childcare room.

Feedback for the Coop:
If you have any ideas for improving childcare, please feel free to use the Childcare Feedback Book, or you may call the Childcare Coordinators. Their phone numbers are listed on the flyers available in the Childcare area.

How to Change Workslots

If the workslot that you have currently no longer works for you because of scheduling conflicts or for other reasons all you need to do to change it is contact the Membership Office and say I’d like to change my workslot. Please have your calendar at hand when you contact the Office. One of the first questions the office will ask is, “When are you available to work?”

There are some things to bear in mind when considering a change in your workslot:

  • Please give the Coop as much notice as you can. When you change your workslot the day before it is scheduled to meet, the chances are slim that we will be able to fill your spot. This will leave your squad short-staffed.
  • Knowing that you are going to miss your workslot one time is not a good reason to change workslot for good. In a case like that the Coop asks you to try to find someone to swap shifts with you.
  • Your availability will be the biggest determining factor in what workslots you may choose from. Tell us when you are available to work and then we will tell you what openings the Coop has at that time of the week or day.
  • If your first choice workslot is not available, you can ask to be put on the waiting list for that squad. If you are on the waiting list for a particular squad/day/time or type of work, the Coop will contact you when a spot opens up. You will have six days to respond and accept the opening. Generally people come off the waiting list onto the squad they desire within 4 – 8 weeks. You will need to continue working while you are on the waiting list either on your old squad or on “interim” second choice squad that you have selected with the help of the Office. Interim squads should never be those that require special training by staff.
  • If there is a more than six week gap between scheduled work dates on your old and new squads you will be asked to do one make-up to cover the “cycle” during which you did not work.

Literature Rack

Browse PDF versions of our most commonly requested informational fliers. You might just save yourself a call to the Membership Office..your question is likely answered in one of the documents below. These fliers are all also available in the literature racks in the ground floor elevator lobby and in the Membership Office.

The Basics

The FTOP Program

What to do When You Think There’s Nothing to do

Working on Receiving and Stocking

The Outside Workslots: Cart and Curb Assistance

Miscellaneous (Yet Important) Coop Info

Membership Manual

The Coop’s Manual of Membership is a useful tool for understanding the
finer points of Coop membership and for answering your own questions about pressing issues like attendance, swapping shifts, shopping hours, the General Meeting, and how to do your make-ups. Refer to this manual before contacting the office and you might find you don’t need to bother with the phone or with a visit after all. Informed Coop members are powerful Coop members!

The Membership Manual is available here in pdf format only.

PSFC Membership Manual [PDF 1.8MB]

(You can get Adobe Reader here)

If, after looking at the Membership Manual, you still want to contact the Membership Office please feel free to get in touch in person or by phone.

Member FAQs

The Coop’s Membership Office, staffed by a combination of paid Coop staff coordinators and member workers, can answer your Coop and Membership related questions, take photos for Coop Membership Cards, and assist prospective members with the joining process.

The Membership Office is located on the second floor of the Coop. Reach us in person or by phone at 718-622-0560 during office hours.

The information on this page could help you to answer some of the most commonly asked questions on your own.

Q: What week is this? or Am I supposed to work tonight?

Look at home page, or look at the two-year Coop Rotation Calendar, which is also available in paper format from the racks opposite entrance desk in the Coop. You need to know your work assignment to use these tools. If you know only your committee (Shopping, Receiving, Food Processing, for example) you can use the Committee Schedules, available from the racks opposite entrance desk in the Coop, to find your workslot and next several work dates. Get in the habit of picking up a current Committee Scheduled when you’re in the Coop as they cover only four to five work cycles.

If you do not know your work assignment, you will need to contact the Membership Office for assistance.

Q: I’m suspended. I don’t know why.

The reason(s) you are “Suspended” will be displayed on the entrance desk computer screen when you enter the Coop. Ask the entrance worker to read the information to you, or ask to read the information yourself. If your housemates are “Alert”or “Suspended” the entrance worker can give information about their status as well. Remember, work is not the only reason that a member might be on “Alert” or “Suspended”. If you have questions, please contact the Membership Office for assistance.

Q: I can’t make my next workslot

If you know in advance that you have to miss a shift, we strongly encourage you to try to find someone to cover by scheduling a shift swap. Swapping, or Trading, is the only way to avoid having to do make-ups, and it helps the Coop by ensuring that enough members show up for work. If you have a workslot that requires special training, such as Cashier or Childcare, it is essential that you trade with someone who also has that training.

If you have tried unsuccessfully to find a trade, please let your Squad Leader or staff supervisor know that you attempted to arrange coverage for yourself. Remember, though, that calling in advance of an absence is not a guarantee that you will get only one make-up. This decision is made on a Squad-by-Squad basis.

Leaves of absence are available if you will be gone from the Coop for at least eight weeks. Please contact the Membership Office with as much advance notice as possible. The more notice we have the greater the chance that we will be able to fill the opening with another worker.

Q: How (or when) can I do a make-up?

If you’ve missed a shift and owe make-ups, you should attempt to do the make-ups before your next scheduled workslot. In general, make-ups can be done on any Committee and do not require scheduling in advance. Please review the important exceptions before coming in to do a make-up.

Show up at the start of a scheduled shift and you will be guaranteed a make-up spot somewhere in the building. While showing up on time does guarantee that you can do a make-up, it will not necessarily be on your regular Committee members of regular squads get priority and you will be assigned to the Squad most in need of assistance. Let the Squad Leader know you are there to do a make-up, sign into the attendance book and work. If you show up late to do a make-up, the Squad Leader has the right to turn you away. Check the Committee & Squad Times page for important details about how, where and when to do a make-up.

Most make-ups do not have to be scheduled in advance. The exceptions are Cashiers or Childcare workers: If a Cashier or Childcare worker wants to do make-ups in their normal positions they must sign up in advance through the Membership Office.

Q: Why am I suspended if I only owe one make-up? But I did all my make-ups!

You have owed the make-up for more than four weeks. Being “Suspended” has nothing to do with how many make-ups you owe, but with how long you’ve owed them. Anytime you owe any number of make-ups for longer than four weeks you will get “Suspended” for work unless you request an extension. Whether you need more time to do your make-ups or dispute the number of make-ups you owe, you can request the extension (an action that puts you back onto “Alert” until your next scheduled workslot) from your Squad Leader and/or the Membership Office to restore your shopping privileges.

You were given two make-ups for your absence. Remember the double make-up rule! The Coop’s policy is that if you are absent from your Squad you will get two make-ups. However, individual Squads can make exceptions to this policy and assign only one make-up for an absence. If you don’t know what your Squad’s policy is, inquire at your Squad’s next meeting. If your Squad doesn’t have a policy, request a Squad Meeting at the end of your next shift so that your Squad can set one. And, worry not, adjustments can be made retroactively by your Squad Leader.

Please be aware that calling in advance is not a guarantee of one-make for an absence. If your squad leader agrees to one make-up but forgets to note that fact in the attendance book, you will automatically be assigned two make-ups by the Coop’s attendance workers. (Again, your Squad Leader can make a correction after the fact.) In this case, it is recommended that you attempt to do the number of make-ups you think you owe by the next meeting of your Squad, and then discuss your concerns and/or ask for adjustments of your Squad Leader in person.

You forgot to sign the attendance book when you worked and got marked absent or an error was made that needs to be adjusted. If you forgot to sign in and were marked absent request an extension from the Membership Office and discuss the issue with your Squad Leader the next time your Squad meets. If you think the error originated in the Office (a data entry error for example) contact the Office directly.

All notes from your Squad Leader must be written in the “Squad Leader’s notes to the attendance workers” section of your Squad’s attendance page. Notes must be specific, clearly stating the problem and the request. If there are dates, please include those. (For example, “Please record that Ms. Minneola Tangelo was present during our squad’s meeting two months ago on 2/15/04. She forgot to sign in and was marked absent, but she was here.)

Your make-ups have not been recorded yet. Make-ups should be recorded one to two days after they are done. For example, if you do a make-up on Monday, it should be written onto your card on Tuesday or Wednesday. The data entry necessary to change your status, if that is warranted, will be done after 5 p.m. on the day your make-up was recorded. Due to the absence of workers who do the make-up recording, it came sometimes take an additional day or two. If make-ups that you have done were not recorded, please have the dates of those make-ups available when you contact the Membership Office to investigate.

Q: How do I make my member payments?

See Member payments. If you plan to pay by debit card at the Checkout, tell the checkout worker about your payment before the transaction is completed. If you pay at the cashier, tell the cashier about your payment after they resume your transaction. Please do not send any payments to the Coop (or try to pay in the office). You need to be prepared to tell the checkout worker/cashier what you are paying and for whom (e.g., fee for you, member investment for spouse). If you are paying for another member, have that person’s member number available. You can pay fees and member investments with a personal check. And, save your receipt! If you need to call about a payment discrepancy, please have your receipt handy.

Q: But I’ve paid my member payments, why am I on “Alert” or “Suspended” for fees?

Remember, there are several types of member payments, and the possibility for payment plans. If you are on a payment plan you will go on “Alert” (for Fee or Investment) every month when the next installment is due, unless you are paid in advance. Other charges you might incur include a $3.50 “card” charge for replacing your membership card and a $15 “bank” charge if you bounce a check.

Q: How do I let you know that I’ve changed my address and/or phone number?

Ask the entrance worker to record it in the “Changes” book at the entrance desk or contact the Membership Office.

Q: How do I place a classified ad in the Gazette? When is the next deadline?

There are forms available on the wall by the exit door and in every issue of the Gazette. Follow the instructions on the form. The deadlines and publication dates are posted where forms are distributed and are listed in every Gazette. The Gazette comes out every two weeks; the deadline for classified submissions is eight days prior to the issue date.

The current charge for ads in the Gazette is $10 per ad, per issue for classified ads (non-commercial merchandise ads are free); $20 for camera-ready business card-size ads. There is a maximum of 315 characters (including spaces). The Coop cannot give credit or refunds unless we have mistyped your phone number.

The Gazette is produced by members doing workslots. If there was a misprint or other problem with a classified ad, place a copy of the ad with a note of explanation in the same pocket where you placed your ad originally. You cannot contact the Gazette Committee by calling the office.

Q: How much is…? Do we have…?

We request that members do not call to pre-check the availability or prices of the items on their shopping lists. We simply cannot respond to these queries for all of our approximately 16,700 members.

Q: I saw this great product when I was in Ohio. Can we get it?

Please note all new item requests in the Product Suggestion Book located at entrance desk. The more detailed you can be the easier it will be for us to check if we can get the product. Note that this book is read, but the Coordinators cannot always respond directly to all entries. And, when they do respond it can take several weeks. So, check back to your entry after several weeks to see if you got a response. There are many considerations that go into whether we can carry a product so please do not expect to see your suggestions on the shelf right away.

Q: “When does the store open? or on holidays? Is the Coop open today?

The Coop is open 364 days a year. Shopping hours are listed in every Gazette and a flyer with all the Coop’s hours (Shopping, Office and Childcare) is available in various places in the Building. This flyer would post nicely on your refrigerator!

On and immediately around four holidays during the year (New Year’s Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas) the Coop may have special shopping hours. Please check the Linewaiter’s Gazette and the signs posted around the Coop in the weeks leading up to those four holidays for special holiday hours. Any member who has a workslot that is affected by holiday hours will receive a letter in advance of the affected work date.

Q: For the times when you DO need to contact the office

There are times when contacting the Membership Office is necessary. Feel free to drop in or call during our office hours if you have questions or need information. You will need to contact the office if you lost your membership card, choose to request an extended member payment option, want to change your squad, want to go on leave or leave the Coop permanently, etc.

When you contact the office with discrepancies, please have specific dates or receipts at hand whenever possible. The more information you can provide the office, the more chance that we can quickly and accurately answer your questions. Please be patient! The person you are talking to is a Coop member, just like you, doing their workslot. They may or may not be experienced, but they will do the best they can to help you.