• Competent adults must not be allowed to make decisions such as whether to volunteer their time, talents and labor. We must have law and order. After the food co-ops are put under the heel (it’s for their own good, even if it puts them out of business), DOL can move against Habitat for the Humanities. Can’t have unpaid volunteers renovating houses for poor people. They must pay Union scale.

  • Buried lede:

    Former Honest Weight President Bill Frye, though, argues the real issue is a lack of efficiency among volunteer members…“We would like to get the member workers off the floor of the store. It’s very expensive,” Frye told the Times Union. “They are really not as a effective and efficient. They almost have to be retrained every time they come into the store. They also like to chat.”

    Ho, ho, ho. Government interference is *a* reason, not *the* reason. And speaking as someone who has experience with “volunteer” labor in a retail environment, good riddance to volunteer labor.

  • “Government interference is *a* reason, not *the* reason.”

    Well, sure. Co-ops vary a lot in their practice, and the changes from Washington, D.C. on volunteers will be a serious trip-up to some, a less important problem to others, and not a problem at all to yet others. That’s why the original post was phrased “many” rather than “all.”

  • For several decades I have been both a volunteer staff member and at times an officer in the governing body of a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose activities are highly regulated (but not food distribution as with these co-ops). No member of the organization, including the CEO, is paid. Period. Paragraph. No exceptions.

    One thing I’ve noticed about these attempts by “volunteers” to require wages is that those who attempt them are often bereft of the slightest clue about both business organization law, and regulatory law of the particular activities the organization engages.

    Their primary line of reasoning seems to be, “I do work. Therefore I should be paid.”

    In my experience, careful structuring of the organization, and careful training of volunteers prior to granting membership, are key to preventing such takeover attempts. For example: make sure that nobody who is a member of the organization is paid by the organization. No exceptions.

    Make sure that every volunteer member knows from day one that he will never be paid for any work if he is a member of the organization, and that he can only be paid for work if he is not a member of the organization (and therefore loses the benefits that members enjoy). Make sure he signs a volunteer agreement.

    If some work is better done by paid personnel, then hire someone who is not a member of the organization to do that work.

    In the case of food co-ops, that might mean that if the food stores or distribution centers are better served by some paid clerks or managers, then hire only non-members to those paid positions. Those who are hired answer to the organization’s unpaid governing body or to its delegated unpaid volunteer managers.