No Member Worker Program at the Co-op — Why Not?

Q: Why don’t we have a member worker program like other co-ops?

A:  Some food co-op’s offer a “working member” program, where individuals volunteer to receive discounts on their co-op purchases.  While there are pluses and minuses to this type of program, generally the national trend and recommendation is to avoid this program.  Our co-op chose not to implement a discount program for the following reasons:

  • Our Co-op is committed to providing fair wages and good benefits to our employees.  Member worker programs often do not pay a minimum wage (in the form of a discount) for the work provided.  Not only does this not fit within our values, it’s against the law and some Co-ops have been fined for violations by the Department of Labor.
  • Many stores have found it very difficult to keep volunteers up-to-date on the co-op’s current rules,  regulations and policies, as well as sufficiently trained on giving great customer service, when they only work 1 or 2 hours a week or month.
  • We would have to cover volunteers under our workers compensation insurance, which can be very difficult if not impossible to do.

Read more at

Who’s Watching Member Labor in Retail Food Cooperatives?

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