At the 11/15/12 NoBAWC general membership meeting, it was decided by consensus that, effective immediately, “NoBAWC withdraws from the Worker Cooperative Federal Credit Union’s field of membership and ends its formal relationship with the WCFCU.” The reasons for this decision are based on the WCFCU’s lack of democratic process & accountability, and the failure of the subscribers (the WCFCU’s current decision-making body) to make democratic reforms. For more information, contact NoBAWC staff person Dave Karoly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Dave Karoly
I am a subscriber for the WCFCU and also co-founder and a current staff person for NoBAWC. Several of the WCFCU organizers and three of the subscribers (Melissa Hoover, Tim Huet and myself) are also NoBAWC members. Actually, the number of NoBAWC members who are organizers/subscribers has dropped recently with Mike and Tim’s resignations. Given the fact that NoBAWC is one of the three organizations comprising the WCFCU’s field of membership and that I am currently a NoBAWC staff person, I feel I have a responsibility to both the WCFCU and NoBAWC. Although some of my co-subscribers may disagree and argue that my role as subscriber is that of an individual and should be distinct from my involvement in NoBAWC, I cannot disconnect my role as a subscriber from my role in NoBAWC. If NoBAWC was not part of the WCFCU field of membership, then I think that disconnect can be made. But, NoBAWC is part of the WCFCU field of membership and I therefore have a responsibility to both NoBAWC and the WCFCU.
How my responsibility to NoBAWC plays out is consistent with the culture of NoBAWC. As an organization, NoBAWC is participatory democratic and member-driven. The general direction of NoBAWC is determined at general membership meetings and individuals are given leeway to make decisions within the framework established by the membership. In terms of the WCFCU, the NoBAWC membership agreed to support the establishment of a financial institution serving the needs of worker cooperatives, to be part of the WCFCU field of membership, and to be active in the organizing and local fundraising for the WCFCU. As long as the WCFCU was on that trajectory, I felt empowered to make decisions as a subscriber toward that end without having to go back to NoBAWC for approval.
The recent subscriber vote to pursue a partnership with NCFCU and the process/fallout surrounding this decision are troubling. I abstained from the vote because I was beginning my recovery from surgery and was barely able to read peoples’ emails, much less give thought to the issues. In hindsight, I should have voted NO. I should have voted NO on the proposal not because of my opinion on whether or not partnering with the NCFCU is a sound plan (which I’m not sure), but because this plan is a fundamental shift from the original path that NoBAWC members understood. The vote also said that the money NoBAWC helped raise would go toward the effort with NCFCU and vaguely put NoBAWC on the hook to help raise $50,000 by March 31, 2013. Also, the wording of the proposal stated that a YES vote would “effectively end” (not postpone) the chartering of a new WCFCU. This is a fundamental shift from what NoBAWC committed to, and in my opinion, requires a decision from the NoBAWC membership as to whether or not NoBAWC wants to continue being associated with the WCFCU in its current form.
NoBAWC had a general membership meeting (which occur about every 6 weeks) a few days ago on 7/31/12. At that meeting, we discussed the WCFCU/NCFCU in some detail. There were many questions and concerns about the process, resignations, the money NoBAWC helped raise locally, and if partnering with NCFCU is a good idea. What was decided by consensus at the NoBAWC general membership meeting was:
The NoBAWC membership shall make a decision at the next general membership meeting on 9/12/12 regarding its involvement in the WCFCU/NCFCU. NoBAWC staff shall compile an information packet because the membership needs more information in order to make a decision. Between now and 9/12/12, it shall not be assumed that NoBAWC supports the new direction of the WCFCU/NCFCU and NoBAWC’s name shall not be used in connection with this new direction.
The decision made at Tuesday’s NoBAWC general membership meeting is neither an acceptance nor a rejection of the WCFCU/NCFCU’s new direction. It simply gives NoBAWC time to decide if it wants to continue a relationship with a project that has fundamentally changed. I understand time was short, but as a point of process, I think the 3 organizations comprising the field of membership should have been consulted prior to the subscribers making a decision which fundamentally changed the direction of this project.
I will be responsible for compiling the information packet for the NoBAWC membership. I will make sure that the basics are covered and that, when there are differences of opinion, these differences are fairly articulated. I will make sure the subscribers/organizers are able to review a draft of the info packet before it goes to the NoBAWC membership in the hope that everyone will be okay with the text.