Conflict over employee health care as co-op turns 40

By Justin Bell
Flapjack Chronicle

An underlying tension was in the air on Saturday at the North Coast Co-op’s 40th year celebration and membership meeting. Co-op members and employees adorned pins to their shirts in support of the Union. Currently there is conflict between the Union and the Co-op management over healthcare coverage. Management is trying to increase deductibles, copays and premiums as well as eliminating dental coverage.

Co-op employee Bodie Ragner, 23, doesn’t like the idea of the Co-op limiting the employee healthcare.

“I don’t think the Co-op should be decreasing our healthcare coverage,” Ragner said. “Healthcare is a great perk of working full time at the Co-op.”

Conflict aside, co-op members were greeted with a free buffet as well as beverages provided by Lost Coast Brewery, Mad River Brewery and Moonstone Crossing Winery.

A celebratory cake cutting occurred in honor of the Co-op turning 40. Numerous members shared their stories of the Co-op from years past. Humboldt Light Opera’s The Babes provided a special performance.

Co-op member Warren Smith, 24, said he enjoys seeing fellow members outside of shopping.

“It’s great to see a lot of the members together having a good time eating great food,” Smith said. “I like seeing them outside of the actual store.”

About an hour into the event, the annual membership meeting commenced. Three newly elected Board members were welcomed in, Steve Suttell, Jessica Unmack and Kelly Boehms. The Board president then gave a short speech thanking everyone for coming out. An open mic where members could address the board followed. A few members chose to voice their concerns about the state of the Co-op.

Board member and Co-op employee Kelly Boehms, 31, is excited to serve on the Board and hopes to serve the members well.

“I’ve really valued my time at the Co-op as an employee,” Boehms said. “I really can’t wait to work with the Board and really looking at the vision and the long term goals of the Co-op.”

In the final part of the evening, the lights dimmed down and music began to place by Cosmic Charlie. This gave time for members to socialize more and dance if they wanted.

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