Rob Baran or Robber Baron? (part 1.)


 Part 1.   Part 2.

Update: Reader, Withold Birquest, points out that:

P.S. The Rochdale folks may have not mentioned labor explicitly because they thought true co-ops would be formed by working class people in the face of the company store, not by Deadhead yuppie opportunists, looking to pull-in 60K/yr. as managers. Was told Rochdalers were blacklisted striking workers.

In a move sure to please the board and management of the East End Food “Co-op”, the anti-abortion wing of the US senate filibustered the Employee Free Choice Act. The anti-gun wing was unable to garner the required 60 votes to end debate on the bill, where it would have been vetoed by “The Decider”. Say what you will about Bush and the Republicans, but they do push the theocratic agenda, shakin’ it for the glassy eyed, snake-handling dollar. Nor do they ever forget the exalted shareholders, even when it pisses off the small money. They’re like bleu cheese: I wouldn’t eat it, because it’s mold, but I respect that it never pretends to be anything but. The self-described “co-op” is more like sweetbreads; named like a dessert, but its just veal brains.

One thing I like about the Democrats, though, is their insistence on symbolic investigations of Bush and the GOP. If they’re investigating, they aren’t making new laws, and that can’t be bad. If there’s one thing we have and abundance of, it’s engineered violence, for the benefit of a few laws The Democrats just take the union dues and run (campaigns and commercials way less entertaining than the Republican ones) but they never forget the exalted shareholders. It’s like giving cash to a junkie, to go pay your light bill for you, because “they weren’t always that way”. The shareholders are fine with the business unions, since they manage revolt by clearly pointing out to the worker that they are only entitled to a little bit, and they should be happy with that.

These are interesting times, indeed. The big, bad local corporation allows workers to organize, but the local, greenwashed, would-be corporation, resorts to every dirty trick short of busting heads with ax handles (a fact which the grad students who organize blue collar workers for the SEIU are obsessed with). In the self-described “co-op’s” defense, the 19th century English weavers, who drafted the Rochdale Principles, which remain the seven commandments of co-ops with some semantic changes, to this day.and made no mention of labor, only cash and prizes.

Is it me, or are these kinds of self-described “co-ops” just tiny scale models of corporations that go public right away? Given the liberal love of law and order and their esteemed practice of purchasing 21st century indulgences to absolve them of their guilt, in the form of marketing gimmicks with names such as: fair-trade, organic, and then there’s literal plenary plastic indulgence cards in the form of carbon offsets, it’s a short walk to convince the shareholders members that the employees are probably already over rewarded for their efforts. These folks are fine with shitting on the people who sell them their coffee, the ones who they can see, so long as they get an extra penny a pound or whatever for the romantic, exotic coffee farmer, who they will never meet.

The self-described “co-op’s” chicanery continues, only this time, Rob Baran, would-be CEO, makes one of his stupidest, most intelligence insulting statements to the press that I am aware of:

But, says Baran, the money it will take to replace the windows means less funds for profit-sharing with employees, so if the damage was meant as solidarity with workers, it backfired.

Maybe I’m an idiot, exactly the kind that Baran seems to think everyone else is, but isn’t that why businesses carry insurance policies? Isn’t there some kind of law regarding double-dipping of insurance monies?

Apparently, Baran realizes the stupidity of his statement, as he spins the penny ante corporate looting of the employee profit sharing, but still can’t justify further ripping off the self-described “co-op’s” employees, to pay for damages that will be covered by insurance. Rob, did you check with your union busting consultants from Braun? Has Braun Consulting convinced you that bathroom breaks are “time wasting activity” or have you taken any of their advice on feeling better about firings?

If you’re a member of the self-described “co-op”, or just the type who believes that you have powers as a consumer, contact the self-described “co-op” (412-242-3598) and ask them about Baran’s latest scheme to rip off workers. If you know any of the board members ask them why this is acceptable, especially the radicals/anarchists among them.

Or just steal something, for crying out loud.



  1. I wouldn’t waste time contacting the Board. Their advisor Goehring is a co-op union-buster from Vermont, ya know. I wonder if there’s any relation to …

  2. P.S. The Rochdale folks may have not mentioned labor explicitly because they thought true co-ops would be formed by working class people in the face of the company store, not by Deadhead yuppie opportunists, looking to pull-in 60K/yr. as managers. Was told Rochdalers were blacklisted striking workers.

  3. Remember that famous graffiti from the Seattle protest eight years ago:

    “We Are Winning.”

    Probably not because most of you were still playing with Power Rangers.

    Well, I believed it. I thought that the thousands of anarchists nationwide could tear down society and change it. Then I opened eyes to the real world.

    Pop that anarchy bubble and take a breath of reality. It isn’t awesome, but you’ll stop wasting your time tossing bricks, writing communiques, and bitching about every possible unjust thing in the world.

    It isn’t a game. You’re not winning or losing. You are just kinda there and the average person doesn’t even acknowledge that you exist. You can have your beliefs and that is great, but you don’t have to try and force them down people’s throats and act like the vanguard for those poor people that can’t fend for themselves. Just try living in your anarchist fantasy land without disturbing the rest of us. I’m sorry that you were picked on in junior high, but Dungeons and Dragons role players seem to live their fantasy lives without bothering the real world. Maybe this way you’ll have enough time to take a shower instead of annoying people.

  4. By “Real World” do you mean the MTV show, or do you mean doing what Doctor Daddy wanted, little one?
    Your tale isn’t unique, though. Think of all the self-described “60’s radicals” who eventually quit slumming, and returned to their positions of privilege and wealth. It’s interesting too, that since you had a flirtation with radical politics, which you “outgrew”, you assume anyone who wants abetter world for themselves and their children is just someone else briefly playacting at being a “rebel” like you did, before taking over the family business or spending mommy and daddy’s money on an urban gallery for your art hobby.
    Thanks for dropping by and giving the generic “fortunate son or daughter” paragraph, though. I thought I’d have to wait until tomorrow to hear Sean Hannity.

  5. “Your tale isn’t unique, though. Think of all the self-described “60’s radicals” who eventually quit slumming, and returned to their positions of privilege and wealth.”

    I find it important to point out to you that you can never leave your position of privilege in our society. You can shun it, you can decry it, you can even disown the people who handed it down to you, but it is always there, defacto. The only thing you CAN do is to try and undermine the system that enables it.

  6. blacklines, right you are. thanks for tightening up my lazy use of the language and keeping me honest.

  7. Do I get a photo credit for that sharp shot of shocking graffiti?

  8. If you want a photo credit, ’tis yours. Just email the name you want it credited to, no questions asked.

  9. I must say that I sympathize with ‘real world’ a little.

    I don’t understand this knee jerk gerneralizing reaction to their post. What was said seems to me no different then when conservatives generalize about yinz guys. I mean unless you really know this person, what good is it to assume they come from a position of ‘wealth and power’? Why not talk about what they said, not what you speculate their background to be?

    As for myself, when I decided not to support these activities anylonger, I simply sat down and asked myself what I valued more: Freedom or equality. Is freedom the same as equality. I decided for freedom.

    I thought I’d have to wait till 3 to hear Hannity. As it turns out, I can just look to the comments on this fine blog.


  10. C,

    They came along and made their unfounded accusations, and I responded in kind, with unfounded accustaions. I’m not looking to change their mind, or win their approval.
    There’s no bonus for being the anonymous ‘better person’ on the internet.
    I agree with you that activism as it stands, is a waste of time, but that’s not the only option.
    Hannity’s on Saturdays?

  11. I see, I see. But really? To stoop to their level? There IS no bonus, true enough, but isn’t the bonus in your heart? Or is it just me?

    Just because your dealing with an asshole doesn’t mean you need to tape asscheeks to your head, ya know? I don’t agree with everything they said, but I do sympathize generally.

    That being said, I forgot it is saturday.

  12. Grow up kidies. You mongrel dog is hungry, really. Whatta bunch of know it all jerks…

  13. I used to work there and I just love East End Food Co op. The place has definitely got soul, awesome folks at Co op


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