Emergency meeting set for Citizens Co-op

Former employees and their supporters protest outside the Citizens Co-op grocery store Tuesday afternoon..

Anthony Clark/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, March 28, 2014 at 5:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 28, 2014 at 5:48 p.m.

Citizens Co-op members have called for an emergency meeting Sunday to discuss the future of the cooperatively owned grocery store and the situation that led to the firing of five employees on Monday.

Former board member Joni Ellis said there is a "strong group of us that want to call for a vote of no confidence" in the current board of directors and ask board members to resign.

The meeting starts at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Civic Media Center at 433 S. Main St., next to the store.

The co-op has about 1,800 members. The meeting was called by the co-op's membership outreach committee.

General Manager Lisa McNett emailed the employees early Monday morning to say they were being fired for theft and misuse of the company email database system and for their refusal to cooperate with an internal investigation about the incident.

The employees were among seven who had signed letters emailed to members on March 11 and 12 about their efforts to form a union.

The fired employees and their supporters have been protesting outside the store this week, joined by two more employees who said they were striking to show support.

Those involved say the employees clashed with McNett, who was hired by the board in February to improve customer service and control costs since the co-op has operated in the red since its opening in July 2011.

Seven employees decided to form a union after a Feb. 18 meeting with the board where they said the tone of the meeting left them feeling like they had no voice in the co-op, followed immediately by the firing of two employees.

A petition created Thursday at change.org calling for board members to resign had 42 supporters late Friday afternoon.

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