On Monday, June 30, 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that some family owned companies with religious objections may opt out of an Affordable Care Act requirement to pay for contraception coverage if the company chooses to offer employee health insurance. Michael Potter, CEO of Eden Foods, has been outspoken on this issue. Eden Foods objects to a provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires companies, if they choose to offer health insurance to their employees, to include coverage of a wide array of contraceptive choices. The company has a similar case, Eden Foods v. Burwell, pending in court.
Eden Foods’s view on this issue is fundamentally different from New Pioneer’s position as an employer – we do provide contraceptive coverage for our staff as part of our employee benefits package. In response to Eden’s position, we’ve received a lot of feedback from our owners. Some owners have asked that New Pi pull Eden Foods products from our shelves, while others have asked us to keep them.
The Co-op serves a large and diverse group of over 29,000 owners, with multiple points of view and opinions on all issues. As a cooperative, New Pi has a ballot mechanism in place for our owners to address product line issues in an open and democratic manner. New Pioneer Food Cooperative is not an outside third party – our owners own the Cooperative, democratically, with 29,000 of their neighbors.
From New Pioneer’s Bylaws:
4.7 Product line changes.
A petition for product line change requires the signatures of at least one hundred (100) members of the Cooperative and must be submitted at least 90 days prior to the date of the annual meeting. Upon receipt of any petition, the Secretary will verify the standing of all members signing the petition. If the petition contains the required number of signatures, the requested change will be announced in the [Catalyst] newsletter and put to a vote of the membership. Balloting may take place only once a year in combination with the annual Board election. To be successful, such product line votes require a simple majority of affirmative votes. Product line changes that result from this procedure shall be in effect until they are rescinded by another vote.
The deadline for product line petitions to be submitted for the 2014 ballot is July 28th. Please include owner numbers on any petition submitted so that the Board Secretary can verify that the signers are paid-in-full owners.
Update: a petition was submitted and the item appears in the 2014 Ballot.
Update 10/26/14: The petition to remove Eden Foods products from New Pi stores was successful. This “Yes” vote directs us to discontinue Eden Foods products and communicate to Eden Foods "expressing our disproval of their policies towards women’s health." (Wording inside quotes directly from the petition.)