V for Values, not Vendetta

I offer this in response to Josh Yazell's Jan. 5 letter, “Buchi Story More Vendetta than Journalism,” a response to David Forbes' article “Bottled in Bond” [Dec. 22 Xpress]. As Forbes responded to Yazell, claims presented to them by me were investigated and documented.

In interviews with Xpress, the Asheville Citizen-Times and [the radio program] Systemic Effect (MAIN-FM Dec. 26), I spoke highly of my former employers at Buchi. I have never said anything hateful or untrue about them. Having worked in several service-industry jobs in Asheville, and having witnessed and experienced termination and threats of termination similar to this many times, I feel such practices are embedded in our culture here, even as many profess to do the opposite. That was my motivation to bring this forward to the larger community. I want us to hold each other accountable to our own stated values.

Many in Asheville say that we want (or have) a different culture here — one where labels mean something and workers are treated justly, for example. I do not believe that two newspapers and a radio show would have covered this if they thought it was an isolated case. I feel that what happened with Buchi recently could have happened at any number of businesses at the moment. That is why it was important for us to look at it and talk about how we felt about it.

Is this what we want to be? Is what we are doing matching up with what we say that we do?

That is the question that ultimately caused all of this upheaval. Do we live up to our sticker here in Asheville? I hope that as the dust settles we will realize our culture has shifted enough that this question will not cause so much of an uproar in the future. Big change can be painful, and I believe this story has elicited passionate responses because it touches on the very foundation of our culture, underlying power dynamics and assumptions. Community accountability structures are emerging from this situation. Hopefully these are growing pains of a community that is learning to put integrity first, as the value we hold most dear. Without integrity, our other stated values hold no power.

There were discussions between Buchi employees and owners, and there were discussions between me (and others) and Just Economics about living-wage certification concerns. I did not go to the press until private constructive dialogue was curtailed by my being fired.

At that point, I wanted the larger community to get involved in the dialogue. Significant responses from both organizations have only happened in the wake of the Mountain Xpress article and Firestorm's “Open Letter to Buchi.” I hope it will not always take such measures for real change to come about.

Many positive transitions have resulted from the sharing of this story (at a great personal cost to me and others). The more we all take the risks to share our truths freely, the more our society here will truly reflect our stated values. If we begin to hold each other accountable to what we say we are, to what we say we are doing, we are going to see some beautiful changes in this town. I feel that accountability and forgiveness are some of the greatest gifts of community life. I hope we reach a resolution in the midst of this tumult that confirms what we truly want to be and directs us toward real healing so that we emerge a stronger and more authentic community.

I look forward to the day when the truth doesn't hurt so bad, when asking a question is not viewed as a threatening action, and sharing your story isn't viewed as an attack.

— Kila Donovan
Asheville

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47 thoughts on “V for Values, not Vendetta

  1. Libertie

    Keep your head up, Kila! In the words of poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, “a little integrity is better than any career.”

  2. “I look forward to the day when the truth doesn’t hurt so bad, when asking a question is not viewed as a threatening action, and sharing your story isn’t viewed as an attack.”

    I don’t think human nature is going to be relieved of the propensity you write so eloquently of, in the statement here. Still I hope it doesn’t stop you and other people from following their principles to do the right thing. Hard as that is in the face of outrageous slings and arrows from people who really have no idea what you’re up against.

  3. I appreciate your courage! I am happy you came and talked on my show, and I do sincerely hope that constructive healing comes out of all of this.

  4. NotBasheville

    Several people have proven that she was fired for other reasons, not making a phone call to living wage. Geri would have been fired too if Buchi were firing people who were whistlebolowers, but Geri still has her job. Why? My opinion is that it is obvious that Kila was fired for other reasons. Now, it seems that Kila is trying to paint herslef as a hero, but all she has done is tearing apart our community. Community members work together to solve problems and pick each other up, not put each other down in the press. These actions are clearly not those of a person creating community, but of one destroying it.

  5. Well written, Kila!
    I look forward to a day when society doesn’t just assume businesses need bosses.

  6. Kila

    @D.L.D.
    “I look forward to the day when the truth doesn’t hurt so bad, when asking a question is not viewed as a threatening action, and sharing your story isn’t viewed as an attack.”

    I don’t think human nature is going to be relieved of the propensity you write so eloquently of, in the statement here. Still I hope it doesn’t stop you and other people from following their principles to do the right thing. Hard as that is in the face of outrageous slings and arrows from people who really have no idea what you’re up against.”

    Thank you. I really do believe if enough of us decide to embrace integrity and transparency, accountability and freedom of speech as values worth promoting and defending, we will move closer to the day that I described. There are many organizations and individuals around here who already do. I am grateful for the individuals and organizations that stuck up for me by continuing to place the facts before the public in the midst of the slings and arrows. If we continue doing that for each other, and encourage each other to ‘do the right thing’ despite the risks, I feel we will see dramatic and positive change here. And it will become less risky over time if, as a community, we say that’s what we want and admire rather than something we feel threatened by.

  7. Kila

    @D.L.D.
    “I look forward to the day when the truth doesn’t hurt so bad, when asking a question is not viewed as a threatening action, and sharing your story isn’t viewed as an attack.”

    I don’t think human nature is going to be relieved of the propensity you write so eloquently of, in the statement here. Still I hope it doesn’t stop you and other people from following their principles to do the right thing. Hard as that is in the face of outrageous slings and arrows from people who really have no idea what you’re up against.”

    Thank you. I really do believe if enough of us decide to embrace integrity and transparency, accountability and freedom of speech as values worth promoting and defending, we will move closer to the day that I described. There are many organizations and individuals around here who already do. I am grateful for the individuals and organizations that stuck up for me by continuing to place the facts before the public in the midst of the slings and arrows. If we continue doing that for each other, and encourage each other to ‘do the right thing’ despite the risks, I feel we will see dramatic and positive change here. And it will become less risky over time if, as a community, we say that’s what we want and admire rather than something we feel threatened by.

  8. Margaret Williams

    Before the thread goes much further: Please keep your responses civil and on-topic.

  9. karinabird

    I listened to your interview and was impressed with your demeanor and respectful attitude. This letter further impresses me.

    The heart of the story got lost in all the back and forth of both sides. In the end no one presented any evidence to undermine the initial article. Me thinks a lot of folks protest too much.

  10. ” I feel we will see dramatic and positive change here. And it will become less risky over time if, as a community, we say that’s what we want and admire rather than something we feel threatened by.”

    Whistleblowing is not for the faint of heart. I’m well over two years into my own experience and I don’t see any change whatsoever in the blind mindset of the detractors. Human nature is very slow to change.

    However there is the phenomenon of the “hundreth monkey syndrome”….maybe it’ll happen here. I certainly have hopes.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hundredth_monkey_effect

  11. Kila

    @D.L.D.
    ” I feel we will see dramatic and positive change here. And it will become less risky over time if, as a community, we say that’s what we want and admire rather than something we feel threatened by.”

    Whistleblowing is not for the faint of heart. I’m well over two years into my own experience and I don’t see any change whatsoever in the blind mindset of the detractors. Human nature is very slow to change.

    However there is the phenomenon of the “hundreth monkey syndrome”….maybe it’ll happen here. I certainly have hopes.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hundredth_monkey_effect

    Great wikipedia link. I do feel reaching some sort of critical mass is crucial if we’re to stop living in fear. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_mass_(sociodynamics). There’s only one way to do that. More brave souls stepping forward and the rest of us supporting them as they do it. I must say I am a bit disappointed that this has not yet seemed to inspire many others to speak their truths. I have heard many things stated privately related to these issues that the community should really know about. It’s understandable given the personal attacks you open yourself up to, but if enough of us do it it will not be that way forever.

  12. Kila

    @NotBasheville
    “Several people have proven that she was fired for other reasons, not making a phone call to living wage. Geri would have been fired too if Buchi were firing people who were whistlebolowers, but Geri still has her job. Why? My opinion is that it is obvious that Kila was fired for other reasons. Now, it seems that Kila is trying to paint herslef as a hero, but all she has done is tearing apart our community. Community members work together to solve problems and pick each other up, not put each other down in the press. These actions are clearly not those of a person creating community, but of one destroying it.”

    @NotBasheville
    I will begin to spend the time to re-post the many printed and on-line peices of evidence to the contrary, beginning with a recent statement from Geri Littlejohn (whom you just mentioned continues to work at Buchi). This comment was posted on January 6th in response to Paige Foran’s letter to the editor last week entitled: “Buchi supports their employees in a number of ways”:

    When I read Paige’s comment online last week, I encouraged both Jeannine and Sarah to please take a moment right then to set the record straight on this matter, because I saw it as a powerful opportunity to acknowledge an uncomfortable truth and to make a statement about the steps that were being taken to make Buchi a better place to work through the exploration of the State of Grace Document.  I encouraged them to take that opportunity to thank Paige for her support, but to acknowledge that three of their employees had, in fact, submitted a letter to them expressing the personal hurt we felt at having a team member fired without warning, the sense of insecurity that this created for us, and the lowered morale that we had been experiencing at work because of the lack of clear communication.  They have not taken this opportunity, but I feel that it is essential to speak openly in the hopes that this will help to move us all closer to meaningful dialogue. 
    First, I personally want to take a moment and thank the Firestorm Collective for their open letter to Buchi.  It was the written assurance in the Buchi owner’s response that employees could speak freely that made me feel that I could finally communicate openly again with people who had been my friends before they were my employers about the many concerns that employees had about the manner in which Kila had been fired without prior communication and after receiving verbal assurances that “she was safe.” It was because of the assertion that we had freedom of assembly that three current employees finally felt secure enough to co-author a letter to Jeannine and Sarah.

    In this letter we asked the owners of Buchi to come to a positive resolution with Kila as this was seen as a necessary step in moving forward in restoring harmony in the workplace.  To us this resolution meant a formal apology to Kila, but we chose not to state this as a demand in the hope that they would understand and take this step on their own without delay.  I am hopeful that this will happen soon, as we believe in Sarah and Jeannine.

    I want to also thank Sarah and Jeannine for having been responsive to the concerns recently voiced by employees and to the criticism that has been directed towards them in the media. I know it cannot be easy to be juggling the demands of raising children and keeping up with a rapidly growing business and discovering in a very public way that essential things were overlooked in the process.  I am grateful that steps have been taken to transform contract laborers into employees.  I commend the decision to remove the Certification from the label for the reasons that were brought to your attention by Kila and myself.  And I thank you for taking my suggestion that you look into using the State of Grace document as a tool in the workplace and for distributing copies of the quick start guide to all current employees. 
    It has not been easy to watch how this has unfolded in the press and on-line.  It has not been easy to see accusations made by good people about good people.  It has not been easy to continue to work at Buchi while the reputations of people all around have been damaged.  I want to restate Kila’s question from her interview on Systemic Effect, “How did this happen?”  How did a legitimate question about certification standards lead us to this moment?  And what do we as a community want to take from this experience to create safer work-places, more transparancy and greater accountabilty?
    Geri Littlejohn

  13. Kila

    @NotBasheville continued:
    EliHScott pulled together a few peices of evidence on December 30th in an online comment in response to “Buchi owners response to Dec. 22 article”:

    Sarah Schomber states in Buchi’s response:

    “Xpress asked if Buchi’s parting with [Donovan] was because of Living
    Wage. We said no, but the entire article [seems to be based] on [the]
    belief that we are lying.”

    Perhaps that belief is based on the fact that Donovan’s account of the firing is validated by Vicki Meath’s voice mail printed in Forbes’ article:

    “I’m sorry about what happened to you. I wanted to reiterate that I didn’t use your name in anything, but I realize Buchi is a small company. I dealt with the situation as best I knew how … I wanted to apologize in any way, shape or form for any negative consequences.”

    Her account is also validated by a public statement by co-worker Geri Littlejohn read on Main-FM’s Systemic Effect radio interview and in comments made to Sandford’s Citizen-Times article (“Asheville’s living-wage effort questioned”) as “gratefulmama” which have now been claimed by Littlejohn and include:

    “…if there had been concerns over Kila then it would have been so much better for all us if they had been voiced, because she (and I) had no inkling … Being present at a conversation where her job security was ensured and then hearing from her that she was fired has strained my relationship with you, and this saddens me…”
    and
    “I could not, in good conscience, remain silent when it seems like Kila’s integrity is being questioned. She was ultimately fired because she asked a question of the Living Wage Campaign-that she had every right to ask … Kila is missed on the line.”

    Given that Donovan’s plausible narrative is backed by multiple third parties, it is difficult to find a reason to believe the story presented by a business whose integrity has so clearly been called into question by revelation of proven fallacies. They need to apologize if they want to regain trust from the community. Trashing the reputation of someone you have already fired unjustly in the middle of winter is not acceptable.

  14. butterbean

    There’s not really an organization that can advocate on behalf of, and organize workers in this town. If there were such an organization, more people might feel comfortable joining up and coming forward. As it is, it takes a brave person to be the isolated one who stands up.

    IWW chapter, anyone?

  15. John anderson

    I bought a buchi today and it had the JE sticker on it … Do the new bottle labels have it removed?

  16. Kila there are some good books on Amazon about the act of whistleblowing. Mostly relating to big corporations and government…but the same formulaic actions occur in a much smaller scale. It might be an interesting read for you. The books were amazinglyy on target for the precise behaviors I experienced….it was incredibly like a standard operating procedure recipe. Same things as I saw happened to you in this instance.

    So cowgirl up and forge ahead…it’s quite the learning experience.

  17. bill smith

    @Thad I look forward to a day when dogmatic young folks don’t just assume bosses are evil, monocled oppressors.

  18. bill smith

    [i]Community members work together to solve problems and pick each other up, not put each other down in the press. These actions are clearly not those of a person creating community, but of one destroying it.[/i]

    Agreed. If anything, the way this has been handled makes me very unlikely to support the particular establishment many of these folks appear to be ‘co-owners’ of.

    If burning bridges and fracturing community in the name of ego is what they want, then I see little reason to weather their fiery storm.

  19. Libertie

    “Community members work together to solve problems and pick each other up, not put each other down in the press. These actions are clearly not those of a person creating community, but of one destroying it.”

    @NotBasheville, Those are lofty words for an anonymous internet troll :)

    If your idea of “community” involves businesses that illegally mis-classify their workers, publicly misrepresent their wages and then act in retaliation against those that question them, I say a little destruction is in order. And dido for non-profits that act as their accomplices.

    As for me, my idea of “community” carries higher standards. And it remains to be seen whether or not the business in question will come clean and apologize for the mistakes that they’ve made.

    I certainly hope so, because I look forward to drinking my first Buchi, confident that our community has both the resilience and integrity to embrace accountability, even when it hurts.

  20. Kila there are some good books on Amazon about the act of whistleblowing.

    Or you can order them from Malaprops.

  21. Well good point Orbit…but Amazon has reviews…which should be taken into consideration when buying books. So to support local bookstores, read the reviews on Amazon and buy or order locally.

  22. Kila

    Thanks everyone for all the tips on whistleblowing books! Do any of them come with musical notation? Maybe what Asheville really needs is a whistleblowing marching band….

  23. bill smith

    [i]I look forward to a day when society doesn’t just assume businesses need bosses. [/i]

    But without bosses who would all the young folks project their authority/father issues onto?

  24. bill smith

    [i]Or you can order them from Malaprops.
    [i/]

    Aren’t they an evil, for-profit enterprises with BOSSES?

  25. Matt, there are wobblies, I’ve met a few, but no IWW chapters, according to their website. And I am a market anarchist. We’re okay with the IWW.

  26. tatuaje

    I’ve stayed out of this current mess because the original article seemed to be a prelude to something larger. I was waiting for more information that apparently is not forthcoming.

    And now people seem to be choosing sides without utilizing reason or logic.

    I originally took issue with Forbes’ article because he seemed to hinge the entire thing on one person’s conjecture. I figured that there must be more facts held in reserve and I would wait to be given the entire story before I made any sort of judgement.

    Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    Not that I don’t think Buchi hasn’t made mistakes. To the contrary, they seem to be quite forthcoming with the fact that they weren’t as diligent in their managerial duties as they should have been. But I fail to see the newsworthiness in that, especially since they had taken steps to remedy the situation before the article was ever written. If the Xpress has decided to report on every business owner in the area who isn’t flawless in their execution of vocational affairs, then I reckon we must bid a fond farewell to the arts & entertainment coverage that they have toiled at so valiantly.

    However, the crux of this whole story appears to be the allegation that Kila was fired from Buchi for questioning the validity of their living wage certification. Buchi vehemently denies that this was the reason for letting Kila go. In fact they have said that they haven’t given out the real reasons for firing Donovan because they fear hurting her and in the process opening themselves up to lawsuits. Therefore this whole story boils down to a ‘they said/she said’ type of ordeal.

    Kila backs up her charges thusly:

    From a voicemail left for her from Just Economics

    “I’m sorry about what happened to you. I wanted to reiterate that I didn’t use your name in anything, but I realize Buchi is a small company. I dealt with the situation as best I knew how … I wanted to apologize in any way, shape or form for any negative consequences.”

    This in no way lends credence to Kila’s accusations. Just Economics apologizing for consequences they deem possible DOES NOT mean that those consequences did indeed occur. Unless Buchi told Just Economics that they fired Kila for the reason that she states, her reasoning is invalid and purely conjecture.

    From her co-worker Geri Littlejohn

    “…if there had been concerns over Kila then it would have been so much better for all us if they had been voiced, because she (and I) had no inkling … Being present at a conversation where her job security was ensured and then hearing from her that she was fired has strained my relationship with you, and this saddens me…”

    Was Geri present during the firing? Was Geri present during the deliberations that led to the firing? If not, then it is merely Geri’s assumption that Kila was fired for asking questions.

    and

    “I could not, in good conscience, remain silent when it seems like Kila’s integrity is being questioned. She was ultimately fired because she asked a question of the Living Wage Campaign-that she had every right to ask … Kila is missed on the line.”

    Again, this is purely conjecture on Geri’s part. Unless she can offer proof that Kila was fired for her questions than she is dealing in nothing but speculation.

    Kila goes on to surmise…

    Given that Donovan’s plausible narrative is backed by multiple third parties, it is difficult to find a reason to believe the story presented by a business whose integrity has so clearly been called into question by revelation of proven fallacies.

    If you will show proof, then I will support you.

    Unfortunately, so far you have offered nothing but conjecture. That ‘plausible narrative backed by multiple third parties’ is just that…plausible. Nothing more. Not ‘definitive’ nor ‘conclusive’ nor ‘unqualified’, merely ‘plausible’. I think that I have adequately shown that the third party backing that you tout is nothing but speculation. And I can’t, for the life of me, find ANY instance where Buchi’s integrity has been called into question by anything other than your accusations.

    And let me make this very clear. I am not friends with the owners of Buchi, nor am I a regular customer. In fact it seems that Kila and I have many friends in common. So this is not an attack on her. I do not believe that she is lying or trying to be malicious. Neither do I think that the owners of Buchi are lying or trying to be malicious or conduct business in an underhanded manner.

    I simply think that someone lost their job which, rightfully in our current economic climate, made them upset and then was given an inappropriate platform from which to speculate on the reasons for losing said job.

    Which is why I’m saddened that Forbes thought this was a worthy subject for his time and effort, and that his editors thought it was grounds enough to risk the welfare of a local business.

    If the intent was to expose a company that was not meeting the Living Wage standards, then it seems to me that a brief interview with Buchi would have satisfied the Xpress that they were aware of the discrepancy and were working to correct it.

    If the intent was to question the merits or relevancy of a living wage program then I think that could have been satisfied without threatening the livelihood of a local small business.

    But if the intent was to accuse Buchi of discriminatory firing practices, then I would say that the arguments put forth supporting this line of reasoning have been extremely thin indeed. I have seen nothing printed in paper or online that suggests this is anything more than hearsay. And although I don’t think the Xpress has technically committed libel, I think they have been extremely irresponsible in this matter by giving a platform to unconfirmed allegations.

    In their letter that they wrote in response, Buchi said..

    “You’re writing about real people who are deeply embedded in this community. Your one-sided article did some very real damage. We are not allotted enough space [here] to respond to all of the inaccuracies. To make this right, we request a more balanced article to present the whole story.”

    I am disappointed that the balanced article that they requested has yet to appear. Instead they have been subjected to what essentially amounts to a kangaroo court that has taken place in the comment section of this blog and on the airwaves of local radio stations.

    I am also disappointed in the absolute unwillingness of Forbes or the Xpress to admit that they may have made a mistake or been hasty in bringing this matter in front of the public. The continued investigation and dialogue with those involved that Forbes promised in response to Buchi’s letter should have taken place before the original article was ever published. Instead we have been left to speculate on speculations while our neighbors fight to defend their reputation and livelihood.

  27. Tatuaje,

    In my opinion, the topic is equally important whether Kila was fired because she asked a question about a label, or if she was fired for “personality issues” as Buchi claims, but without any previous addressing those issues with her.

    I think that at least one of your questions, which is basically “what’s the point of this story” might be questioned by listening to my interview with her and Joe Rinehart a few weeks ago:

    http://archive.main-fm.org/systemic-20101226.mp3

    I think your timeline is off about one thing, for sure…. you mention that Buchi was in the process of fixing this before all the press coverage, and that is incorrect. They defended their use of the Living Wage label until after the ACT article, the Xpress article and the Firestorm open letter. Only then did they admit that their wages did not meet the Living Wage Campaign’s standards, and they stated they would remove it.

    And, to me that is one of the core issues of this whole argument… accountability/integrity.

    Another issue is the natural power imbalances in the legal set-up of having at-will employment, meaning that you can fire people without reason. Even if they fired her for personality reasons, which is the reason they gave her, why had she never been notified previously that there were such issues?

    The main reason that I decided to do a show about this subject is because I think the questions about community authenticity are important… What kind of community are we trying to build? How important is integrity to our community building efforts? If businesses are allowed to trade products for wages in this certification process, then does the certification mean anything, or is it a meaningless marketing tool? These questions are also real and alive around organic certifications and other certifications that lead people to believe that practices live up to a certain standard. If we don’t actually live up to the standards we profess, should we stop pretending to? Many people see things like a Living Wage label and believe in what it says, but if it doesn’t mean what it says, that is a huge issue. For those of us who want to build a world that is more equitable and fair, that is based on sustainability and systems that work for everybody, we have to be careful to analyze and make sure we are living up to our standards.

    Buchi is not an isolated business who is trading product or services for wages. If the Living Wage sticker said “Living Wage or equivalent trade” that might be different, huh? Although in this case, it still wouldn’t work because the cost of Buchi is still less than the difference between these wages and the calculated Living Wage.

    Just Economics has admitted that there are other businesses that are doing trades such as these, but will not disclose which ones or how many. In a statement I read on my show, given to me by Vicki Meath to read, Vicki said that she did not know how many businesses fell into this category, basically she had not had a chance to tally them up. I’ve heard unconfirmed reports about several employers who are in this category, but don’t know for sure.

    I really, again, recommend you listen to my show. The first 20 minutes or so are Kila recounting her experience, and then for the 40 minutes after that, Joe, Kila and I talk about all these deeper issues, which are the real reason that a story like this is worth breaking and/or following. I certainly didn’t break the story, but on my show we took it deeper.

  28. Isle of Man

    “I am also disappointed in the absolute unwillingness of Forbes or the Xpress to admit that they may have made a mistake or been hasty in bringing this matter in front of the public.”

    It’s really not surprising to me that the Xpress has fallen short in taking a long, honest look at how the original article was written and received. Think about it: even if there are private acknowledgements within the Xpress about how this may have been handled more professionally, admitting poor judgement or mistakes only cheapens the Xpress brand. Instead, we get this growing sense of smugness and anti-self-awareness within many news desks these days.

    But as someone who has a background in journalism, I can say without hesitation that, had the original article passed through my old copy desk without revision, the editor/boss at my old paper would have been livid, and rightly so.

    The article seemed like a classic case of rushing to print with only a few token quotes from the opposing side, just so the writer/editors could later remind everyone they gave Buchi the opportunity to “respond.” But any serious news article attempting to investigate and sort the details of such a controversial story would have held off printing for at least another week and dug a little deeper to capture a more complete picture.

  29. actionjackson

    @tatauge

    It dosen’t matter. They are the owners and she was ther worker. SHE has a right to a job and they can’t discriminate against her. Owners are constantly abusing workers and we need to do somthing about it. Im sick of all the injustice. We don’t have any recourse? People like you wit slick words anger me. Workers should band together and TAKE IT BACK! There is power in numbers. And as we know, actions speaks louder than words.

  30. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Workers should band together and TAKE IT BACK!

    Take what back?

  31. While I can sincerely appreciate a grass roots effort to encourage and promote living wage….it is imperative on the organization doing the certifying that they in fact are certain that an organization does pay a living wage…based on the standards the JE has set. Otherwise, this appears to be yet another non-profit with little or no accountability.

  32. Margaret Williams

    @Isle of Man: (The article seemed like a classic case of rushing to print with only a few token quotes from the opposing side, just so the writer/editors could later remind everyone they gave Buchi the opportunity to “respond.” But any serious news article attempting to investigate and sort the details of such a controversial story would have held off printing for at least another week and dug a little deeper to capture a more complete picture.

    I assure you this wasn’t so (no “rush to print” without “investigation”), but much of this has been hashed and rehashed already.

    Please, those commenting: Some of you may be new to the dialogue, but there’s a growing amount of repetition here and a continued tendency toward problematic comments (bordering on ad hominem, posing potentially libelous “facts”). Comments that clearly violate our policy won’t be posted (though it’s worth noting that some of the commenters in the thread above are unmoderated — their comments go up without review).

  33. shadmarsh

    SHE has a right to a job and they can’t discriminate against her.

    No she doesn’t, and yes they can. NC is a “right to work” state.

  34. Margaret Williams

    Again (and this caution is to both moderated and unmoderated comment posters): Be civil and avoid rehashing details, opinions, alleged facts, etc. that have been hashed and rehashed. At this point, many of the folks on this and other threads are going to have to agree to disagree.

  35. @tatuaje:
    Accusations are often newsworthy, especially if they involve business owners and non-profits like these accusations did. Accusations are often newsworthy if they inspire this level of discourse. These accusations were newsworthy, and they should have been published. I am glad they were.
    Your own standards for defining something as proof seem a bit unrealistic. I see no reason to doubt the validity of supporting testimony. I can see this happening in any job situation, and I believe this is indeed what happened. I am sure these things happen all the time in all sorts of businesses. I have absolutely no doubt that this is what happened in this case, and I wish every small local business owner would be subjected to the same public scrutiny when they terminate a worker. It is a fact that employers have all the power when they take a worker’s labor. It is a fact that those who come to work have only a handful of rights. It is a fact that if the worker had any access to capital, they probably wouldn’t have to work for someone else in the first place. It is a fact that in an area where most workers rarely consider organizing, the Mountain Xpress helped empower a worker by publishing this article.

  36. Kila

    I am hoping that the moderators will at least allow this comment through soon. I sent several lengthy responses with collected evidence to tatuaje’s lengthy post late last night. Because this person posted to threads under the original article “Bottled in Bond,” “Buchi owner’s response..” and “V for Values, Not Vendetta” I sent my responses to all of these places. Only one of my comments has made it through so far, but it has not made it to this thread, so I ask that you look at the bottom of the Bottled In Bond article for one of my responses:

    http://www.mountainx.com/news/2010/122210bottled-in-bond/

  37. wwwaaaaaaayyyyyyyy too funny

    So if we are to believe random hearsay off the street (a la David Forbes in his original article), I have it on good faith that Ms. Donavon wasn’t a good fit at Buchi BEFORE the Living Wage certification was even called into question. Hard to believe, I know.

    Unfortunately I don’t have the power to publicize such things as the Mountain Xpress, nor would I without some shred of official evidence. I’d like to point out that Mr. Forbes’ article explicitly implied that Ms. Donavon was “fired” for questioning this certification and that Buchi was incorrectly classifying their workers, neither of which has been proven.

    And for everyone who keeps saying how “professional” Ms. Donavon is/was, that’s pretty easy to accomplish after you’ve taken it upon yourself to contact every local publisher with a smear campaign against an ex-“employer”. What would you expect otherwise?

    This is subjective journalism at best and I proudly haven’t touched a Mountain Xpress or clicked an ad since that original story printed (though I do enjoy reading this ridiculous David vs. Goliath back an forth on your website).

    Oh, I almost forgot…for those of you who keep throwing around the word “discrimination” and implying that Buchi did something illegal, you may want to brush up on your HR. The only potential laws broken were the classification of their workers but the NC Dept of Revenue and the IRS have neither proven otherwise – which, again, why it’s a shame that it found its way into the press.

  38. wwwaaaaaaayyyyyyyy too funny

    Fair enough…but I’ll restrain myself from combing through your posts looking for grammatical errors. I believe the issue at hand is more important.

  39. Turnip greens

    @Thad

    In case you weren’t paying attention, it was-

    “Explicitly implied”

    I’m having trouble understanding why that is so hard for you to understand.

  40. Candyland

    Whoa, wake up and smell the synthetic patchouli, Asheville!

    It doesn’t surprise me that D.L.D. would suggest Amazon over a local business … not one bit– even though reviews about a book can be read anywhere, not necessarily leading to a purchase. I’ve read enough of her posts on the Express comments over the year to know where she’s coming from, it doesn’t smell 1000 miles fresher! Time to clean that whistle! When I get my show rolling on URTV, provided it still exists, no comments will be censored. My first episode will involve Buchi owners on one side, and Kila on the other … in the SAME ROOM

    Let’s all duke it out together … no secrets. I mean, Utopia is just around the corner anyways.

    GO LOCALS!!

  41. Kila

    I’m re-posting comments i sent earlier so apologies if they seem untimely…

    @tatuaje

    “If the intent was to expose a company that was not meeting the Living Wage standards, then it seems to me that a brief interview with Buchi would have satisfied the Xpress that they were aware of the discrepancy and were working to correct it.”

    Forbes did an interview with Buchi about not meeting the Living Wage standards and this was their response (which was printed in his article “Bottled In Bond”):

    Schomber also wrote: “Just Economics contacted us to investigate a call they received questioning whether Buchi was meeting the living-wage criteria. They did not tell us who called. If Just Economics decides to modify their qualification policy to the point Buchi no longer qualifies, we will not have any problem with that decision at all. We’ll either adjust our pay rate or drop the certification.”

    As I mentioned in an earlier post, Buchi did not drop Living Wage Certification until after the Mountain Xpress article was published and announced it in response to Firestorm’s Open Letter to Buchi. Your assertion is incorrect, as an interview with Buchi had been conducted and they did not indicate that they were aware of the discrepancy and were working to correct it.

  42. Margaret Williams

    Thank you, everyone, for contributing comments here and on other threads related to this issue. As I’ve said before, we may, at this point, simply have to agree to disagree on what are “proven” facts and not, what was diligent journalism and not.

    In the interest of moving forward, please carefully consider future comments: Avoid rehashing what you see as the “facts,” refrain from attacks that may strike folks on its receiving end as libelous or ad hominem, keep your comments civil, and if you have a pending post — it may be under review due to these concerns (and our general policy).

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