Protesters gathered in front of John Eldridge, III’s law firm in Fayetteville today to confront Board members Jim Roughton, Linda Ralston and Sue Graham — who, the protesters say, are no longer on the Board.
The meeting was called by Jim Roughton, the current Board Chair, who is at the end of his term. Two new Board members have just been elected: Hank Kaminsky and Joshua Youngblood.
The recent controversy surrounding the Board of Ozark Natural Foods revolves largely around the muddy circumstances surrounding the termination of General Manager Alysen Land late last month, which the Board executed in a majority overhaul of positions and executive session discussion and voting.
Also a point of controversy is the petition to dismiss Ralston and Graham from their positions. A move that was deemed illegal from the ONF lawyer, John Eldridge, III. A special meeting was held without approval from the Board, during which, members voted to remove the two from their positions. The meeting, according to Eldridge, did not meet state statute requirements and was illegal.
Today as they approached the location of the closed meeting, Ralston and Roughton walked through a crowd of 15 protesters, who shouted, things like “You’re not on the board.” and “Tell us why you fired Alysen.”
While Roughton walked through the crowd with no comment, Ralston stopped to engage with protesters. In reply to one protester’s question about Alysen Land’s termination, she said, “Without cause doesn’t mean ‘No Cause’.” She also said that protesters did not know the entire story, to which many responded, “Tell us!”
For now, without cause is the only answer.
Brittny Horn, ONF employee, says she is protesting, “Because these people are completely disrespecting what the co-op stands for.”
She says in the 11 months she has worked at the co-op, Land had been kind and supportive and that the only shades of a hostile work environment had been from Board members.
Alexa Griff, Marketing manager for ONF, explains that people who may have been fired over the year could have been fired by multiple department managers and she confirmed that the Human Resources Manager would be the key person in managing any evidence of a hostile work environment or other such manger-employee conflicts.
Horn says the matter is largely a management-Board conflict, not a Management-Staff conflict.
*** TFW was unable to find the agenda for tonight’s close session meeting, but will keep readers updated as events unfold.