Volunteer program terminated at East End Food Co-op

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The East End Food Co-op will end its practice of using volunteers on Sept. 14, according to a letter sent to the cadre of members who donate their time to the natural foods store at 7516 Meade St. in Point Breeze.

The letter, signed by Justin Pizzella, general manager, and Sarah Aerni, president, noted that “current [state] labor laws and corresponding insurance requirements do not lend favor to the use of volunteer labor within the cooperative structure.”

Neither could be reached for comment, and it could not be determined whether the decision is based on wording changes in the law, pending legal changes or potential for legal challenges.

For decades, co-ops in various states have dealt with issues surrounding using non staff to do what otherwise would be paid work and of worker’s compensation in case of injury.

An announcement on the co-op’s Facebook page invited people affected by this decision to attend the co-op’s annual meeting on Sept. 7 to learn more about the circumstances.

Volunteers are co-op members who provide work services that help the co-op keep prices more affordable.

Diana Nelson Jones: djones@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1626.

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