Monthly Meeting - 2009-04-14
- Consensus Briefing
FreeGeek Monthly Meeting Tuesday April 14th 2009
Attendance: Luke, Bernie, Anthony, Frank, Randall, Dan, Ifny, Alex, David, Sumi, Jack, Severin, Mike, David, Simon, Gregor, Stephen (late)
Report by Ifny
- 4k revenue from scrap
- Sales down, $12700 this month. Possible factors - less production, not having laptop build going regularly, dropoffs slowdown after post-holiday surge.
- Pickups slowing down a bit but large enough to keep Mike busy.
- More pickups out in Coquitlam and Surrey. $15 pickup fee and current economy could be discouraging people to use pickups.
- Discussed alternative fees, e.g. not charging for (large) pickups or using a donation scheme.
- Noted that current pickup fee is significantly less than alternative recyclers ($50-$60)
Reported by Luke
- Adam left FG - directors agreed to pay out leave for the rest of his time.
- Discussed the difficulty of running an open organization while respecting the privacy and legal requirements of HR.
- David has been volunteering in the warehouse and cleaning up the area.
- Many were disappointed by Adam's abrupt departure, proposed a sendoff for Adam via a yet-to-be planned FreeGeek Social
Reported by Ifny
- Open positions (2) are looking to be filled, HR committee is sending out questionnaires, resumes reviewed
- Interviews scheduled for 16th/17th
- Staff morale down from Adam's leaving.
- Warehouse reorganization going well.
- Following Adam's leaving, a proposal for staff conduct and discipline policy is being reviewed. An improved staff review process is also being worked on. Directors will have a large role in the new review system.
- Noted that the organization of the new staff proposals are scattered throughout wiki, proposal to improve structure.
- Q: Someone mentioned a TV advertisement for an electronics recycling scheme, questioned if new competition would have an effect on business. Do we want to do TV ads?
- FG cannot afford TV advertisements, does not pay for advertising as a general rule. The company with the TV ads is part of FG's downstream recycling anyway.
- Public service announcements are a possibility for exposure, currently we have radio spots but no TV.
Megan has been tasked with sending in director's insurance form. Simon to follow up with Megan and insurance.
- Earth day upcoming on April 22. Two companies are rounding up staff hardware for pickup by FG, equipment drive.
- 1 year anniversary of e-stewardship coincides with Earth Day.
- Annual General Meeting - Sunday May 24th, Maritime Labor Center
- Invited to attend CossFest (Calgary Open Source) but may not be able to.
- Ubuntu Vancouver is having a release party, Fri April 24
Standardize meeting minutes
Currently no fixed format and inconsistencies between minutes. Improvement could be effected by a paid staff member, fixed form.
Discussion deferred to next meeting.
Helpful links for you to review:
Report by Ifny
- 2009 Budget proposal has been prepared by director Sean H., Ifny and our bookeeper Mahmoud.
- Proposed budget was presented to staff at April 3rd staff meeting and passed with full consent.
- Vancity grant would be required for full HR retention, operating costs.
- Budget includes staff benefits that have been in the pipeline for a long time.
- Covers 5 full time staff Jan-Mar.
- Full-time staff pay $24000 - budget follows this staff pricing from April onwards.
- Vancity grant will cover Build and Education coordinator salaries.
- When grant runs out, may have to look at ending one of these positions.
- Bank balance is positive but not a real cushion (unless grant is included).
- Noted that the budget is drastically different from last year.
- Reflects large growth but smaller cushioning margins.
- Budget predicts store income very conservatively ($12000 up to August)
Ifny stepped through individual budget items.
- New services charge now that we use a bookkeeper.
- Suggestion was made to compare budget with previous year's to see changes in usage trends - utilities, wages.e.g. power use much larger than last year's - some suggestions to reduce utility use - closing open doors, using LCD monitors, pulling inactive power adapters.
- Ifny noted the budget figures for gas were based on the last year's usage.
- Noted that utilities make up a relatively small percentage of operating costs
- Most of the operating costs is for staff.
- Question raised if the ratio of paid workers:volunteers has changed.
- Currently 1070 registered volunteers, no exact figures on active volunteers. Typical to have 20-30 daily volunteers.
- Rent has increased as of March now that FG rents the entire venue - from $1851 to $2880
- Paying $285/mo for storage, limited capacity. Differing views on whether the need for storage will increase or decrease this year so have budgeted for the entire year.
- Someone suggested a "build-party" event after hours, for processing build fodder.
- Training programs budgeted, including communication and first aid courses for staff.
- Budget does not include costs to produce a safety instruction manual and have it reviewed by safety consultants.
- Calls for volunteers to help with the safety manual. Safety joint committee will need to be reactivated.
- Questioned why Free Geek does not seek government grants.
- FG has applied for some govt grants but not received any yet, pointed out constraints that grants impose, meeting requirements, external auditors.
- Can be difficult to communicate the objectives of the organization and how they relate to grant requirements.
- FG has been run successfully as a non-profit business and this is the primary means of raising revenue.
- One of the starting principles was to keep FG financially independent.
- David felt the budget was more realistic than last year's and relatively uncontroversial because not running in deficit.
- Next budget will be more difficult because will not include Vancity grant money - recommendation to begin the 2010 budget earlier.
Proposal to formally adopt as the official budget, no objections raised, consensus reached.
RCBC Board Election
Presented by Ifny
- RCBC (Recycling Commission of BC) board of directors meeting is coming up.
- President is stepping down, new president will be appointed from the board.
Proposal: FG supported candidates will be selected by a working group, Ifny to put out a call for volunteers. Consensus reached.
Weekly "Internal day" proposal
Presented by David
- Staff under high workload.
- Some activities (e.g. policy production, discussion) being overlooked because staff do not have enough free time to attend to.
- Proposal to have an "internal day" every week to free up staff for these activities.
- Suggested to have more trained/experienced volunteers rostered on internal days, or none.
- Q: do staff require a whole day?
- Luke noted the proposal is to run the internal days for 3 months, not a long term proposal.
- Ifny felt that a full day was appropriate.
- Suggestion to have volunteers finish an hour early instead, leaving an hour of extra time at the end of the day for staff to work without distractions.
- David had an alternate proposal to shut down FG for two weeks, to get through backlog of outstanding tasks. **Suggested Friday as the internal day, allows preparation for busy Saturdays.
- Objective is to "go slower to go faster later" - taking some time to reorganize will help FG run more efficiently in future.
- Frank suggested having staff take half-days to work on backlog while keeping FG running as usual.
- David noted that current work backload is affecting staff training of volunteers - less staff time working with volunteers and less attention to volunteers due to other work distractions.
- Suggestion to avoid scaling back activities that produce revenue.
- Suggestion to have volunteers that do not work on the benches, but are solely responsible for helping volunteers at stations. Role of support volunteers was mentioned, covers these responsibilities.
- Suggestion to rotate a free staff member and have others working normally, allowing FG to continue running while letting a staff member work on tasks.
- David noted that staff have dedicated roles and so wouldn't work out.
- Implementation of some suggested ideas would require staff to create more structure/processes, adding to existing
- Ifny noted that we can't close receiving or the store; the store can't be run without paid staff.
- Ifny suggested teaching first-timers in groups.
- Sumi noted volunteers looking for more instruction & information. Environment and support given to volunteers directly affects the volunteer experience, perception of working at FG.
Proposal for internal day once a week for 3 month trial, with no volunteers. Day of the week to be picked by staff. Brief review at the next monthly meeting. After 3 months the trial will be reviewed. - no objections raised, consensus reached.
Build program & grant
Presented by David
- Vancity has given a grant for $42000 to cover specific tasks hiring two people (education and build coordinator) to implement a build program.
- Plan to implement grant requirements was outlined in the grant proposal. David raised questions of Stephen to determine the status of phases of the plan.
- Stephen noted the plan is behind schedule in parts. Transition/startup issues, coordination. Noted the plan was ahead in terms of numbers of computers being taken out of the waste stream, the primary objective of the grant.
- David raised concerns about fulfilling grant requirement and implications of failing to fulfill obligations.
- David noted no formal procedures available for running the build program, making it difficult to transition if build coordinator is replaced.
- Vancity has been informed that the program start was delayed due to time taken to find a build coordinator.
- David proposed a decision should be made to either return the grant money or we commit to the program and begin drawing from the funds.
- Ifny noted the decision to start spending would affect the formal start date of the program.
- Q: Are the objectives reasonable?
- Ifny felt they were reasonable
- Stephen had concerns about the responsibilities outside of just building but overall were OK.
- Luke asked Stephen how to get visibility and accountability on the program status.
- Stephen recapped program status.
- Proposal for build program coordinator to come up with a monthly planof action items from the original Vancity grant that can be checked at the next monthly meeting.
- Ifny raised concerns about inducting new build volunteers, pointed outneed for procedures and more process, visibility. Concerned about the state of the program and meeting grant requirements.
- David noted that there have been times when external customers have been unable to source desktop PC's from FG, no infrastructure for build program.
- Stephen raised the point that the 40 machines built last week have all been sold, citing high demand as a reason that PCs are unavailable from the store. e.g. An order for 50-100 machines recently. On a general basis the build capacity could fill the store but high demand results in unavailability.
- Others commented that empty shelves have been the result of prioritizing custom orders over Adoption and Store needs, as well as slowed production and lack of build program infrastructure.
- Store sales do not reflect higher demand than usual -- sales have been lower over the last 2 months than normal.
- Adoption classes have not had sufficient machines, or have technical problems during classes (approx 3 computers are required per week)
- Sumi questioned the objective of the program for FG - idea is to set up the infrastructure for a build program and have a pool of trained volunteers able to keep the program running. Noted the 24-hour Adoption Program was the most popular program run by FG. Relies on training volunteers to help new volunteers, internal day would also help set up infrastructure goals.
- Ifny noted the difference between building computers and coordinating a build program, noted that it's easy to get distracted by the former.
- Problems raised with visibility of recent Adoption vs Build Meeting Minutes, no advertising of meeting.
- Stephen - Actions from the meeting will be used to guide starting the build program tomorrow, but can be changed at a later date.
- Questions were raised about an ad-hoc non-workgroup meeting making decisions to change existing FG programs (Adoption, etc).
- Suggestion to treat the decisions of Adoption vs. Build meeting as proposals.
- Need a way for the planning and progress to be made visible and enable participation from the FG community and staff.
- Stephen noted that sending the meeting minutes to staff only was an oversight.
- Concern about bringing in newbie builders before there were enough build instructors.
- Suggestion to catch up on Vancity proposal items while working through build program setup as outlined in minutes.
- Severin - if we're paying a build coordinator then the formal start
date is irrelevant - money has been spent.
- David suggested a HR committee organize a meeting to address internal concerns regarding the build program. Can be elevated by committee to FG directors and staff - no objections, consensus reached.
- Luke proposed to get a status plan of the program covering the first two months from Stephen for next month - no objections, consensus reached.
- Luke proposed starting the program, spending the money, forming a report of current status, working through backlog of work on the program and improve communication on the project. Consensus to do it!
Staff Discipline Policy proposal
Presented by David
- David summarized history of Staff_Disciplinary_Policy_and_Procedure
- Randall suggested getting a legal review for the procedure.
- David and Ifny volunteered to find a lawyer, starting at our previous lawyer.
- Proposal to tentatively adopt the procedure as a living document, pending legal review - no objections, consensus reached.
- Any changes to the document should be considered separate revisions, and should follow normal proposal procedures.
- Luke proposes after legal review, staff be educated about the plan and
sign it. Consensus reached to proceed with that.
Proposal for warehouse coordinator
- Finding a replacement for Adam.
- 2 weeks getting warehouse organized and set up.
- Final week to train replacement warehouse coordinator.
- Mike, Sumi expressed support for David to be coordinator.
- Proposal to contract David at regular staff wage for the next 3 weeks - consensus reached.
- Stephen proposes: Amendment to extend it back retroactively to cover 4 weeks - consensus reached.
Next Meeting Roles
05-12 - Facilitator: Gregor, Scribe: Jack