At a Food Co-op, a Discordant Thought: Nannies Covering Shifts

An allegation by a blog that nannies have been paid to work their employers’ shifts has prompted some hand-wringing and shoulder-shrugging.

Comments: 35

  1. Wow! Assuming this is true, I hope those paying their nannies to work and shop (I'd much rather pay someone to shop for me than work for me!), know they owe the PSFC an extra shift if they have added an adult member to their household! Mostly, though, I really hope this is not true. The Coop is has more than enough members and potential members who actually NEED to save money and may also be interested in building community at the some time.

  2. NY Times' obsession with all things Park Slope and a little bit about those nasty racial/cultural divisions. Having servants do co-op shifts. La dee dah.

  3. During the Civil War, a draft-eligible man could avoid serving in the army by paying a substitute $600.00.
    Perhaps we should set up a pay schedule for all sorts of civic duty-avoidance substitutes.

  4. My employer asked me to note that she never uses me for any purpose other than caring for her 3 children.

  5. Two and a half hours is "painfully long"?? Apparently this woman doesn't have a job, because I cannot imagine how she'd cope with a nine-hour day. Welcome to responsible adulthood, my dear.

  6. Rich people think they can buy anything. It's worked with politicians, why not coops?

    These people are never going to do or pay (via taxes) their fair share to the larger community.

    P.S. Wonder how many of these scofflaws don't pay their nannies' Social Security Tax?

  7. Of the myriad things that should embarass the New York Times these days, perhaps none is worse than their coverage of the Park Slope Food Coop.

    I have been a member for ten years and it isn't a giant socialist haven. The food is amazing, the rules are not burdensome, and people don't try to question the provenance of your food or complain if you buy meat or want to get your kids a frozen pizza. The people who shop and work there are from all walks of life. I checked out yesterday and I, a marketing executive, had a checkout clerk who worked as a stockbroker.

    Yet despite the fact that the "Food" or "Home" or "Styles" sections of the paper are full of thoughtful opinion pieces by Jane Brody or Michael Pollan telling us to eat more fresh and unprocessed food, those who actually find that rare place where the produce is as good as it gets get lampooned as if they had joined a cult.

    Why has the Times written ten stories over ten years, all of which focus on the same 2% of the behavior at the Food Coop? It boggles the mind.

  8. I'm a member of the food co-op, and I can't believe that the Times always feels it necessary to portray it in such a negative light. Most of the people are friendly, positive, and helpful. Would you say that America is worse than a communist country, because there, if you know the right people, you can become rich? What an absurd quote. We are people banding together to share the benefits of our labor--lower prices, and do it in as socially just a way as possible.

    When someone shouts at you on the subway, no one blames the subway and refuses to ride again. To the editors of the Times, please stop taking the problems of the co-op out of context.

  9. Is this a real story? Or just a chance to snark on the co-op? Did the writer look into see if the allegations were true? There is no indication in the article that they did. The fact that the Times published this is worse than the blog spreading rumors in the first place. According to the regulations of the co-op, members are allowed to work shifts for other members. Whether the member working the shift is a spouse, friend, or stranger is not relevant. Do people abuse their nannies? Maybe. Does that have anything to do with the Park Slope Food Co-op? Of course not. With an incredible global upheaval happening in the Middle East, I am astounded to see that the Times chooses to fill up valuable space in the main section of the paper with this.

  10. I understand it's obligatory to make snarky comments about the Park Slope Food Coop because otherwise what's the hook. We have been labeled Stalinists and/or Nazis. However,the bottom line for those of us who don't find the work rule an impossible commitment, following some rules so that almost 16,000 of us can pay a mere 21% over cost for our goods is a fair trade-off. What is offensive is Coop members signing in for their shifts, shopping and then leaving without working at all. Or how about lying about the number of people in your household so that your husband/wife/partner doesn't have to work (because they won't) and the actual member refuses to do the extra work shift. What is more offensive happened yesterday, probably while this very article was being written. In a period of less than 10 hours two separate thefts totalling over $600 resulted in two arrests of Coop members.

  11. Technically, if your nanny lives with you, he/she should work their own shift, as well as your and your partners. But I guess that's why a family with two kids needs to nannies because I can't think of another reason why a family needs that much staff.

  12. Co-op members who pay somebody to work their shifts are La-Z-Boy socialists who would live in luxuriously renovated tenement-style apartments or newly-constructed pre-war buildings [sic] wearing punk fashion and driving energy-efficient sport utility vehicles. They could spend the money on the differential of full-priced groceries at the Key Foods across Flatbush, but they would rather emulate and commercialize the ideals of others.

    Which is fine, I guess.

  13. Years ago I had a friend who was a member of the Food Co-op. The quality and prices there were awesome. As alluded to in the article, I noticed that there were passionately dogmatic members, but there was no uniformity to it; I am sure that if it is true, sending Nannies to any members civic duty is contemptuous of the Co-op's values. The Co-op should take a stand against this in order to prevent such people from gaining control of the Co-op and remaking it into their own thing. If you don't believe this can happen, look at what's happened at certain prep schools.

  14. Obviously the coop is not condoning this behavior, so really all this article is saying is that some members cheat. Well, we know that and wish it weren't so but if we cracked down harder on violations then the NYT would probably write an article about how the coop is a bunch of rule-enforcing bureaucrats.

  15. Life is good if this is the worst thing to happen in Park Slope.

    I love these stories! Keep 'em up!

  16. This is the kind of story that makes people from everywhere else *so glad* that they don't live in New York.

  17. I love all these transplanted Brooklynites from out of town who think that they've "discovered" how hip and cool Brooklyn is.
    Here's a word of advice, go back to your little towns with your nannies and take up elsewhere.
    the unmitigated gall of these people, surprising? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!

  18. Of all the things that New Yorkers have to cope with on a day-in-day out basis, this seems to be ever so trivial.
    Those who are directly affected, if they have an ax to grind, can do so within the confines of the co-op.
    This sounds like the petty complaints of suburan living is creeping into our city.
    Ruth Beazer

  19. The Zinester's Guide to NYC, published last fall, has a great listing for the Park Slope Food Coop: "Anarchist heaven or Stalinist Hell? You decide."

  20. Stories like these make my day.

  21. How bourgeois. Nice that the co-op and its busy-body members have the time and wherewithal to delve into the personal business of its membership. I'll be moving to Brooklyn in about a month, and had been considering whether to join for the organic veggies. I think I'll pass. I'm probably way to laissez-faire to be much use to the co-op, and I'll lack the time to read and memorize all the important rules.

  22. Ahhhh, Park Slope again. Not gonna lie--seems like half the NYT staff has a crush on the place...

    Two things:

    1) Been in Brooklyn for 10 years, know many current and former Co-Op members, and other than, "Well, the food's great..." none of them have anything positive to say about the place.

    2) There's a fantastic farmer's market every Saturday at Grand Army Plaza. Support the amazing farmers who bring phenomenal product into the heart of our city. No work requirements, either!

  23. As someone who grew up in Manhattan in the '70s it is hard to describe my utter glee at reading stories like these as I sit in my beautiful apartment next to the Lake in Chicago.

    Ben @#7 (with whom I am almost certain I went to nursery school) is correct if he implies that 20 years ago The Times (which was then a serious newspaper) would have never have covered a story like this: it was strictly New York Magazine territory. But things have changed.

    You could not make this stuff up and, in a world where there is enough food to feed everyone and yet people are starving to death everyday, the entertainment value of these stories is priceless.

    Keep 'em coming!!!

  24. My, this is a scandal! Whatever shall we do? I wish this were my biggest worry - whether or not my co-op partners were honoring the by-laws. It just goes to show you that no matter how big the city, we all live in small towns.

  25. This is not a big issue at the coop, but to the Times it does make a big, smug article. I'm thankful for fresh, reasonably priced, simple food. Most visitors of the PSFC come away with a positive impression. But it can be crowded at times, but not with nannies. The membership keeps growing mostly with people who like good, fresh, reasonably priced simple food.

  26. [email protected]: Cheating is not doing your shifts, and as I recall the Co-op was extremely flexible about making up missed shifts. The Co-op was supposed to accomplish more for its members than merely great food on a non-profit basis; it was supposed to foster conversation and community, albeit with some passionate differences therein. For many people at the Co-op its a labor of love. If people send a Nanny to do their shifts, they are contemptuous of the mission and shopping there solely for selfish reasons. For the Co-op, this should not be OK.

    I hope that the Co-op will be true to itself and not worry if people complain about the enforcement of its ethics. Besides - people have always complained about the Co-op's rules.

    BTW -There's just something about the Park Slope Food Co-op. It's weird how the Co-op engenders so much ethical and policy debate, handwringing, and sometimes bitter differences, even from people who aren't even in it, like me.

  27. Soviet reeducation camp redux...

  28. Support the farmer's market? When I can afford to pay $2.50 a pound for the apples at the "fantastic farmer's market" - more like a fantastic rip-off market - instead of 99 cents a pound for the SAME apples (but better, actually, because they weren't left over from last week's half-wizened unsold stock like they are at Grand Army Plaza), then I'll start considering leaving the Coop. Say what you will, Brooklyn would be a poorer place if the Coop disappeared, especially for those of us who can't pay the ridiculous prices of farmer's markets or WholeFood or stomach the substandard KeyFood/C-Town produce. Who cares if it's not perfect, if there's negative things about being a member, if it's always got some weird quirky thing going on with the more sensitive/persnickity members? My family's healthier and better-fed because of the Coop. That is a huge payback for 2 3/4 hours every four weeks. Remember, not everyone in Park Slope is wealthy. Some of us really depend on the place. I work check-out when I do my shifts--and there's plenty of people on food stamps who are members, too. But no one at the NYT seems to mention that. Enabling an at-risk population to eat better for less doesn't sell papers, I guess.

    I think you're all missing the point. The real question is, what's the motivation behind the NYT editors who keep putting these fluffy, snarky non-articles in the NYT? They're not doing it on a whim. Somewhere in the NYT there's an agenda that makes them put this stuff out there. What is it?

  29. I would think that the nanny might like a chance to 'take a break' of sorts and do something else for awhile? As long as her terms of employment are fair and the conditions are acceptable?

  30. Ugh, my wife worked as a nanny to put herself through college. Those people were seriously psycho. To them, nanny = catchall servant, doer of all sorts of menial labor, and especially, the person to blame for all problems in the house---whether it be the bratty two year old's screaming or their failing marriage.
    I can totally see them pulling something like this. (And not paying her extra for it.)

  31. Ditto-- the prices at the Grand Army Plaza "farmers" market are not bargains by any stretch. Parents with hungry families do not stretch their food dollars there. Probably you'll find more nannies there than at the Food Coop.

  32. Tim K - FYI - you probably can't get into PSFC which has 16,000 members who suffer the overly courteous shoppers who create a uniquely democratic society there each and every day.

    It's rough to shop the aisles and get help from a fellow member when you're trying to decide on the best aged cheese for your dinner party.

    Really difficult when you have to choose from the 20-30 beers and ales lovingly displayed and chosen by the Beer Committee.

    NYT: there are no volunteers, only member owners. And yes, please move on to harping on some other subject. This has gotten a little repetitious.

    Anyone and everyone: We have opened a 100% working food coop in the area of Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bed Stuy (google Greene Hill Food Co-op). We have only 250 members so you can get in on the ground floor - AND vote on any rules of governing yet to be decided. I bet we vote we all need to work. I know I will.

  33. Mom can't come in for her shift, she has a headache because her tiara is too heavy.

  34. First you should ask "What is the nanny or maid being paid per hour? " Are her social security and taxes being paid? Probably not. When she goes back to the household how many more hours will she be putting in without any overtime? -time and a half or not. Most don't get any. I've worked for some of rich people as a driver/ chauffeur and when I could speak to the maid or nanny (not allowed in some cases) they felt degraded having to do something like this. I know of maids who were sent to work in their bosses friend's homes when they were away on travel. Could the Coop member send his regular employees from the office to cover the shift? No way.
    Just a few questions for you. Think about the nanny's situation in this.
    So no, I don't want us to "eat the rich" Botox and silicon can kill, and its all gristle anyway.

  35. oh please. people who can afford to pay their nannies don't have to shop at the coop.