Members Weigh In on the return of recurring Shifts


By Sara Ivry

Earlier this year, the Food Coop announced plans are afoot to restore regular workslots, which will be referred to as “recurring” shifts. The FTOP-for-all model that was implemented during the pandemic will continue for those who want to keep working “freelance,” which is the new term replacing the term “FTOP.” While some members welcome the reversion, others are leery. A handful weigh in below.

Jennifer Bernstein
Cashier; sometimes does check out
Freelance book editor

Portrait taken at close range. The subject, Jennifer Bernstein, appears to be Caucasian, has silver hair and a placid expression. Jennifer wears a teal scarf and glasses with a reddish tinted frames.

FTOP is basically what we’ve been doing. I like meeting different Coop communities, different subsets of the community, by being there at different times of day and on different shifts. Right now, there’s not that feeling of, ‘Oh my gosh, my shift is coming up.’ That dread.

I recently checked out a guy who was up to just over $600 in his shop. Mostly he was getting vegetables. He got some supplements, too, and it was super fun checking him out. It turned out my husband checked him out before, also, and my hunch was he comes on a regular schedule. I wouldn’t have been able to meet him before.

Jon Nealon
Formerly an office worker
Video production

A Sony α77 with 16-50mm f/2.8 SSM lens.

I didn’t even know this was happening. It’s funny because I’ve always assumed regular shifts weren’t coming back. I overheard some people talking at the Coop about how the system as it is now is working really well, and that there is a really low no-show rate, so why change?

I used to do office shifts, and now I do checkout. I still look for office work, but it’s harder to find because the office has been completely streamlined in the pandemic. It’s been more computerized, so there are fewer shifts. I doubt my office shift will be there in the future; I don’t see the value of it, given the efficiency of the new system.

But it’s great that the shifts will be longer apart. There’s no downside to that.

Francesca Valerio
Former squad leader, now floor monitor
Executive Director of the Robert Lehman Foundation

Portrait taken at close range. The subject, Francesca Valerio, is light skinned, has long blond hair. Francesca’s head it tilted slightly and wears a slight smile.

People prefer to be able to make their own schedule. I did a work slot last week and we were talking about this. People were saying it always seemed whenever time came for your scheduled time of the month, it was a bad time—there was a work meeting you had to cancel, for instance. How it is now is practical, but it’s understandable that the Coop needs some standardized way of organizing shifts. Right now it’s random. Some days there are a thousand people who want to work. Other days there’s no one. The walkers have said that the only way to get a shift is to go on after midnight, cause that’s when the Coop posts slots, and by the morning they’re all gone. That’s a downside: if you want to be a walker you have to stay up ’til midnight.

Yana Calou
Receiving and checkout
Non-profit director

I’ve been a member for about eight years on a couple of different squads—checkout, cheese-wrapping, whatever’s there, except office work—before we moved to this way of doing things, and I’ve had some lovely pros both ways. It was nice to have the continuity of my work—of knowing when my shift was going to be and to see the same people over and over. There was a civility to that. Now you definitely meet new people and since Coop staff solved the problem of never being able to get a shift, it’s been quite lovely to look at my schedule for the week and pick something that works from there. I’m not a hard line either way. I enjoy the routine of the old ways.

Opal L

Studio photograph of an AKG C214 condenser studio microphone.

I’m indifferent. I’ve done both, and on the one hand it’s great to meet new people every six week cycle at the Coop. You can make a lot of friends. On the other hand, it’s definitely nice to work with the same people. But I’m on the fence. I’ve been coming here since I was a kid but then I left and came back a few times since I’m an adult.

Abigail Miller
Office worker
Graphic designer

The subject, Abigail Miller, stands a few feet from the camera, on deck. Abigail appears to be Caucasian, has jaw length hair, wears glasses, a broad smile, and a hand knit sweater.

I’m a Coop member since 2006 and have mostly done office shifts. For the past several years I did “post orientation,” now called “new member enrollment.” I like how flexible the new system is but I feel nostalgic about how I used to work with the same people for years. I know we won’t be magically time-machined back to the before times.

Sara Ivry is a long-time member of the Food Coop. An editor, writer, and podcaster, she lives in Clinton Hill.