Lease Deal Calms Co-op, University Troubles

    After two years of tenuous negotiations, university administrators and campus co-ops have structured a deal that gives the stores long-term leases and establishes firm roles for the A.S. Council and Graduate Student Association.

    Jason Campa/Guardian
    Food Co-op cashier Chris Hagler waits for customers at the store, which has just agreed to a lease contract with the university after two years of often bitter negotiations.

    The agreement is virtually complete, according to University Centers Director and acting Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Life Gary R. Ratcliff, and is just awaiting signatures from negotiating parties, which include the A.S. Council, GSA, University Centers and the four co-ops: the Food Co-op, Groundwork Books, the General Store Co-op and Che Cafe.

    The co-ops have been operating on month-to-month leases from the university for over a year, after negotiations turned sour in spring 2004. The university demanded concrete changes to the Master Space Agreement — a contractual document that leased the facilities, which then made separate deals with the individual co-ops and the A.S. Council and GSA — including extended renewal periods and new language regarding alterations and repairs. The original Master Space Agreement was drafted nine years ago with a five-year term, and has since been renewed twice for two-year periods.

    The new agreement establishes five two-year renewal options for the co-ops. At each two-year period, the A.S. Council and GSA need to certify that the co-ops are fulfilling certain tasks, according to Kate Pillon, Thurgood Marshall College senior senator and A.S. representative to the negotiations.

    “Parameters range from … fair prices [and] fair hours to whether the co-ops are educational for the student community,” Pillon said. “In the past, we’ve considered the co-ops as teaching tools for students on how to run a business, which fulfills the educational aspect. We need to make sure the stores are keeping that up, anytime the document is up for renewal.”

    After 10 years, the parties are obligated to return to negotiations, where the document would be probed in a more in-depth manner, Pillon said.

    “Every document needs to be re-examined after a decade,” Pillon said.

    Pillon presented the new contract to the A.S. Council last week, and expects councilmembers and GSA to vote on it this week.

    Finding a deal acceptable to all sides has been difficult due to a rocky relationship between the university and the co-ops, according to Pillon. In 1992, a judge issued a restraining order against administrators, who had ordered campus police to break into the General Store Co-op to search for financial records that the co-ops had been ordered to release.

    “It’s a volatile group of people with volatile history,” Pillon said. “Getting the university and co-ops to be on the same page has been very hard.”

    While mediation sessions remain confidential under a written agreement, issues were eventually solved, according to University Ombudsperson Judith Bruner.

    “Generally, issues were resolved by all parties working together to reach a mutually acceptable solution,” she said.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $210
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $210
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal