[MONDRAGON] operates in four areas: finance, industry, retail and knowledge. Co-operatives are owned by their worker-members and power is based on the principle of one person, one vote.
A portion of each member enterprise’s net revenue goes to a fund for research and development, which finances new product development. R&D employs 800 people with a budget of more than $75 million. The company’s first product in 1956 was paraffin heaters. In 2010, 21.4 per cent of sales comprised new products and services that did not exist five years earlier."
This summer, I experienced Mondragon first-hand when I visited with members of the MIT CoLab. During that time, our dialogue centered on a commitment to human dignity that is all but absent in most of corporate America today. While we have become immune to headlines that announce 5, 10, 20 or even 30,000 employees who are scheduled to be terminated, Mondragon, a $20 billion enterprise, agonizes over the loss of a single job.
Recently, Mondragon’s General Assembly, it’s largest body, voted to reduce wages across the board for all workers rather than put the jobs of workers at one of over a hundred businesses at risk. Of equal note is the fact that the senior management of the enterprise makes no more than seven times the lowest paid worker.
As we explored the unique attributes of Mondragon, its culture and education were central and recurring themes. The integrity of the whole cannot be guarded by a small group of individuals, but only through the commitment and ongoing education of the whole community."
Mondragon cooperatives operate in accordance with 10 basic principles including the Supremacy of Labour, the Instrumental and Subordinate Nature of Capital, Participatory Management, Payment Solidarity (meaning the highest income is never more than nine times the lowest wage), and Education.
The Mondragon cooperatives are a testament to the importance of rights and positive incentives at the workplace. They prove that democracy at work is viable and sustainable."
VIDEO: Understanding the Mondragon Worker Cooperative Corporation in Spain’s Basque Country
— local-control @ posterous.com