In March of this year, the Financial Times (FT) gave Mondragon its Drivers of Change"Boldness in Business" award. FT stated that Mondragon was given this prize “for what it represents in terms of a real proposal for a new type of business model, ‘Humanity at Work,’ based on cooperation, working together, solidarity, and involving people in the work environment.”
What we haven’t seen reported in any great detail, however, is one of the most innovative and highest potential new initiatives to revitalize the labor and workers’ movement in the United States that comes to us from — of all places — Spain. That’s the entry and expansion of Mondragon Corporation (Mondragon), the world’s largest industrial, worker-owned and run cooperative, into the American market and workplace.
Each year, [MONDRAGON] also teaches some 10,000 students in its education centers and has roughly 2,000 researchers working at 15 research centers, the University of Mondragón, and within its industrial cooperatives. It also actively educates its workers about cooperatives’ principles, with around 3,000 people a year participating in its Cooperative Training program and 400 in its Leadership and Team Work program
[…] none of Mondragon’s success would have been possible without the infusion and the inspiration of a world view where human values are the foundation for building a different economic dynamic and relationship among people, which has to be reflected in a better quality of life, not necessarily based on material gains only.
Mondragon creates a different paradigm based on workers’ cooperatives. To some extent, the Mondragon cooperatives have tried to tackle the issue of the lack of worker control over a business, and they have done it in the following fashion:
- by creating workers ownership over a business, thus transforming the historical relationship of antagonism between the workers and management by creating a joint decision-making process. This has been put into practice through the one worker, one vote policy and by establishing workers representation at all decision-making levels.
- They have created wealth in their community by creating and keeping local jobs.
- They have created a local economy that is unavoidably connected to international competition, but based on a deeper commitment to their values, and their way of being in the world as workers’ owned businesses
[…] it’s estimated that there are more than 30,000 co-ops operating in the United States alone. Spain’s Mondragon Corporation, formed by a handful of technical college grads in the Basque region, now employs more than 80,000 people.
Issues of inequality and social justice persist in [the novel] 2312. Robinson points out capitalism’s resemblance to feudalism in the hierarchical structures of power and wealth on Earth, and envisions a new economic system for the “spacers” based on the more equitable Mondragon cooperative model in Spain.