Worker-Owned Cooperatives

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Worker cooperatives are business entities that are owned and controlled by their members, the people who work in them. The two central characteristics of worker cooperatives are:

  1. workers invest in and own the business and
  2. decision-making is democratic, generally adhering to the principle of one worker-one vote.[1]

Worker-owned and/or worker-managed cooperatives in Portland

The Mondragon Model

Excerpt from Chapter 11 from, “The Organization of the Future,” published by the Peter F. Drucker Foundation.
UT professor George Cheney presents “Practical Lessons for a New Economy from the 55-year History of the Mondragón Cooperatives in Basque Country, Spain.”
The MONDRAGON Corporation is a corporation and federation of worker cooperatives based in the Euskadi. Founded in the town of Mondragón in 1956, its origin is linked to the activity of a modest technical college and a small workshop producing paraffin heaters. Currently it is the seventh largest Spanish company in terms of asset turnover and the leading business group in the Basque Country. At the end of 2010 it was providing employment for 83,859 people working in 256 companies in four areas of activity: Finance, Industry, Retail and Knowledge. The MONDRAGON Co-operatives operate in accordance with a business model based on People and the Sovereignty of Labour, which has made it possible to develop highly participative companies rooted in solidarity, with a strong social dimension but without neglecting business excellence. The Co-operatives are owned by their worker-members and power is based on the principle of one person, one vote.
Praxis Peace Institute Founding Director, Georgia Kelly, discusses the unique collaborative business model of the Mondragon Cooperatives located in the Basque country of Spain. Founded in 1955, Mondragon now encompasses 264 businesses and employs more than 100,000 worker-owners. It is a highly successful cooperative model with over 50 years of proven success. They have established research centers, bank and credit unions, a university, youth cooperatives, and small to large businesses. This presentation will cover the ethics and vision of Mondragón as well as unique success stories that are an inspiration to those seeking alternatives to business-as-usual. The goal of the Mondragón Cooperatives is to create community through economic relationships and to transform society through conscious economic practices.
The Mondragón Cooperative Corporation, or MCC, is often considered the most successful example of worker-owned enterprise in the world. Taking its name from the small town in the Basque Country of Spain where it was founded, the MCC’s reach now extends across Spain, Europe and the globe. Its highly integrated network of cooperative businesses competes successfully with conventional corporate rivals both locally and worldwide.

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