There are ways to overcome this issue, beginning with loan guarantees from those who understand and support the model. This blog post reflects the author’s personal views and opinions, and does not represent the views and opinions of Beneficial State Bank and/or Beneficial State Foundation. The University was created by the association of three educational cooperatives, with the guarantee of an extensive career and experience in the world of education, these were Mondragon Goi Eskola Politeknikoa “Jose Mª Arizmendiarrieta” S.Coop., ETEO S.Coop. The General Assembly meets at least once a year to act on what sounds like a mostly pro forma agenda. Worldwide, cooperatives are even more significant, representing well over $3 trillion in turnover, 12.6 million in employment, and over a billion people in total membership. In Spain, the state-run social safety net is designed to cover employees. According to our tour leader, Georgia Kelly, “You cannot impose a cooperative culture where nothing like it exists,” she said. The legacy of the past and present of the Mondragon cooperative experience, capitalised through an inmense experience and knowledge accumulated during these years, offers the opportunity to share it through unique educational offers and research areas. While the rest of Spain struggled to maintain economic stability after the Great Recession of 2008, areas around Mondragon remained fairly unaffected. Power can assist us and we must guide it. The Mondragon cooperatives talk about social transformation, a more far-reaching, future-oriented goal that seeks the creation of social and economic systems that reinforce the best in human nature. The fundamental issues that are well addressed by cooperativism — a reduction in economic inequality and a better alignment of the interests of workers, owners and managers — are critical. The tour I took was organized and led by Georgia Kelly of the Praxis Peace Institute. Shortly afterwards, these cooperative members founded a credit institution to support the work of the cooperatives – and to help … The Experience. In 2011, the Basque Culinary Center was created and became part of Mondragon University. I find I have a deeper understanding of the limitations of the social justice approach as a viable platform for social change, as opposed to building the institutions that undergird economic transformation, like cooperative structures. Also at work, however, was the notion of the “tyranny of the majority.” In winner-take-all voting decisions, the will of the majority is imposed on all, including the dissenting minority. Although Mondragon offers numerous benefits through its distribution of wealth and power, the model is not entirely absent of inequities. I recently had the opportunity to visit Mondragon, Spain to immerse myself into the world of worker-cooperatives. In addition, the Mondragon cooperative system owns its own bank, university, social welfare agency, several business incubators, and a supermarket chain. In a cooperative, where the democratic process has a direct daily impact on people’s lives and livelihoods, the participation rate and level of thoughtfulness would be expected to be higher than in the more distant matters of representative government. At the time, the small town was plagued by mass unemployment and poverty. Finally, because these machines play a critical role in their customers’ production processes, they tend to compete on quality and reliability rather than price, and the customer necessity of maximizing “up-time” (that is, the time in which the machines are running properly and production is not halted) creates an important after-market service opportunity. The Mondragon Corporation has over 266 business and cooperatives, in 32 countries. Even with businesses they have acquired in Spain, an educational process must take place before assuming people are ready to be worker-owners. Mondragon Worker Cooperative Documentary (---Must Watch---) It's 50 minutes and incredibly interesting. The governance structures supporting that critical difference are the General Assembly and the Social Council. A case in point: “intercooperation” and the bankruptcy of Fagor Electrodomésticos. We heard (and read) many stories of economic crises and how the cooperatives, individually and collectively, weathered them. I was impressed in my reading by the complexity of the decisions worker-owners were asked to make, collectively, about salary adjustments, unemployment benefits, overtime pay, required capital inputs, retirement benefits, and a myriad of other issues. According to Michael Peck, North American delegate for Mondragon, “in the area of sustainability, where Mondragon cooperatives started with EU adhesion to the Kyoto Protocol starting in 1997 (something the U.S. never achieved), they have been very conscious of both sustainability practices as well as essential green industrial certifications (the EU versions of LEED) which they need in order to compete in global markets. Some were offered employment in CATA Electrodomésticos, the private sector enterprise that took over the assets of Fagor Electrodomésticos. The assumption of the dominant culture — reinforced by our current economic system — is that each of us is on our own, out for ourselves (and our immediate families), and that the pursuit of material rewards (including extraordinary rewards) is the primary motivation for our economic behavior. The Mondragon Cooperative Group, which is the 10th-largest entrepreneurial group in Spain, is one of the most outstanding examples of worker cooperatives in history (Mondragon Corporation, 2013). The Mondragon Corporation has over 266 business and cooperatives, in 32 countries. “It takes a tremendous re-educational effort to bring people into a culture that carries the responsibilities of running a business and sharing in a democratic process. Creating for Humanity is a massive call to action that invites social innovators to present ideas, solutions or start-ups that respond to the needs created by the health crisis Worker cooperative … This observation prompted some musings about different approaches to social change — specifically, the differences between the goals of social responsibility, social justice and social transformation. the Governing Council and Managing Director) and sometimes supporting the “workers” (i.e. Spain has since revised its position on coverage for worker-owners and Lagun Aro now provides benefits side by side with those offered by the government. Social justice movements tend to talk about social justice, by which they mean some sort of redress of past wrongs — whether that takes the form of backward-looking reparations or forward-looking policy adjustments. But then we can also be power ourselves. 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