mondragon

Sustainability Worker Cooperatives 21st Century – Richmond Cooperative Experience

The City and community of Richmond California are actively researching and developing a sustainability worker cooperative project for the area: Richmond Community Cooperative Collaborative Group. The Mayor and community members visited Mondragon with the Praxis Peace Institute in the northern summer of 2010 and signed a memorandum.

Mondragon Permaculture | Mondragon Cooperative | Evergreen Cooperative | Mandela Cooperative


Fagor, Mondragon Cooperative, Photo Nicholas Roberts

A presentation written by Nicholas Roberts on the Richmond Cooperative Experience

A video and presentation by Marilyn Langlois and Mayor Gayle McLaughlin
http://www.vimeo.com/16355634

A proposal essay written by Nicholas Roberts on the Richmond Cooperative Experience

Mayor of Richmond and Mondragon Cooperative Letter of Intent and Endorsement

While researching a Permaculture Cooperative [blog] [video] in the summer of 2009 we visited Mondragon Cooperative [video] [photos] [blog] and enjoyed a day-tour of the cooperative, which included a factory tour and a lunch, history and business workshop. This video presentation includes an oral history from the days of the founder Don José María Arizmendiarrieta as the oldest farmers son and revolutionary journalist to the modern cooperative. Photos of the cooperative headquarters, the historical museum and the town of Arrasate.

Photo Credits: Kirstie Stramler and Nicholas Roberts

Mondragon boardroom

The oral history if given by Mikel Lezamiz who is the educational director of the Mondragon Cooperatives Corporation, the world’s largest consortium of worker-owned businesses located in the Basque Country of Northern Spain. Lezamiz is one of the most knowledgeable sources on the history and current operations of Mondragon’s 120 worker-owned businesses.

We went to Mondragon to research a Permaculture Cooperative: a global network of sustainability worker cooperatives. The Mondragon Permaculture.TV collection

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To jumpstart US job market, turn workers into owners
Many Americans build wealth through their home. Why not through work?

In hard times like these, the co-op model makes sense. After all, public confidence in corporations, banks, and the larger financial system is at low ebb, while unemployment is at its highest level in 25 years. Homeownership, historically a reliable way to build equity, has been rocked by foreclosures. People are looking for other ways to do business and save money.

Many people think of co-ops as the hippie-dippy grocery store that sells organic goods. In fact, a 2009 study by the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives found more than 29,000 cooperatives in the US, which make $500 billion in annual revenue, support 83,000 people, and pay $25 billion in wages and benefits. They include national firms such as credit unions, and local businesses such as the Alvarado Street Bakery in Petaluma, Calif., or the Evergreen Cooperative Laundry in Cleveland.

Source: Christian Science Monitor

Bringing Mondragon to America
by Chris Lindstrom on September 09, 2009

These core principles help provide the cooperative members with basic guidelines for working together in a cooperative environment, to commit themselves to personal development, teamwork, participatory management, joint projects, social entrepreneurialism, and finally, corporate excellence. The role of the Management Model is not just to make managers responsible for the success of their cooperative, but how to get workers to take on this responsibility and enthusiasm as well. It is not my impression that they have achieved this 100%, but I think that for an industrial community, they have perhaps set the highest standard for honoring worker rights than any other place in the world. However, this remains only to exist within the Basque region and has not spread in any major way to the multitude of companies that have come under MMC ownership in the past couple years.

The MCC claims that they are being very mindful of the environment by doing things such as reducing their carbon emissions in all of their cooperatives. While, in certain areas they were undoubtedly far ahead of countries such as the US, they were not quite as active in areas of sustainable agriculture. Agricultural production as a commercial sector simply was not as much of a priority as residential goods or the retail of non local food products. So it can be safely said that the MCC is by no means perfect. However, it provides one of the most sophisticated institutional examples of a truly egalitarian and socially just economic system.

Source: Economics of Peace

Mondragón and the United Steelworkers/ New opportunity for the co-op and labor movements?
B Y E R B I N C R O W E L L

Here in the U.S., we have sewn many of the seeds of such a cooperative economy. For example, food co-ops have been partners in the success of worker co-ops Equal Exchange and Alvarado Street Bakery. Food co-ops and others have created loan funds, such as the Cooperative Fund of New England and Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund, that support cross-sector co-op development. We have worker co-ops that have integrated union representation, such as Collective Copies, and examples of multi-stakeholder co-ops, such as Weaver Street Market and FEDCO Co-op Seeds, that bring workers and consumers together within a single enterprise. We have international management training programs such as the St. Mary’s University Master of Management: Co-operatives and Credit Unions, and cross-sector organizations such as the National Cooperative Business Association. And we have a growing awareness that “co-operation among co-ops” is not just a principle but a key competitive advantage.

In this context, the agreement signed by Mondragón and the United Steelworkers is much more than a piece of paper. For unions, it’s a new opportunity to explore the human and economic potential of cooperative ownership, rather than settling for adversarial relationships with capitalist enterprises. For worker co-ops, this may be an opening to deepen solidarity with organized labor through new and innovative structures. And for the cooperative movement as a whole, we have an opportunity to reassess our assumptions about the role of workers, the meaning of membership, and the potential for engaging employees in nonadversarial settings characterized by shared ownership.

Multi-stakeholder co-ops, highlighted by Mondragón’s astonishing success, would seem to offer a promising area for exploration among co-ops in the U.S. These structures contribute a uniquely cooperative approach to labor relations that would strengthen our competitive advantage in an increasingly challenging global economy.

Source: Cooperative Grocer

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Mondragon Permaculture with Bill Mollison

In the Mp3 audio of Bill Mollison 1983 PDC (Permaculture Designers Certificate) in Stanley,Tasmania (Geoff Lawton attended) that are available as DVD for sale and on the internet, Bill Mollison talks at length about the Mondragon Cooperative (along with Commonworks etc) as an organisational framework – a natural order of People Care and Fair Share for Earth Care that permaculture projects ought use.

I actually found and listened to these Mp3’s just before we went to Mondragon (such is life!). We really did Build The Road as We Travel (the only book on Mondragon that we saw on tour). Also, re-reading the Permaculture Designers Manual 1988 he has a couple of references again to Mondragon in the Alternative Nation section towards the end of the book.

Source: Permaculture.coop – Notes on Mondragon & Permaculture, GaiaPermaculture.com

Mondragon or Arrasate, the place in the Basque Country
Mondragon Cooperative

At the USSF2010 Mandela Marketplace‘s Quinton Sankofa and James Berk of Mandela Foods Cooperative presented to a workshop hosted by Permaculture.coop called Pathways to Sustainable Self-Governance. Other presenters included Gavin Raders of Planting Justice and Mike Leung of Worker Cooperative Credit Union.

Organised and facilitated by Kirstie Stramler, filmed by Patrick O’Conner for permaculture.coop


History of West Oakland and background for Mandela Marketplace & Mandela Foods Coop
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Quinton Sankofa explains the history of West Oakland and the context for the Mandela Marketplace.

West Oakland Today and the context of Mandela Marketplace
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James Berk and Quinton Sankofa describe West Oakland today and the context for the Mandela Foods Cooperative and Mandela Marketplace.

Challenges for Mandela Marketplace & Mandela Foods Coop
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James Berk and Quinton Sankofa describe CHALLENGES of the Mandela Foods Cooperative and Mandela Marketplace.

Community-led and controlled development
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Quinton Sankofa explains the Mandela Marketplace alternative for community-led or community controlled development

Successes
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James Berk and Quinton Sankofa describe SUCCESSES of the Mandela Foods Cooperative and Mandela Marketplace.

Financing Worker Cooperatives
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Quiton Sankofa describes some of the realities of financing worker cooperatives, Mike Leung of the pre-start Worker Cooperative Credit Union also describes the national situation and the exception Arizmendi Association of Coops

The Mayor of Richmond Gayle McLaughlin co-presents to community members a tour of Mondragon Cooperative in September and explains the possibilities of a new business model for Richmond

Tuesday evening public session

http://www.vimeo.com/15894226

Thursday afternoon public session

http://www.vimeo.com/15912704

External

Related

Industrial Symbiosis Kalundborg, Denmark
symbiosis

Pathways to Sustainable Self-Governance: Democratic Open-Source Food and Manufacturing Networks

Short Description

Worker Cooperative Networks for Sovereignty of Food, Commerce, & Community: Panel/Breakouts/Discussion to Envision & Chart Implementation Framework of Industrial Permaculture Ecology

Full Workshop Proposal

Pathways to Sustainable Self-Governance: Democratic Open-Source Food and Manufacturing Networks

Workshop Information
Event Date: Fri, 06/25/2010 – 3:30pm – 5:30pm
Event Location: Wayne County Community College: 23A

Full Description:

This workshop outlines a vision for a democratic, worker-owned, advanced industrial ecology society. We seek pathways to provide the burgeoning food education/justice movement with the tools to become economically sustainable, and to link the emerging green industrial worker cooperatives with them into sovereign networks. Once active, such networks can become the basis for sustainable, socially just communities that revitalize locales via open source sustainable agriculture and manufacturing methods. Our panel — with academic, commercial, and school of hard knocks experience — will frame the demonstrated solutions, numerous pieces of the puzzle that we as a society need to put together.

Pathways to Sustainable Self-Governance: Democratic Open-Source Food and Manufacturing Networks

Short Description

Worker Cooperative Networks for Sovereignty of Food, Commerce, & Community: Panel/Breakouts/Discussion to Envision & Chart Implementation Framework of Industrial Permaculture Ecology

Full Workshop Proposal

Pathways to Sustainable Self-Governance: Democratic Open-Source Food and Manufacturing Networks

Collaborating Organizations

Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives (2543) | Mandela Marketplace (2339) | Planting Justice (1407) | Mandela Foods Cooperative (2340) | Abolish Human Rentals (1460) | Permaculture Cooperative (1720)


Photo: Oakland Sol: Oakland Sustaining Ourselves Locally who generously provided accommodation, workspace and knowledge during incubation of this workshop

Collaborating Organizations

Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives (2543)

The Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives is itself a cooperative made up of five member businesses: four cooperative bakeries and a development and support collective. Members share a common mission, share ongoing accounting, legal, educational and other support services, and support the development of new member cooperatives by the Association. http://arizmendi.coop


Mandela Marketplace (2339)

Mandela Market Place is a pioneer in development, application and assessment of community food systems. The organization evolved since 2001, first as a project of the Environmental Justice Institute – Tides Center, until incorporating in 2005 as a stand-alone 501c3 organization with a goal to strengthen community health, integrity and indentity by providing economic opportunity and empowerment for inner-city Oakland residents and businesses, and local family farms. Mandela MarketPlace works directly with community residents, local, state and federal agencies, non-profits, small business owners, and farmers to support strategies to meet food needs, expand economic opportunity and increase self-reliance of low-income and disenfranchised people. http://mandelamarketplace.org


Planting Justice (1407)

Planting Justice is a non-profit organization based in Oakland, CA dedicated to food justice, economic justice, and sustainable local food systems. We are the first organization of our kind to combine ecological training and urban food production with a grassroots door-to-door organizing model that will vastly increase our educational community outreach, help us to recruit volunteers, decentralize our fundraising sources, and provide local jobs that also train young community organizers. http://www.plantingjustice.org


Mandela Foods Cooperative (2340)

Mandela Foods Cooperative is a locally-owned and operated full-service grocery store and nutrition education center located in West Oakland, a community long underserved in grocery retail. The present undersupply of food retail in West Oakland represents an opportunity to leverage untapped local buying power into new business and employment opportunities and healthy eating options for West Oakland residents. The Cooperative will offer local goods, wholesome, fresh and affordable foods grown on family farms, nutrition education classes and a cooperative economic investment program that provides multi-level investment for community residents. http://www.mandelafoods.com


Abolish Human Rentals (1460)

Abolish Human Rentals is dedicated to bringing an old idea into the public conscience, that the standard employment relationship, a contract for the rental of people, is invalid due to the inalienable rights of humans. It is based on the already widely held principle of the non-transferability of responsibility for one’s actions. That principle, taken to its logical conclusion, means the rental of humans have no more legitimacy than their sale. http://www.abolishhumanrentals.org


Collaborating Organizations:
Arizmendi Assn. of Cooperatives (2543) — http://arizmendi.coop — and
Mandela Marketplace (2339) — http://mandelamarketplace.org — and
Planting Justice (1407) — http://www.plantingjustice.org — and
Mandela Foods Cooperative (2340) — http://www.mandelafoods.com — and
Abolish Human Rentals (1460) — http://www.abolishhumanrentals.org

Language(s): English
Tracks:
Climate Justice: sustainability, resources and land
Democracy and Governance

Important pieces that will be presented here include the successful strategies employed in the worker cooperative networks/alliances of Mondragon, Ohio, and the San Francisco Bay Area, Permaculture design strategies implemented even in harsh climate zones, Denmark’s national industrial symbiosis program, non-parasitic capitalization of non-hierarchical enterprises, and regenerative urban food justice paradigms.

Participants will self-organize into groups to construct models that put some of the pieces together. Workshop participants will then seek to bolster viability of the proposed models, emphasizing possible pilot programs in Detroit, Oakland and in Brooklyn.

Panel members include Quinton Sankofa of Mandela Marketplace and James Berk of Mandela Foods Cooperative, Mike Leung of the embryonic Worker Cooperative Credit Union, and Gavin Raiders of Planting Justice. Facilitator: Kirstie Stramler of Permaculture Cooperative.

For updates leading up to USSF 2010, see the panel and workshop group pages on http://organize.ussf2010.org and videos on http://permaculture.tv/tag/ussf2010/ .

Organizer Name: Kirstie Stramler
Organizer Email: kirstie@permaculture.tv
First Sponsoring Organization Name: Permaculture Cooperative

From the Economics of Peace Conference, 2009.

More on Mondragon Cooperative, search Mondragon and Bill Mollison on Mondragon Permaculture

mondragon statue

Fred Freundlich and Mikel Lezamiz (Mondragon) PART 1 of 4 speaking at The Economics of Peace Conference in Sonoma Ca 2009 from The Economics Of Peace on Vimeo.

Fred Freundlich and Mikel Lezamiz (Mondragon) PART 2 of 4 speaking at The Economics of Peace Conference in Sonoma Ca 2009 from The Economics Of Peace on Vimeo.

Fred Freundlich and Mikel Lezamiz (Mondragon) PART 3 of 4 speaking at The Economics of Peace Conference in Sonoma Ca 2009 from The Economics Of Peace on Vimeo.

Fred Freundlich and Mikel Lezamiz (Mondragon) PART 4 of 4 speaking at The Economics of Peace Conference in Sonoma Ca 2009 from The Economics Of Peace on Vimeo.

Fred Freundlich (left) teaches at Mondragon Universtiy in Spain. He is a doctoral candidate at the Graduate School of Education, Harvard University, where his dissertation research is a new university initiative affiliated with the Mondragn Cooperative Corporation. Freundlich is a senior principal of Ownership Associates.

Mikel Lezamiz (right) is the educational director of the Mondragon Cooperatives Corporation, the world’s largest consortium of worker-owned businesses located in the Basque Country of Northern Spain. He helped organize Praxis Peace Institute’s 5-day seminar at the MCC headquarters in the fall of 2008. Lezamiz is one of the most knowledgeable sources on the history and current operations of Mondragon’s 120 worker-owned businesses.

The Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development and the Mondragon Experience and Social Entrepreneurship

Source: Sweden, Blekinge Institute of Technology, Nov 2009

Video Source: Green4All

Green Worker Cooperatives, South Bronx

GREEN WORKER COOPERATIVES is a South Bronx-based organization dedicated to incubating worker-owned and environmentally friendly cooperatives in the South Bronx. Our approach is a response to high unemployment and decades of environmental racism. We don’t have the luxury to wait for new alternatives. That’s why we’re creating them. We believe that in order to address our environmental and economic problems we need new ways to earn a living that don’t require polluting the earth or exploiting human labor.

Building an alternative green economy in the South Bronx is not a solo endeavor. Help support our work today by making a donation. All donations are tax-deductible and should be made out to Green Worker, Inc.

Source: Green Worker Cooperatives

This organic grocery store in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada is a thriving business with no bosses at all! Find out what they like about being a worker co-op and how the joys and sacrifices make every day worthwhile.

Source: Organic Planet Worker Coop

The Case for Worker Co-ops

Nancy Folbre is an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

CNN Money recently profiled six worker-run businesses including Pelham Auto, whose mechanics have cheerfully fixed every car I’ve owned for the past 20 years.

When the times get tough, the tough form co-ops.

The upscale Colors restaurant in New York City was founded by workers who lost their jobs when the 9/11 attacks destroyed their previous site of employment in the north tower of the World Trade Tower.

Co-op determination isn’t limited to big cities and college towns. In Cleveland, community activists and politicians have rallied support for several new cooperative ventures to help create local jobs.

But we shouldn’t rely on anecdotes, videos or wishful thinking. What does economic research tell us?

Not nearly as much as this economist would like to hear. As an organizational form, worker-owned and -managed companies are largely ignored in economics textbooks. Still, research by Richard Freeman, Henry Hansmann, Douglas Kruse, John Pencavel, Louis Putterman and others has informed my thinking on the issue.

Source: NYTimes Blogs

The Evergreen Cooperatives of Cleveland, Ohio are pioneering innovative models of job creation, wealth building, and sustainability. Evergreen’s employee-owned, for-profit companies are based locally and hire locally. We create meaningful green jobs and keep precious financial resources within our community. Our workers earn a living wage and build equity in their firms as owners of the business.

The first Evergreen Cooperative businesses – Evergreen Cooperative Laundry, Ohio Cooperative Solar, and Green City Growers Cooperative – are launching in 2009–2010. Watch the video.

Evergreen is a partnership between the residents of six of our city’s neighborhoods and some of Cleveland’s most important “anchor institutions” – the Cleveland Foundation, the City of Cleveland, Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, and many others. Help us build community wealth to transform Cleveland and change lives.

Support the growing network of Evergreen Cooperatives. Together, we can transform our community.

Source: Evergreen Cooperatives

MONDRAGON Corporation 2009 from MONDRAGON Corporation on Vimeo.

Source: CoopsEurope, Mondragon.coop

Workers of the World, Incorporate

Nancy Folbre is an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

On Oct. 27, the United Steelworkers announced an agreement with Mondragon International to move toward establishment of manufacturing cooperatives in the United States and Canada.

Maybe this agreement represents a symbolic gesture that will not generate any significant economic benefits. Maybe it represents a step in the evolution of a new institutional form for the modern manufacturing firm.

It certainly represents a new direction for the American labor movement.

With almost 100,000 workers, the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation (M.C.C.) is the seventh largest business group in Spain and the world’s largest workers’ cooperative. Its diverse enterprises, including manufacturing firms, a university, retail shops and financial institutions, are not only worker-owned; they are also democratically managed on the principle of one worker, one vote.

And worker ownership represents an alternative to ineffectual collective bargaining.

The United Steelworkers’ leadership has long been critical of business as usual in the United States. The union helped found a Blue-Green Alliance in collaboration with the Sierra Club and other environmental groups, and strongly supports greater public spending on energy conservation and sustainable energy technology.

The proposed Mondragon collaboration grew out of a United Steelworkers partnership with a Spanish wind turbine firm, Gamesa, to refit steel plants in Pennsylvania for wind-turbine manufacture. Mondragon could provide the organizational expertise and help raise the venture capital necessary to expand such initiatives.

Expansion of worker-owned enterprises could potentially increase the demand for skilled manufacturing workers in so-called “green jobs.”

Source: NYTimes Blogs

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