In Spain, Italy, Argentina, and Cleveland and New York and even in the Boston area, workers have built their own businesses, worker-owned cooperatives. They raise money and determine among themselves how it will be spent. Every penny they make goes to wages, back into new products, or advanced research. No personal fortunes are amassed, no hedge-fund kings siphon off the proceeds into crazy stock ponzi schemes. These enterprises pay better, the jobs are more stable, and they produce cutting edge research and technology and often out-perform traditional for-profit competitors. And you can imagine, worker-owners don’t often vote to move their own jobs to China.
How do they do it? That’s what I hope to learn here in Mondragon. I am traveling with Tony Dunn, United Way Liason for the North Shore Labor Council and director of the E-Team in Lynn, and Elisha Goodman, an MIT student who is working with the unions and community groups of the New Lynn Project to investigate building worker-owned co-ops in Lynn. The United Steelworkers of America, after losing hundreds of thousands of good jobs, is targeting ten factories to build as worker co-ops in the U.S. in a partnership with Mondragon.