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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

A Sampling of News and Opinion Regarding the Deal Between Mondragon and the United Steelworkers

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November 3, 2009
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Oct. 27, 2009: The United Steelworkers (USW) and MONDRAGON Internacional, S.A. today announced a framework agreement for collaboration in establishing MONDRAGON cooperatives in the manufacturing sector within the United States and Canada. USW International President Leo W. Gerard and Josu Ugarte, President of MONDGRAGON Internacional, signed an agreement of intent "to collaborate in the United States/Canada marketplace by adapting collective bargaining principles to the MONDRAGON cooperative model and worker ownership principles." 

The USW is North America's largest industrial union representing 1.2 million active and retired members. MONDRAGON currently has approximately 100,000 cooperative members in over 260 cooperative enterprises present in more than forty countries. 

The prospect of an alliance between this famous worker cooperative federation and a major US labor union has excited and intrigued worker-cooperators, co-op developers, and solidarity economy advocates everywhere.

The Mondragon/USW deal has inspired significant media coverage of worker co-ops: 

On Time magazine's website, Judith Schwartz reports on Cleveland's Evergreen worker co-op project, and the inspiration it draws from Mondragon. 

Nancy Folbre, economist from the University of Massachusetts, covers the Mondragon/USW deal in an article for her blog on the New York Times website, including a link to a prescient article from GEO friend Dan Bell on unions and worker co-ops, from a 2006 Dollars and Sense issue. 

Nancy also links to Econ-Utopia: Steelworkers and Mondragon Collaborate!, from Center for Popular Economics Executive Director and GEO friend Emily Kawano.

Nancy then follows up with a compelling, more general piece, "The Case for Worker Co-ops", and includes many useful links and references. 

Aaron Smith at CNN Money profiles six worker co-ops, including Isthmus Engineering in Madison, WI, and Ronin Tech Collective of Brattleboro, VT.

John Abrams, co-founder and CEO of worker co-op South Mountain Company and author
of "Companies We Keep", explores the ramifications of the deal in his blog.

handshake from

Earlier coverage: 

The United Steelworkers' press release

An PDF image of the signed agreement

John MacNamara of worker-owned Union Cab was on the conference call that accompanied the signing of the agreement. He was able to live-blog some of the Q&A - part one and part two.

On Friday, October 30th, 2009, worker co-op developers Andrew McLeod and Lisa Stolarski sat down with Rob Witherell, who is coordinating the plan for the Steelworkers, to discuss how the plan came about and what lies ahead. Andrew's blog has a synopsis of this discussion.

Carl Davidson covers response from the US activist community in a piece on

Andrew recently toured Mondragon and the surrounding area, and has written a wonderful four-part blog entry about his trip.

Conincidentally,  Bernard Marszalek of JASEcon wrote a thoughtful piece on the same day of the announcement, about the relevance of the Mondragon model to worker co-ops in the US. 

Please help us continue our coverage of this historic agreement - leave comments below, or email


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