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Mondragón and the Other Fr. José María

Mondragon Corp

Elias Crim - published on 02/23/14

Wait till the shareholders know about this! No, wait: that’s right — employees are the shareholders. We can do what we want!

9. Universal nature. Our company proclaims its solidarity with other cooperative movements, with those working for economic democracy and with those who champion the objectives of peace, justice, and human dignity. We proclaim our solidarity especially with people in developing countries.

Solidarity? Is this some kinda socialist thing? But where does the government come in? I don’t see it anywhere.

10. Education. Our cooperatives commit the required human and economic resources to basic, professional, and cooperative education in order to have worker-owners capable of applying all basic principles mentioned above.

So everybody gets groomed to advance in the company. Imagine that.

These principles, as the reader may have guessed, are the ones actually used currently by MCC. Their influence has reached the U.S., notably in two different recent connections.

First, the United Steelworkers (USW) have evolved beyond an earlier suspicion of schemes of employee ownership to a new collaboration with the Mondragon model, one which could put their 1.2 million members on a different path, one toward something called union coops. We’re talking about nothing less than looking past the classic labor/management standoff toward a new vision of collaboration here.

Second, in inner-city Cleveland, a consortium of startup co-op businesses (called the Evergreen Cooperatives) are taking the Mondragon model and using it to create worker-owner jobs for ex-offenders in a variety of new companies.

Neither the USW nor the Evergreen Cooperatives are Catholic organizations, of course. Yet are these projects (and others, such as the Economy of Communion network) not testimony to the applicability of Catholic social teachings to the real world?

So another Catholic paradox here: It is our recent popes who, in their references to these kinds of principles and projects, have the genuine worldly wisdom here and not their talking-head critics on cable television or radio. It is they who are in touch with the real world of business, especially those areas in which the human person has a chance of thriving.

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