Archive for March, 2012

Restoring Worker Equity in the U.S. Economy | Blue-Green Blog

By Brian Lombardozzi

In Pittsburgh, PA, on March 26, 2012, BlueGreen Alliance founding members the United Steelworkers (USW), together with the global worker industrial cooperative leader Mondragon International, S.A. and the Ohio Employee Ownership Center (OEOC) announced a new union co-op model for organizations wanting to combine worker equity with a progressive collective bargaining process. This template was created as a follow up to the original USW-Mondragon framework agreement launched in October 2009, in which the parties agreed to establish Mondragon-like industrial manufacturing cooperatives that adopt collective bargaining principles of the “one worker, one vote” ownership model within the United States and Canada.

“To survive the boom and bust, bubble-driven economic cycles fueled by Wall Street, we must look for new ways to create and sustain good jobs on Main Street,” urged Leo W. Gerard, USW International President. “This union co-op model, created through our partnership with Mondragon and with the assistance of the OEOC, provides a viable road map on how we might begin fielding these sustainable jobs. Worker ownership can provide the opportunity to figure out collective alternatives to layoffs, bankruptcies, and closings in hard times, rather than having the rug pulled right out from under struggling communities to the benefit of a few at the expense of the many.”

Read the post from the Blue-Green Blog here

Worker Ownership For the 21st Century? | The Nation

By Laura Flanders
It may not be the revolution’s dawn, but it’s certainly a glint in the darkness. On Monday, this country’s largest industrial labor union teamed up with the world’s largest worker-cooperative to present a plan that would put people to work in labor-driven enterprises that build worker power and communities, too.

Titled “Sustainable Jobs, Sustainable Communities: The Union Co-op Model,” the organizational proposal released at a press conference on March 26 in Pittsburgh, draws on the fifty-five year experience of the Basque-based Mondragon worker cooperatives. To quote the document:

“In contrast to a Machiavellian economic system in which the ends justify any means, the union co-op model embraces the idea that both the ends and means are equally important, meaning that treating workers well and with dignity and sustaining communities are just as important as business growth and profitability.”

It might not sound like big news to members of their local food coop but it’s revolutionary stuff in the context of industrial production. The United Steelworkers represents some 1.2 million members; the average steel plant requires millions of dollars of investment, and there’s history here when it comes to worker ownership—some of it painful.

Read the entire article from The Nation here.

Mondragon: Collective approach pays big dividends | Financial Times

By Miles Johnson

In a world where bankers and executives often argue that high pay is directly correlated with success and talent, Mondragon, the Basque workers co-operative, is proud to offer an alternative model.

Founded in 1956, with its roots in a technical college set up by a Catholic priest, the Mondragon Corporation is one of Spain’s top 10 largest companies by sales, with worker-owned businesses including the Eroski supermarket chain, banking, electrical domestic products and car parts manufacturing.

José María Aldecoa, Mondragon’s chairman, earns no more than eight times that of the lowest paid workers within the co-operative, making him probably one of Europe’s lowest paid corporate leaders weighted against sales.

At the same time, more than 90 per cent of Mondragon’s collective workers have salaries that are the same, or higher, than those working in equivalent companies.

Read the entire Special Report from the Financial Times here.

The New “Union Co-op” Model | Gar Alperovitz

From Gar Alperovitz’s blog:

The new model for a “union co-op,” one which combines principles of worker ownership and labor solidarity—jointly announced by the United Steelworkers, the Ohio Employee Ownership Center and Mondragón on March 26, 2012—represents a major and positive historic advance in community wealth-building. Their work is helping to forge the building blocks of a new economy.

The late John Logue, who founded the Ohio Employee Ownership Center, would have been thrilled by this news. John long viewed cooperative worker ownership as a critical tool to defend workers against the ravages of a globalized economy.

The proposed model, however, does more than establish worker ownership. The involvement of the Steelworkers revives the American tradition of union participation in cooperatives, which began with the Knights of Labor more than a century ago. At Mondragón co-ops, a “social council” makes sure that the “primacy of labor” so central to their values is in fact honored in practice. Here the Steelworkers union will play this crucial role, repurposing the traditional collective bargaining agreement in a new framework, one designed not around conflict, but around balancing the imperatives in a cooperatively owned workplace.

Read the full blog post here.

Worker Ownership for the 99%

The United Steelworkers, Mondragon, and the Ohio Employee Ownership Center Announce a New Union Cooperative Model to Reinsert Worker Equity Back into the U.S. Economy

Pittsburgh (March 26, 2012) – Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers (USW), together with representatives from Mondragon International, S.A., the global worker industrial cooperative leader, and the Ohio Employee Ownership Center (OEOC), announced today that a new “union co-op” model template is available for organizations wanting to combine worker equity with a progressive collective bargaining process.  This template was created as follow up to the original USW-Mondragon framework agreement launched in October 2009 to collaborate in establishing Mondragon-like industrial manufacturing cooperatives that adopt collective bargaining principles to the Mondragon worker ownership model of “one worker, one vote” within the United States and Canada.

Titled “Sustainable Jobs, Sustainable Communities: The Union Co-op Model”, this new public domain template (available at www.usw.coop and www.union.coop) offers a road-map primer for competitive and equitable employment creation based on fifty-five years of Mondragon principles put into marketplace practice. (more…)

Inequality Undermines Democracy | New York Times

By Eduardo Porter

Americans have never been too worried about the income gap. The gap between the rich and the rest has been much wider in the United States than in other developed nations for decades. Still, polls show we are much less concerned about it than people in those other nations are.

Read the article from the New York Times.

MUPPETEERED

Whether acting in or out as Miss Piggy, Big Bird, Oscar, the Cookie Monster, Kermit the Frog, Animal, Gonzo the Great or Fozzie Bear, according to Goldman Sachs, we, the 99%, are all Muppets in waiting. Those pulling our strings in the name of their own unalienable rights to unearthly wealth creation at our working class expense should be sued by Jim Henson from his grave for breach of contract with the cultural heartbeat and soul of a country that is still a great deal more than the sum of its markets. (more…)

Why Some Countries Go Bust | New York Times Magazine

By Adam Davidson

By his own admission, Daron Acemoglu is a slightly pudgy and fairly nerdy guy with an unpronounceable last name. But when I mentioned that I was interviewing him to two econ buffs, they each gasped and said, “I love Daron Acemoglu,” as if I were talking about Keith Richards. The Turkish M.I.T. professor — who, right now, is about as hot as economists get — acquired his renown for serious advances in answering the single most important question in his profession, the same one that compelled Adam Smith to write “The Wealth of Nations”: why are some countries rich while others are poor?

Read Adam Davidson’s article from the New York Times Magazine here.

Reasons to Believe

There is a new heartland heartbeat of hope and inspiration making its way across America providing freedom, sustenance, fulfillment, sustainable progress and community-recycled profits. Following English 101 guidance where our teachers taught it was far better to “show, not tell;” actual place-based economic models are starting to transform foreclosed, outsourced and “creatively destroyed” industrial and residential wastelands. Showing through working mainstream bipartisan parables instead of broadcasting via predictable and disheartening partisan political discourse, a new American reality is emerging just below the surface of decay, abandonment and despair where the eye that sees comes up short against the entrepreneurial mind that perceives and acts while the working class soul prospers.

We need to see, touch, and feel what’s possible, to immunize ourselves against the campaign “Super Pac” induced message viruses coming our way. Trapped by “the worst politics money can buy,” anonymously-funded campaign sloganeering turns the pros and cons of vulture versus virtuous versus crony capitalism practices and excuses into a futile and infertile debate. We only know what’s real in our lives, what we aspire to and how we have no choice but to calibrate and try to heal the suffering at home, next door and down the street. Surrounded by decades of premeditated economic devastation that grows stagnant ugliness as an annual metropolitan and rural mutant harvest, we need reasons to believe, reasons to transform moral hazard (over the top risks without bearing any consequences) into stakeholder “friends with benefits.”

While still micro-sited and not yet everywhere, and without falling into the delusional narcissistic trap of wishful thinking, there is a whole new economy struggling under America’s crusty, polarized skin, trying to break free and go to scale. (more…)

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