US Steelworkers and Mondragon: An Australian Response

My FaceBook response to the US Steelworkers/Mondragon Agreement announcement was as follows:

This is incomparably the most exciting positive news story I've seen in a very long time. The massive complex of worker-owned manufacturing, retail, financial and civil engineering co-operatives at Mondragon in the Basque region of Spain is reflective of an integrated industrial and political philosophy that has lessons for all of us, not least here in Australia. My 1999 book 'Jobs of Our Own: Building a Stakeholder Society' - long since sold out its Australian and European editions and only very recently back in print in a US Distributist Review Press edition that's available through - is about where the ideas behind Mondragon came from, how the system works and the reasons for its stunning success. And I'm currently writing about how something similar might have been achieved in Australia, and why it didn't happen. Is it too much to hope that, now the US Steelworkers have shown the way, individual unions, Trades and Labour Councils and the Australian Council of Trade Unions will sit up and take notice? And might not Kim Carr, Martin Ferguson and other federal Ministers detour in the course of their overseas travel for a visit to Mondragon, and see for themselves what it has to offer us?


Tom Laney Saturday, October 31, 2009 at 9:32:00 AM CDT  

I am happy you see the significance of this USW/Mondragon partnership Race!

It is certainly a breakthrough here in America and we will do our best to confront the UAW as to why it is not following the USW's lead?

The USW now has 1.2 million members and probably the highest capital resources in the U.S. and Canada. This agreement could be the beginnng of a New Solidarity Movement in N. America.

My one concern was that the agreement says the parties will consider establishing the USW Bargaining Committee in the place of Mondragon's Social Committes.

I have been assured by the USW that the Bargaining Committee language means the elected Local Union Bargaining Committees so that would be the same setup at Mondragon's Social Committees.

I have been a Trade Unionist for a long, long time. This partnership is the best news of my TU life!

Anonymous,  Sunday, November 1, 2009 at 5:50:00 AM CST  

I only hope you realize the Mondragón cooperative/system is part of the ETA (a Basque marxist-leninist terrorist organization). Without this fact everything may be distorted.

Rafael Castela Santos

John Médaille Sunday, November 1, 2009 at 8:37:00 AM CST  

Mr. Santos provides an interesting argument, that has interesting implications for Spain and the world. He offers no evidence, but let us assume that what he says is true. Then 3% of the Spanish economy is dependent on terrorists, who employ some 80,000 Basques. This doesn't bode well for the future of Spain.

Of course, none of that is true, but if Mr. Santos has some actual evidence, I would be happy to consider it. But I take it as a sign of just how much fear the capitalists have for enterprises like Mondragon. And they are right to fear it, for it raises a serious and practical challenge to the dogmas of capitalism.

Anonymous,  Monday, November 2, 2009 at 8:02:00 AM CST  

America, if one were to truly look at our history, has imposed nad supported terror...does this imply a American male working as a steel worker is automatically a terrorist?

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