Traditionally, organized labor in the United States has been opposed to worker self-management and other forms of noncapitalism that fall outside the traditional worker-management bargaining model. However, Dollars & Sense has recently reported that the United Steelworkers have signed a framework agreement for collaboration in establishing Mondragón cooperatives in the manufacturing sector within the United States and Canada.
“We see today’s agreement as a historic first step towards making union co-ops a viable business model that can create good jobs, empower workers, and support communities in the United States and Canada,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. “Too often we have seen Wall Street hollow out companies by draining their cash and assets and hollowing out communities by shedding jobs and shuttering plants. We need a new business model that invests in workers and invests in communities.”
Josu Ugarte, President of Mondragón Internacional added: “What we are announcing today represents a historic first—combining the world’s largest industrial worker cooperative with one of the world’s most progressive and forward-thinking manufacturing unions to work together so that our combined know-how and complimentary visions can transform manufacturing practices in North America.”
According to Bernard Marszalek, delegates to the national AFL-CIO meeting were also receptive to the Mondragón idea:
I will end with one story that Michael Moore tells about his worried anticipation when the section from Capitalism: A Love Story on worker cooperatives was shown at the AFL-CIO convention. He braced for, at best, a bitter silence and, at worst, a vocal guffawing when a hall full of union members saw workers in his film expressing their satisfaction with jobs they controlled through their cooperative, democratic structures. The response from the audience was rousingly positive. Loud applause and cheers.