A Big Day in Pittsburgh

For those of you who may not get the emails, the long awaited announcement by the USW and Mondragon will be made at 11:00 am EDT in Pittsburgh, PA. I haven’t really heard much about this project other than it will involve a modern industrial operation that will blend the concepts of worker ownership and collective bargaining.

I know a few of the people that have been part of an advisory group that will only say that this is a very incredible project. Unfortunately, the press conference is not be web cast (they cited the cost, but it seems that some form of a web cast could have happened with GoTo Meeting or other software). In any event, the press conference will be recorded and loaded up to Youtube–so you my want to keep an eye out for it this week.

I can’t wait to learn the details. For no other reason than this will shape my dissertation; however, I see this as ushering in a new form of worker cooperation. In the US, we already have the traditional model of the US Federation member coops (collectives and hierarchies), we have the WAGES model that focuses on specific socio-economic groups, and  then there is the Cleveland Model. The Mondragon-USW will be yet another way of figuring out worker cooperation. The difference is that it will be teaming with the traditional industrial union movement from the design stage and not as an after thought (see Cooperative Home Care NY). It will be interesting to see how the labour union interacts with the principles of cooperation. Will “managers” be excluded from collective bargaining? Will managers be excluded from co-operative membership? If the answers are “yes”, what will this mean in terms of Agency? If the answer is “no”, then how will the collective bargaining work?

Today is an exciting day in the history of worker ownership–stay tuned!


About John McNamara

John spent 26 years with Union Cab of Madison Cooperative and currently helps develop co-ops in the Pacific Northwest. He holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration and Masters in Management: Co-operatives and Credit Unions from Saint Mary's University.
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