Tuesday, July 27, 2010

German automative manufacturer sells to Mondragon

A Mondragon cooperative has agreed to buy the last remaining facility operated by insolvent German automotive manufacturer AKsys.

The plant in Peine, Germany was bought by FPK sa (Zamudio / Spain), which itself belongs to Batz lightweight technologies, PlastEurope reports.

As a result of the sale, some 100 of the jobs in Peine will be secured, although the insolvency administrator said several positions also had to be shed.

Batz-FPK is part of Mondragon. In April this year, the cooperative had acquired the 50% share AKsys formerly held in the FPK joint venture. Mondragon consists of four divisions: finance, industry, trade and intelligence.

For the last 50 years, the Batz affiliate has been developing and manufacturing wheel changing modules and systems, modular pedal systems, hand break components and metallic structural parts. FPK in turn delivers function-oriented structural components made predominantly of reinforced plastics.

Oskar Goitia, CEO of Mondragon’s automotive division, said a particularly important addition for his cooperative was the know-how of the workers in Peine, as well as the processing technologies, the products and the customers.

“This takeover will strengthen our position in Germany”, he added.


Last German plant sold to Basque Mondragon group (PlastEurope)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mondragon and the economic meltdown

The current economic crisis will not have been in vain if the world is reminded that grass roots initiative can triumph even over seemingly overwhelming adversity. In the aftermath of the devastation of the Basque region of Spain in the Spanish Civil War, a young priest, Don Jose Maria Arizmendiarrieta, himself only recently released from concentration camp confinement and narrowly spared imminent execution, was sent by his bishop in 1941 to the small steel industry town of Mondragon.

It was here over the subsequent decade and a half that he through painstaking pastoral care, grassroots organization, community development, consciousness-raising and technical education laid secure foundations for the great complex of some 260 worker-owned industrial, retail, agricultural, construction, service and support co-operatives and associated entities that the world now knows as the Mondragon Co-operative Corporation.

From a standing start in 1956, the MCC has grown to the point where by mid-2008 it was the seventh largest business group in Spain. Annual sales increased between 2006 and 2007 by 12.4 per cent to some $US20 billion, and overall employment by 24 per cent, from 83,601 to 103,731. Exports accounted for 56.9 per cent of industrial co-operative sales, and were up in value by 8.6 per cent. Mondragon co-operatives now own or joint venture some 114 local and overseas subsidiaries.

Hard-hit by the economic meltdown as like other business the co-operatives now find themselves, their members are tightening their belts in a further exercise of the solidarity that has enabled them to weather previous major downturns, and achieve new heights. For example, in 2008 worker owners at the Fagor appliance co-operative elected to forego the additional four-week's pay normally due to them over the Christmas period, and have subsequently cut their pay by eight per cent. As the MCC's Human Resources Director, Mikel Zabala, points out, "We are private companies that work in the same market as everybody else. We are exposed to the same conditions as our competitors". What then are the attributes to which Mondragon owes its remarkable success?

- Dr Race Mathews

Full article @ The Distributist Review

Monday, July 5, 2010

US Steelworkers Union sign agreement with Mondragon

In a landmark agreement, the US United Steelworkers Union and MONDRAGON Internacional, S.A. have announced a framework agreement for collaboration in establishing MONDRAGON cooperatives in the manufacturing sector within the United States and Canada.
The USW and MONDRAGON will work to establish manufacturing cooperatives that adapt collective bargaining principles to the MONDRAGON worker ownership model of “one worker, one vote,” Prosperity Agenda reports. 

“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 MONDGRAGON 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.”

Highlighting the differences between Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) and union co-ops, Gerard said, “We have lots of experience with ESOPs, but have found that it doesn’t take long for the Wall Street types to push workers aside and take back control. We see Mondragon’s cooperative model with ‘one worker, one vote’ ownership as a means to re-empower workers and make business accountable to Main Street instead of Wall Street.”

Both the USW and MONDRAGON emphasized the shared values that will drive this collaboration. Mr. Ugarte commented, “We feel inspired to take this step based on our common set of values with the Steelworkers who have proved time and again that the future belongs to those who connect vision and values to people and put all three first. We are excited about working with Mondragon because of our shared values, that work should empower workers and sustain families and communities,” Gerard added.

In the coming months, the USW and MONDRAGON will seek opportunities to implement this union co-op hybrid approach by sharing the common values put forward by the USW and MONDGRAGON and by operating in similar manufacturing segments in which both the USW and MONDRAGON already participate.


Steelworkers Form Collaboration with MONDRAGON, the World’s Largest Worker-Owned Cooperative (Prosperity Agenda)