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Taking Questions now. . . .

Here is the
US Steelworkers Announcement. You can also download the text of the agreement.

Aims to attract and maintain good industrial jobs. Talks about the strength of co-ops in Canada and the US and the role that the steelworkers interact with them (mainly in Labrador). He looks forward to their relationship.
No plans yet to start a cooperative, but have agreed to create the hybrid plans that will provide the basis for governance.

Bonnie Richly from Cleveland, OH—Tell us more about the Hybrid model? How extensive will the model be adapted? What parts of MCC won’t fit?

Gerard—one person, one vote and relationship in compensation are two important features. We know that we don’t have all the answers off the bat, but will explore how they will work. The MCC Social Council equivalent will be the collective bargaining committee. It is too early to know how extensive it will be. We are also working with the largest UK labor union to form Workers Uniting.

Hazel Corcoran, CFWC—how does this work with the existing worker cooperative organizations? Is there a role for the established movement?

Gerard—discussed about the substantial number of existing worker cooperatives. I’m excited that there is experience in Canada to work with. Look forward to working with organizations. Start of a collaboration that we hope will grow to protect and grow manufacturing.

Adam Schwartz, NCBA—asks about what resources will be needed to help bring this sector into “the mainstream” ?

Gerard—for us, two things: 1) continue to explore and learn from each other as allies 2) look for opportunity. Looking for opportunity to convert existing workplace or develop one using existing infrastructure. Refers to Algoma Steel (an ESOP), which lacked the access to capital. Gearing up now to prepare for being able to recognize and take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves.

The Wall Street model isn't working. They've looted the Treasury and small businesses are feeling the lack of capital. For us, it is never too late to explore creating a new economic model. The Steelworkers have already learned about building movements through the Blue-Green Alliance (an alliance between the Steelworkers and the Sierra Club) Now sure where this is going, but only good can come from it.

Statement from Josu Ugarte from MCC, Int'l:

We are very pleased to participate in this new effort. This is a first: combining the world's largest worker coop with one of the world's largest and most progressive industrial labor unions. Founded on the values of worker collaboration and working for the common good. We believe in the principles of worker solidarity and ownership and believe that these principles are the basis of our success.

He gives a brief description of Mondragon--see previous posts for more details.

Mondragon has been in the US, quietly, for many years. They have a bicycle manufacturing plant and other offices. They have come to appreciate the strong co-op movement in the US. They expect that their new partnership will grow the industrial base of the US and Canada and create sustainable jobs and industries in both countries. The collaboration intends to demonstrate how worker ownership can be highly effective. We intend to present this new social industrial framework to the NA economy. It is a major step forward in MCC's NA visibility and it is part of the Steelworker's progressive vision.

Thank you for your interest.

NCBA--What is the timeline or are their certain goals? Is this the beginning stage? Are they thresholds for number of plants, workers, etc.

Gerard--this is an exercise that is hard to predict at this point. We are looking for opportunities and continue to educate each other. We aren't just creating another social club. We want a real workplace sometime very soon. Wants to be cautious and do the first one very well. Premature to put time lines and objectives out there. It will be a better model than the one where Wall Street picks our pockets. The Bush "ownership society" was where the workers owned the risk and the bosses owned the profit. We expect a better model. We see Mondragon with a commitment to quality and long-term growth.

Bonnie from Cleveland--how can those that support these efforts help?

Gerard--this is thinking out loud: give us (MCC and USW) some time to work together and then we will call a meeting for friends and allies. Probably won't be until next Spring.

[[We need these folks at the SF Democracy at Work Conference]]

Adam (Collective Copies and VAWC)--offers support as a coop and union member (UE)

Erbin Crowell--(YAY!, he mentions St. Mary's Program) : This will help us get back to the roots of the worker coop and labor movement.

Conference ends as Gerard has to go to the Executive Meeting.

I have to go to--hopefully people can fill in what I missed.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 29th, 2009 01:53 am (UTC)
very interesting
. . . i wonder what the effect of this might be on, say, Union Cab or, say Isthmus Engineering?

Oct. 29th, 2009 02:47 am (UTC)
Re: very interesting
I think that this could really change the US economy quickly. For worker co-ops, I can see where the Mondragon/USW model could quickly become "the model" and some backlash/resistance to that.

For Union, it would give us a chance to see how a social committee (as used by MCC) might work in a US culture. Also, if Mondragon were to bring US Co-ops into their Social Security setting, it could also be a game changer on health insurance, unemployment and host of other things.

Nov. 8th, 2009 01:47 pm (UTC)
This is truly terrific news! This is the biggest Solidarity breakthrough in my long -and mostly painful - Labor life!
I had given up on the Steelworkers just as I had given up on all the big and corporate unions that seem to have had no regard whatever for not only their own members but the 37 million Americans in poverty.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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