Attorney at Law Specializing in employee ownership and cooperatives
Attorney at Law
Specializing in employee ownership and cooperatives
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The Mondragon Cooperative Corporation (MCC) began 50 years ago when the Basques were on the losing side of the Spanish Civil War. Their capital city, Guernika, had been leveled by Franco and their language was banned. Their children were leaving. They had lived in the mountains around Mondragon for 1000 years. A Basque priest, who had studied the distributist teachings of the Catholic Church, began to teach classes on self-management of businesses and worked with the community to create an industrial school.
Emilia Romagna is a diverse group of 8,000 cooperatives and family owned businesses that collaborate with each other in the Emilia Romagna region of Northern Italy. Their collaboration enables groups of small companies to jointly compete for large jobs that none of them could do alone. Their collaboration is aided by regional government supported business resource centers.
Southwest Detroit Construction Cooperative (SWDCC), Painting and Plastering and Janitorial Cooperatives – to be sustainable most (but especially inner-city) worker co-ops need a supporting joint business resource or community support organization. That is why the Mondragon, Emilia Romagna, Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, WAGES and the Arizmendi Co-ops in Berkley have all created mutual support organizations for back office and business development functions. SWDCC’s story explains why that is.
Unprofitable subsidiaries are often offered for sale to employees. Employees should approach such opportunities with care and predicate their actions on feasibility studies conducted by skilled consultants who know when to say no to a bad idea. The feasibility and success of the Franklin Forge worker buyout depended on a number of factors including strength and skill of both the workers and management, the community's need for ht plant, the fact that the workers initiated the buyout, and the parent corporations' motivation to sell at a low price and make the deal work.
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