Are worker cooperatives the way of the future?
I had heard of worker cooperatives and know that there are some in the U.S. To learn a little more I read this article focusing on the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation in the Basque country in Spain, the largest such cooperative. The article is a bit long but rather well written.
Amid all the news of the dwindling of the middle class and of the dying of the labor movement, it is reassuring to know that there is an alternative.
At Mondragon, workers have to buy into the company, though they are permitted to do so over an extended period of time. There is a six month trial period after which a person becomes an owner/worker for life. Every worker gets a share of company profits and a single vote on choosing management and determining pay scale. At the various Mondragon facilities, the average ratio between top management pay and minimum wage is about 5 to 1. It is not quite socialism as envisioned by Marx, but neither is it capitalism in the usual sense.
Worker cooperatives are not going to become a major factor any time soon, but I can envision them eventually taking hold. They are particularly well suited to a service based economy.