Economic Final - December 15, 2007 Geo 360 Final Essay Part...

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December 15, 2007 Geo 360 Final Essay Part I : Having heard about worker cooperatives and collectives in the past but never really educating myself on what they exactly were, I took great interest in learning about them this past semester. Out of all the coops that we read about, I was most interested in the Mondragón Cooperative Corporation. The MCC, one of the biggest, if not the very largest, worker cooperatives on the planet, is a an organization founded by five enterprising alumni of Father José María Arizmendiarrieta ’s school in the year 1956 in the Basque region of Spain comprised of industrial and trade units organized under a larger umbrella corporation. A key date in the MCC’s history centers around 1959, the year in which the Caja Laboral, or People’s Worker Bank, was established. The Caja is a credit union that gave members of the coop the opportunity to establish accounts and provided access to money set aside for new business ventures. The MCC expanded throughout the Basque region and across Spain this way, giving rise to new coops, including Danobat, Fagor Ederlan, and Fagor Electronica, and offering invitations and support to other companies to enter the coopertives. On the flip side of that coin, in times of economic distress, if a cooperative experiences problems, historically members have opted to lower wages rather than letting go workers, and if the problem worsens, members are sent to other cooperatives. Workers are also provided with housing, lower prices at the cooperatives’
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supermarket chain, Eroski, and access to health insurance/care and retirement options through Lagun Aro. The MCC also runs schools for members’ children and sends many pupils to study at Mondragon University (the genesis of which came from Father Arizmendiarrieta original school), so as to provide them with an adequate education so that they can enter the coop’s workforce upon completion of their studies. Today, almost five thousand students are enrolled in the University, founded in the last decade of the twentieth century. All of this has helped make the MCC the dominant economic force in the
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Economic Final - December 15, 2007 Geo 360 Final Essay Part...

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