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Could Co-Ops Solve Income Inequality?

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In the heart of Spain’s Basque country, the Mondragon Corporation—the world’s largest worker-owned co-operative business enterprise—has thrived, despite significant setbacks, for half a century.

Meanwhile, many other local economies around the world continually struggle with widening income inequality, an increasingly itinerant labor force, and employees’ declining emotional investment in their work. Might “the Mondragon model” offer some useful lessons about how to respond to economic crisis?

In this latest contribution to our series on “The Craft of Community,” our author — Roberto Lovato, a veteran of a co-operative himself — travels to Spain to check out his hunches. Then he heads to the urban blight of East Cleveland, Ohio, to see how the lessons of Mondragon might apply to some of the most intractable problems in America’s local economies.

Along the way, Roberto’s story, “Could Co-Ops Solve Income Inequality?” turns up plenty of surprises. Did you know, for instance, that most Americans think the CEO-to-worker pay ratio, if fair, should be 6 to 1, yet the average in the U.S. is actually 339 to 1, and the upper end surpasses 5,000 to 1?

Once you’ve given this valuable story a read, please share it widely with your colleagues, friends, and followers. Here at The Craftsmanship Initiative, we aim to not only bring you great, beautifully written tales like this one, but also to make a difference. And we can only do that with your help.