With over 60,000 members and a 14 billion euro revenue, Mondragon Corporation, founded by José María Arizmendiarrieta, is the world’s largest operating co-op. And guess what, the workers don’t have a boss! Well, there may be an organizational structure in place, however all workers will be rewarded with the same pay and rights. All workers still have a say in any business decisions to be made and the general day to day operation of the business. This is perhaps the biggest perk of a food cooperative business model – equal ownership and opportunity. The workers will usually also be able to purchase the products they sell at a heavily discounted price!
Co-ops operate as a not-for-profit business. So instead of any surplus profit landing straight in the boss’ sagging pocket, it is given back to the business and the members. The workers decide where the profits should go, whether that be in reducing the costs of products for their members or organizational maintenance of the business to ensure it runs at the highest degree of efficiency. Food Co-ops are a shining example of Lincoln’s coined phrase “For the people, by the people.”
No grumpy bosses and discounted groceries? It shouldn’t take much convincing!
Find your local food co-operative and get involved!
This post is inspired by a great NY Times article from March! Check it out here.