From Christian Democracy:
Unions may eventually go the way of the horse and buggy, or they might find ways to serve their membership through an alliance with other movements. Cooperatives may provide a vital ally for democratizing the American workplace and working toward a society with more equality and solidarity. Cooperatives are businesses in which the employees manage the affairs of the organization themselves (or in some cases elect their peers to oversee it) and share in the profits. Cooperatives are truly democratic compared to traditional American corporations and even small businesses because the workers, as owners, usually pool their money with other employees. Having “skin in the game” means that members of a cooperative usually have higher morale than wage or salaried employees elsewhere since they can realize greater gains if they succeed and have a greater opportunity for a real say in the co-op’s direction. Similar to unions, cooperatives attempt to raise the fortunes of all its members.
The first major flowering of a possible link between traditional unions and the cooperative movement took place in 2009. The United Steelworkers (USW), based in Pittsburgh, signed an agreement with Mondragon Cooperative Corporation from the Basque region of Spain. Their objective was to collaborate on developing union-covered and cooperative business models. USW’s president Leo Gerard said that Mondragon’s “one worker, one vote” philosophy was attractive to the Steelworkers. He remarked that “(w)e see Mondragon’s cooperative model…as a means to re-empower workers and make business accountable to Main Street instead of Wall Street.” [Cooperative Grocer, January-February 2010, p. 9].