Why do worker-owners need a union?

If it’s a real co-op, owned by its workers, then why is a union needed? 

You wouldn’t think that workers would need a union when everything is “one worker one vote.” However, Mondragon’s experience was that when their co-ops grew in size there began to be an increasing disconnect between people on the shop floor and people in management. Even though people on the shop floor could vote to remove a manager or vote for new board members at the yearly general congress, there weren’t enough mechanisms built in, there wasn’t a defined space and process to handle the conflicts that inevitably arise, a space where shop floor workers can get their input into the day-to-day operations. So, Mondragon developed a social council to fulfill this need and all Mondragon co-ops of 50 or more people have social councils. It allows for democracy, participation, and transparency to exist even as co-ops grow to larger and larger sizes. As we translate Mondragon’s successful experience to the U.S., the union committee fulfills the role.

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