The following is a transcript of the video above, from our webinar “Remaking the Economy: Building Regional Solidarity Economies.” View the full webinar here.

Scale matters, [it] ultimately matters…

…I’m thinking about Mondragon, [which] everybody points to, but I want to point to it in a different kind of a way. We know that this region, in the 50s and 60s, was the poorest…region in Spain. Why? Because it was a Basque region. It was hated by the dictator [who] had been in power for decades. They were on the losing end of the civil war for justice, and it hurts when you lose those wars. There [were many] ramifications.

That’s where solidarity comes into play.

[But] when the [collapse began], the [Basque] had these tremendous principles of internal solidarity. In a big company like Mondragon, made up of lots of cooperatives, the…highest-paid worker…doesn’t make more than six times, typically, the lowest-paid worker….That makes a huge difference. Why does that make a huge difference? Because in the United States, the distance is somewhere between one [to] 400 in a company of equivalent size. What difference does that make just in terms of the math? If you’re not spending millions of dollars for one guy to have a mansion and a boat and whatever [else], [where] his descendants can’t even spend all the money that they’re getting, you can invest in other things. Mondragon has done that. They invested in colleges that are cooperatives, that teach people how to start businesses that are cooperatives. They’ve invested in [research and development] that serves the workers so that they can be more productive and more competitive in the world market….They have internal solidarity that’s based on principles [and] practices, like an assembly of hundreds [of] cooperatives every year, where they make decisions together. That’s where solidarity comes into play.

When the Domesticas cooperative, [made up of] 2000 workers, was going out of business, all of the [allied] cooperatives voted to take pay cuts, so that they could invest in the company. When that didn’t work out, they managed to place them in the scale that they had in other cooperatives. When we work with worker centers, we’re…accompanying their scale, their depth, the decades of organizing of thousands of people they’ve had, the relationships they have with other worker centers, the relationships they have with legislators…we’re contributing our part. We are accompanying them with our knowledge about cooperatives. We are accompanying them with our access to capital, we are accompanying them with our open hearts and minds. We learn a lot, and so do they.