Shift Change

Monday, February 1, 2021 - 1:00pm
Mark Dworkin, Esteban Kelly & Melissa Young

In this program, we offer a special showing of the documentary film “Shift Change” that tells the little known stories of employee-owned businesses that compete successfully in today’s economy while providing secure, dignified jobs in democratic workplaces. Film preview: The filmmakers Mark Dworkin and Melissa Young are with us to talk about the film. They are joined by Esteban Kelly, Executive Director for the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives. He is an important leader and creative force in solidarity economy and co-op movements. Esteban will provide an up-to-date overview of worker coops in the U.S. today.

At a time when many are disillusioned with big banks, big business, and growing inequity in the United States, employee ownership offers real solutions to the economic crisis faced by workers and communities. In producing “Shift Change,” the filmmakers gained unprecedented access to the 60-year-old network of cooperative businesses of Mondragon in the Basque Country of Spain. They also visited many successful examples of such businesses in the U.S. Together with worker coop members around the US, Dworkin and Young explain how worker coops are organized and the advantages for worker owners and the community when they democratically control how their company runs.

For Mark Dworkin and Melissa Young, making films grew directly out of decades of activism in support of global justice and the environment. They made their first films as participants in the Central America solidarity movement, then addressed US-USSR relations at the end of the Cold War, converting the military economy for peacetime, AIDS, DNA technology and GMOs, the unheralded contributions of women in the history of the American West, salmon farming, sustainable agriculture, and worker cooperatives in Argentina, the US and Europe. Their films have been shown all over the world, winning numerous awards and six have aired nationally on PBS.

Most recently the team has produced several shorts, including “Don’t Give Up Your Voice,” their third film about coops and social justice in Argentina, where the workers' movement, fortified by coop members, took the lead in defeating Argentina's Trump-like president Macri in the election of 2019. They are now planning a new film about worker coops that are collaborating with labor unions, social justice organizations and local government to create more equitable and just local economies. A 52 minute sample reel with excerpts from many of their films is here:

Esteban Kelly is the Executive Director for the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC) and is a worker-owner and co-founder of AORTA (Anti-Oppression Resource & Training Alliance), a worker co-op that builds capacity for social justice projects through intersectional training and consulting. Esteban is a compassionate leader and visionary strategist who inspires organizers by drawing on science fiction, social theory, and collective liberation. He is an advisor to the Movement for Black Lives Policy Table, and he represents the US on the board of the international worker co-op association known as “CICOPA.”