New England Premier of Shift Change: Putting Democracy To Work

New documentary tells the stories of successful, employee-owned businesses, including Boston's Equal Exchange

October 16, 2012 - The new documentary, SHIFT CHANGE ( will have its New England premiere screenings October 21st and 24th. Seattle area filmmakers Mark Dworkin and Melissa Young will attend these premiere screenings. Representatives from Equal Exchange, one of the enterprises featured, will also be in attendance.

At a time when many are disillusioned with big banks, big business, and growing inequality in the United States, employee ownership offers real solutions for workers and communities. SHIFT CHANGE visits thriving cooperative businesses in the U.S. and Spain; sharing on-the-ground experiences, lessons, and observations from the worker-owners on the front lines of the new economy.

West Bridgewater, Massachusetts-based Equal Exchange is featured in SHIFT CHANGE. Equal Exchange is best known for their pioneering work with Fair Trade coffee, chocolate and bananas but with over 120 employees, 100+ 'worker-owners', and $50 million in annual revenue, they are also the 4th largest worker co-operative in the U.S. Since their founding in Boston's South End in 1986 Equal Exchange has become a text-book role model for other socially responsible, employee-owned, for-profit enterprises.

These Boston screenings of SHIFT CHANGE occur during national Co-op Month (October) and the U.N.-declared International Year of Cooperatives ( The film's producers will be joined by worker-owners from Equal Exchange, and other members of the Boston area cooperative sector.

SHIFT CHANGE filmmakers Young and Dworkin gained unprecedented access to the world's oldest and largest network of worker cooperatives in Mondragon - in the Basque Country of Spain - where 60% of local residents are employee-owners. With high job security and competitive salaries, the Basque Country boasts half the unemployment rate of the rest of Spain, and the Mondragon Corporation is the country's 10th largest. SHIFT CHANGE explores many of Mondragon's diverse production facilities; along with its network of cooperative infrastructure, education, and social services agencies, highlighting the qualities that have helped to drive Mondragon's business success while also perpetuating the democratic, socially responsible, community-oriented principles upon which it was founded.

Here in the U.S. - where a long decline in manufacturing and a brutal economic crisis have led to millions of Americans being thrown out of work - many are looking to Mondragon as a model. Worker-owned businesses are on the rise, with hundreds of coops in the U.S. today, representing thousands of individual worker/owners. SHIFT CHANGE highlights some of the vibrant worker-owned companies across the nation: from bakeries to solar energy to manufacturing and engineering. Through in-depth interviews with worker-owners, attendance at co-op meetings, and visits to the factory floor, the film conveys the promise that these businesses offer to reinvent our failing economy, provide a pathway to long term stability, and nurture a more egalitarian way of life.

ABOUT THE PRODUCERS: Melissa Young and Mark Dworkin have produced many documentary films on social justice and environmental issues in North and South America, winning prestigious awards from CINE, Houston, Columbus, Prix Leonardo, International Wildlife, Women in Film/Seattle, Chicago, NW Film and Video Festivals, among others. Their productions are known for diverse examples of regular people helping create positive change. Young and Dworkin's films are in broad circulation in academic and community settings. Five have been broadcast on PBS, most recently, Good Food [2010], an intimate look at the growers and businesses that are creating a local, sustainable food system in the Pacific Northwest. Their latest release, We Are Not Ghosts (2012) is about rebuilding Detroit from the ground up.

Rodney North
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