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Shift Change

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SHIFT CHANGE: PUTTING DEMOCRACY TO WORK tells the little known stories of employee-owned businesses that compete successfully in today's economy while providing secure, dignified jobs in democratic workplaces.

With the long decline in US manufacturing and today's economic crisis, millions have been thrown out of work, and many are losing their homes. The usual economic solutions are not working, so some citizens and public officials are ready to think outside of the box, to reinvent our failing economy in order to restore long term community stability and a more egalitarian way of life.

There is growing interest in firms that are owned and managed by their workers. Such firms tend to be more profitable and innovative, and more committed to the communities where they are based. Yet the public has little knowledge of their success, and the promise they offer for a better life.

Amongst the organizations featured in SHIFT CHANGE are:

Mondragon Cooperative Corporation - Begun in the 1950s, the Mondragon co-ops have transformed a depressed area of Spain into one of the most productive in Europe with a high standard of living and an egalitarian way of life. They are owned and managed by their workers. Seeing the achievements of the MCC helps to overcome the idea-widespread in North America-that worker run cooperatives can only exist on the economic fringe.

The Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, OH - This is an ambitious urban redevelopment model, directly inspired by Mondragon, where local institutions and public officials are supporting green cooperatives of previously marginalized, predominantly African American workers, who provide commercial laundry services, install solar energy systems, and grow vegetables in vast urban greenhouses.

Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives, San Francisco, California - Started 30 years ago, there are now six of these independent worker owned and managed cooperative bakeries that work together to provide the financial and legal services they need, and to incubate new coop bakeries.

Equal Exchange, Boston MA: Founded in 1986, Equal Exchange is one of the largest roasters of fair trade coffee in the world.

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