Works For All
Cincinnati's Co-op Economy
Since 2011 Co-op Cincy has been building an inspiring network of worker-owned cooperatives in Cincinnati to create a regional economy that works for all.
Directed by Mark Dworkin, Melissa Young
Produced by Melissa Young, Mark Dworkin
Writers: Melissa Young, Mark Dworkin
Photographer, Editor: Mark Dworkin
Consulting Editor: Tony Harrah
Additional Video: Paloma Correa, Joey Evans, Clancy McGilligan, Ellen Vera
Music: Pete, Western Heroes. Claudio Mendez, Daniel Gomez
A Moving Images Production
Cincinnati is a historic city, just across the Ohio River from Kentucky in the heart of the American Midwest. In the years when people were fleeing slavery in the South, the city became a way station on the Underground Railroad. And since 2011, it has been home to Co-op Cincy, a unique network of activists and unionized cooperatives that are building "an economy that works for all."
"Outstanding and inspiring...shows people taking control of their lives and challenging the basic assumptions concerning work." Bill Fletcher Jr., Activist, Scholar, Author
WORKS FOR ALL visits several of the diverse worker-owned cooperatives in the network, many led by people traditionally marginalized in the U.S. economy, and shows Co-op Cincy's remarkable work to transform and provide training and support for these businesses. Particularly significant for the future is the effort to help convert existing businesses—where owners are retiring—to cooperatives. The film also explores the influence of Spain's Mondragon Corporation, the world's largest worker cooperative federation, on Co-op Cincy's mission.
Other films by Mark Dworkin and Melissa Young are Ever Green, Plane Truths, WEconomics: Italy, Shift Change, We Are Not Ghosts, Good Food, Argentina: Hope in Hard Times and Argentina: Turning Around, Net Loss, Another World is Possible, Not for Sale, Gene Blues, Islas Hermanas and Risky Business.
Grade Level: 9 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2023
Copyright Date: 2023
DVD ISBN: 1-961192-08-X
"The Cincinnati union co-op movement should be an inspiration to everyone looking for what racial and economic justice looks like in practice. Black workers, immigrants, women, youth, and working people shut out by corporations are nurturing a solidarity economy in Southwest Ohio. Works For All provides us with a glimpse of beautiful stories from these communities, stories I think we will look back on as seeds for what came next."
Esteban Kelly, Executive Director, US Federation of Worker Cooperatives
"Works For All shows us the magic - as well as the hard work, detailed planning and education - that goes into developing co-ops through Co-op Cincy. The film provides vivid and inspiring glimpses into the workings of co-ops such as Shine Nurture Center, Heritage Hill, Sustainergy, Our Harvest, and Gem City Market. These are not simply community businesses, but social mission driven, people-centered enterprises, built on the values of mutuality and solidarity, democratic participation, equity, the sovereignty of labor, and humane as well as ecological sustainability. Co-op Cincy helps us to see the road worth traveling. Works For All takes us on a journey along that road, so we meet the people behind moving us toward transforming our economies, and see how close we are getting to creating a just future."
Jessica Gordon Nembhard, Professor of Community Justice and Social Economic Development, John Jay College - CUNY, Author, Collective Courage: A
History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice
"Works For All is so needed at this time. It captures the connection between what Co-op Cincy and Mondragon does for local and just economic development, for Cincinnati and Dayton and beyond. As a worker owner says beautifully in the film about what true dignity at work can look like, 'If we're not happy with something [happening in the company] we can evaluate it, talk about it, and fix it.' This film projects the right mix of vision for a more just world with the practice and business acumen required to let our workplaces take us there."
Rebecca Lurie, Founder, Community and Worker Ownership Project, Labor and Urban Studies, City University of New York
"Works For All will be a hugely useful addition to any class on worker ownership and more broadly, on building a just society. It's full of concrete examples of cooperatives at work featuring smart, down to earth worker-owners explaining just why worker ownership works so well and what it means to them. It also does a great job of explaining why and how cooperatives need to work together, of the ways that this kind of work can rejuvenate a community, and of the resources that the group needs to succeed."
Rebecca Henderson, University Professor, Harvard Business School, Author, Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire
"This beautifully crafted documentary both inspires with vision and details the practical realities of communities who are determined to own their lives and businesses. When people get together in mutual support systems anything can happen and everything is possible - Works For All is exactly that, breaking barriers and healing hearts. It shows us how the reality of co-operative networking as demonstrated in places like Mondragon and Co-op Cincy can lead to replication and quality employment. What an example to us all!"
Julian Manley, Centre in Community Connectedness and Co-operation, University of Central Lancashire, Director, Preston Cooperative Education Centre
"Works For All is a beautiful and compelling glimpse into the inspiring work of Co-op Cincy. I loved getting to see inside these businesses, the people who make them run, the union partnership in their successes, and how worker ownership has moored the values of cooperation, sustainability, and dignified work. Those of us working for movements of organized labor and worker ownership need to see more examples and stories like these to connect our work and vision with the impact of seasoned practitioners like Co-op Cincy."
Ra Criscitiello, SEIU - United Healthcare Workers West
"Works For All gives us first-person accounts about the power of worker-ownership from the workers themselves. Over a hundred years ago, suffragettes and Union organizers called for Bread for All, and Roses too where Bread meant money for basic necessities like food, shelter, and clothing, and Roses meant dignity on the job, fewer working hours, and a better quality of life including the enjoyment of art, music, and nature. Listening to these first-person accounts, the common threads of doing work with meaning, having dignity at work, participation in the ownership of their work, and earning more from their work, shows how Co-op Cincy and Co-op Dayton continue to turn Bread and Roses from words into action."
Rob Witherell, United Steelworkers
"A must see...A wonderful and inspiring short film...Organizers and workers talk about the promise of a growing network of mutually supportive co-ops to build a more democratic, equitable and sustainable economy where workers own, control and build wealth as their businesses prosper. We hear about co-ops in a range of sectors including childcare, cleaning, weatherization, farming, and a food co-op. This unique and important film highlights both the role that unions have played in supporting co-op development, and looks at the context of building co-ops in struggling communities, where many of those involved are people of color."
Emily Kawano, Co-director, Wellspring Cooperative
"This is an uplifting and informative look at how Co-op Cincy is building a network of worker-owned cooperatives and an economy that works for all. Activists have a rich history fighting for social justice and against corporate greed, which is so often an uphill battle. Co-op Cincy is providing a welcome balance by creating pro-union companies owned and run by the workers themselves. These co-op networks give us a glimpse into the world that we ultimately want to see."
Richard Bensinger, former Organizing Director, AFL-CIO
"This is an outstanding and inspiring look at another side of the labor movement: the efforts to build an alternative and sustainable economy. Works For All shows people taking control of their lives and challenging the basic assumptions concerning work. Inspired by the Mondragon cooperatives in the Basque region of northern Spain, the efforts described in the film are every bit as relevant to our experiences, needs and desires in the USA."
Bill Fletcher, Jr., writer, activist, trade unionist, former president of TransAfrica Forum
"Could the Queen City soon be America's leading co-op city? Works For All tells how union and worker co-op organizers in Cincinnati came together to develop a network of worker co-ops not only in their hometown but beyond. Drawing on a model of mass worker ownership from the Mondragon co-ops in Spain's Basque Country, but creating a transformative vision uniquely their own, the stories of these organizers will inspire you."
Steve Dubb, Senior Editor of Economic Justice, The Nonprofit Quarterly
"Works For All captures the relationships, spirit, and a work-place community vision for today. Giving meaning to democracy, transformation, rights and responsibilities, the film loudly and lovingly says: Another Cincinnati is happening."
Rich Feldman, James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership and Freedom Dreams
|DVDs include public performance rights.
Includes SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing and scene selection
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Fight Like Hell
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Brothers On The Line
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... more Reviews
"Works For All brilliantly captures the essence of solidarity, social justice, and an economy centered on the people. Diving deep into Cincinnati's Co-op Cincy network, this documentary offers an enlightening view of how worker-owned cooperatives are reshaping industries from food to childcare. A must-watch for anyone passionate about building an inclusive economy that truly values our shared humanity."
Leon Prieto, Director, Center for Social Innovation and Sustainable Entrepreneurship, Professor of Management, Clayton State University
"The vibrant scenes in Works For All capture the thriving cooperative ecosystems in Cincinnati and Mondragon. This film should be part of the curriculum of any high school, undergraduate, or professional course about labor, employment, business, or the future of work. It will generate lively discussion about democratic companies that treat workers as human and provide jobs that are family-sustaining."
Ariana Levinson, Professor of Law, University of Louisville
"A must-watch...Works For All shows us that coops are not just one of the corporate governance options but a way of creating engaging and inclusive workplaces, building stronger, safer, and thriving communities, and valuing the labor that has long been devalued. Full of inspiring stories, it encourages us to think about innovative ways to tackle various problems our communities, economy, and society are facing."
Jungook Kim, Assistant Professor of Business and Data Science, Chatham University
"Works For All is a much-needed intervention on the problems with America's racial capitalist system and, most importantly, the real possibilities for cooperative alternatives that folks are building around the world today. The clarity with which interviewees - across race, gender, and industries - explain the why and how of cooperative development is useful for the community education work I do as an organizer or the solidarity economy lawyering course I teach as a law professor. Works For All shows that cooperatives must be an essential part of existing movements for an abolitionist world that can honor people's needs and the environment's limited resources beyond capitalism."
Julian Hill, Assistant Professor of Law, Founding Co-Director, Community Development and Entrepreneurship Law Clinic, Georgia State University
"As one worker co-op member astutely points out in this film, 'Our management learning is outdated.' Works For All helps to correct that by showing some of the day-to-day operations within the Co-op Cincy network of cooperatives and cooperative support agencies. Worker co-ops are a growing area of the economy that is increasingly providing new opportunities for low-income BIPOC communities, fostering connection between workers (including through unionization), increasing environmental sustainability, and offering more dignity and better income to often overlooked workers. Those looking for ways to bring portraits of economic democracy and unexpected examples of worker solidarity into the classroom will find this a rare and valuable film."
Joan S. M. Meyers, Associate Professor of Sociology, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, Author, Working Democracies: Managing Inequality in Worker Cooperatives