Employee ownership has attracted growing attention for its potential to improve economic outcomes for companies, workers, and the economy in general, and help reduce inequality. Over 100 studies across many countries indicate that employee ownership is generally linked to better productivity, pay, job stability, and firm survival—though the effects are dispersed and causation is difficult … Read More
Labor unions and worker-owned businesses share the objectives of generating better jobs and giving workers control over their workplaces. The scaling of worker ownership paired with unionization offers pathways to expanded worker power and wealth-building for working people. The purpose of this paper is to show strategies used by labor unions to support the creation … Read More
How does a business go about transitioning —“converting”— to a worker-owned cooperative? This report provides illustrations with case studies of businesses that have converted and highlights key lessons from those companies’ experiences. The report categorizes conversions into four types: Type I: Owner sells to existing employees with the intention of remaining with the company; Type … Read More
This booklet provides a “users’ manual” for workers, especially immigrant workers, and their advocates, for organizing a worker-owned cooperative as a worker empowerment strategy.
Employee ownership is a big, bold idea, a market tested concept that is capable of transforming the American economy and rebuilding the American dream. This white paper includes policy proposals for turning more workers into owners.
The United States business sector is dominated by small businesses that create new jobs at a rate considered faster than that of their larger competitors. Remarkably, military veterans own nearly 13 percent of small businesses. However, only eight percent of all veteran-owned firms are minority owned. The low percentage of minority-owned veteran businesses is perplexing … Read More
As the wealth gap continues to grow, especially along racial lines, stakeholders – movement leaders, workers, and aligned investors – are considering a broader array of options for creating asset-building opportunities for marginalized communities and giving them meaningful voice. Employee ownership is a way for workers to participate in the value they create, exercise their … Read More
This primer focuses on one set of tools the labor movement can utilize to build power, expand wealth, and deepen member engagement in the years ahead: worker ownership. It explores: How Unions and Worker Ownership Work Together How Worker Ownership Can Build Power for Workers The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: Overcoming Challenges Looking … Read More
City and state policymakers across ideological divides can help raise standards for workers and boost sustainable economic growth by supporting employee ownership and broad-based profit-sharing.
This paper presents findings from a national survey of 1,147 workers in worker cooperatives and follow up interviews with 15 participants conducted in 2017.
Even before the pandemic, many workers struggled to build wealth. Divisions between men and women, and between white households and households of color, are particularly striking. The pandemic has exacerbated and heightened awareness of these inequities, and there is a mounting sense of urgency to find practical solutions. Increasing participation in business ownership can help … Read More
This booklet helps business owners evaluate employee ownership. Thousands of business owners have decided that employee ownership is the best way to preserve the job security of their workforces and protect the character of their companies while providing them and their families fair value. In “Who Should Own Your Business After You?,” several of them … Read More
This study by Jared Bernstein looks at why there are not more ESOPs and considers how to address potential barriers to entry. Drawing on a survey of 250 non-ESOP business owners and leaders, as well as interviews with business owners of employee-owned companies, it argues that education and awareness about the ESOP structure is key.
This paper proposes that impact investors and other capital providers could catalyze employee ownership buyouts. Impact capital could become the lever used to redirect wealth into the hands of working Americans, creating a more just and equitable economy that is more resilient against future shocks. Investments in employee ownership buyouts could offer attractive midrange returns, … Read More
This significant new study shows that majority employee-owned companies with Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) are outperforming non-employee owned companies during the COVID-19 pandemic in the areas of job retention, pay, benefits, and workplace health safety. The study reveals that ESOPs have been more proactive about ensuring the safety of employees during the pandemic and … Read More
This report describes the role cooperatives can play in building healthy, equitable, and sustainable communities, and explains how to advance that work through federal, state, and local policy. The policy objectives presented are intended not to simply grow the field of cooperatives, but to enhance the work of cooperatives that address economic and racial disparities … Read More
Latinx people have long been an influential and integral part of the U.S. cooperative movement. Several Latinx-led organizations, such as Prospera in Oakland and Green Worker Cooperatives in the Bronx, have strongly influenced activity and models of cooperatives in their own localities and nationally. Furthermore, individual cooperative members who identify as Latinx bring their own … Read More
These Guidelines for Equitable Employee Ownership Transitions are a collaborative work of practitioners and thought leaders in the fields of investment management, employee ownership, and socially responsible business who believe deeply in the promise of shared enterprise ownership to build a more just and inclusive economy.
The case for employee ownership is undisputed. As philanthropists and government leaders grapple with how to address both long-entrenched and newly-emerging forms of economic insecurity, there is no better time to look to effective but lesser-known solutions, such as employee ownership. Even before the economic crisis brought on by COVID-19, income and wealth inequality and downward economic mobility for frontline workers were truths so obvious that one could visually observe them in most communities. Now, more than ever, we need solutions that create economic resiliency for workers and local economies.
The 2019 Worker Cooperative State of the Sector is a report on worker-owned business in the United States. This report, a co-production of Democracy at Work Institute and the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, draws upon the latest developments in the field. It includes an updated map of metro areas home to concentrations of worker … Read More
At the center of the ongoing debate about the causes and cures of inequality in America today is the vast difference in wealth between owners and workers. As many have noted, that gap was not nearly as large in the middle of the twentieth century as it has become in the first two decades of the 21st century, where owners and other executives make many multiples of what workers make – largely through grants of stock in lieu of salary.
A major theoretical objection against employee ownership is that workers become inadequately diversified and exposed to excessive financial risk. Recent theory concludes that 10-15% of a worker’s wealth portfolio can be prudently invested in employer stock provided the rest of the portfolio is properly diversified. This paper analyzes employee share ownership in U.S. family financial … Read More
In 2015, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation engaged the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing, at the Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations, to conduct a qualitative study examining the asset building impacts of employee ownership for low- and moderate-income employees and their families.
The two key ways organizations can increase equity participation and employee share ownership are to help employees accumulate wealth while managing their financial risks, and implement policies and practices that create an engaging ownership culture. Based on a large body of research mostly conducted by Rutgers Institute for Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing, the top … Read More
Mission-led employee-owned firms embody a powerful model of enterprise design for a new era of environmental sustainability and social equity. These companies have much to teach the business world about ownership design for the 21st century and beyond. This report shares the story of this emerging model, embodied in 50-plus firms that are employee owned … Read More