Employee stock ownership

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Employee stock ownership, or employee share ownership, is where a company's employees own shares in that company (or in the parent company of a group of companies). Plans in public companies generally limit the total number or the percentage of the company's stock that may be acquired by employees under a plan. Compared with worker cooperatives or co-determination, employee share ownership may not confer any meaningful control or influence by employees in governing and managing the corporation. Some companies, particularly private companies, use employee share ownership to support a company's culture. Employee ownership is when all employees together own a substantial stake and have a meaningful voice in the company (or group) that employs them.


  • Publix Super Markets, which operates in the Southeast, and W.L. Gore, the maker of Gore-Tex, are owned by employee stock ownership plans. America still harbors small worker cooperatives owned and operated by their employees, such as the Cheese Board Collective in my hometown Berkeley, Calif. But since the 1980s, profit-sharing has almost disappeared from large corporations. That’s largely because of a change in the American corporation that began with a wave of hostile takeovers and corporate restructurings in the 1980s. Raiders like Carl Icahn, Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken targeted companies they thought could deliver higher returns if their costs were cut. Since payrolls were the highest cost, raiders set about firing workers, cutting pay, automating as many jobs as possible, fighting unions, moving jobs to states with lower labor costs and outsourcing jobs abroad. To prevent being taken over, C.E.O.s began doing the same. This marked the end of most profit-sharing with workers.
  • Jeff Bezos, who now owns 11.1 percent of Amazon’s shares of stock, is worth $165 billion overall. Other top Amazon executives hold hundreds of millions of dollars of Amazon shares. But most of Amazon’s employees, including warehouse workers, don’t share in the same bounty. If Amazon’s 840,000 employees owned the same proportion of their employer’s stock as Sears workers did in the 1950s—a quarter of the company—each would now own shares worth an average of about $386,904. There are many ways to encourage profit-sharing. During this pandemic, for example, Congress should prohibit the Treasury or the Federal Reserve from bailing out any corporation that doesn’t share its profits with its employees. It’s impossible to predict what kind of America will emerge from the crises we’re now experiencing, but the four-decade trend toward higher profits and lower wages is unsustainable, economically and politically. Sharing the profits with all workers is a logical and necessary first step to making capitalism work for the many, not the few.
  • Our employees are the reason for our success and creating the ESOP will recognize and reward them for their efforts going forward... Being employee-owned allows us to preserve our culture for many years in the future, and provides us a way to move forward seamlessly and achieve our goals, while preserving the service our customers have come to expect... Recent research has shown companies who are ESOPs are typically faster, more productive, growing more, and more profitable with less turnover,” Mike Hedge shared. “These are all important to us as we enter into a new phase in the life of our organization. This will help in recruiting, retaining, and engaging employees as we move forward — I’m very pleased to announce Birkey’s is going into this new year 100 percent employee-owned.

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