Worker Ownership:

Stronger Local Economies and Opportunity for All

The link between work and reward is unraveling.

The hourly pay of typical workers has essentially stagnated—increasing only 13% over 43 years.

The U.S. has the highest level of income inequality among all advanced countries.

As many as 9 in 10 households save too little to finance retirement, and millions of Americans save nothing at all.

Growing community strength and local opportunity from the ground up

Worker ownership is an efficient way to boost consumer demand – and, in turn, the economy by building wealth for hardworking Americans. Additionally, when workers buy the company that employs them, they continue their commitment to the community because they have an economic stake in its success.

Worker ownership is a solution that works.

Staving off the Silver Tsunami

Over the next decade, tens of thousands of businesses will be sold or shut down as their baby-boomer owners retire. Up to 20,000 of these businesses must change ownership each year. The widespread loss of these businesses threatens the larger economy. But baby-boomer businesses don’t have to close. Many can be sold to their workers!

Did you know: 55 million Americans currently lack a way to save for retirement through their workplaces, causing a savings gap of over $28 trillion.


increase in job growth over 10 years.


more likely to remain open after 5 years of operation.


employment growth in 2018, even as employment fell by nearly 3% overall.

5-12% more

pay their workers

Worker-owned businesses are stronger and more resilient:

Did you know: ESOPs vastly outperformed the S&P 500 from 2002-2012.

Worker Ownership Sustains Companies, Workers, and Communities

ESOPs are an employee-benefit retirement plan that enable workers to own an equity stake in the business by being members of the trust that owns the company’s stock. Some ESOPs are entirely worker-owned. 

Employee Stock Ownership Plans

Worker Cooperatives

Worker cooperatives are for-profit businesses that produce goods and services whose workers own and democratically manage the business. Co-ops can be large or small, rural or urban, and they operate in many different business sectors.

Union Cooperatives

Union cooperatives are businesses owned and directed by workers through a one worker, one vote approach. They exist in all sectors, are defined by the worker owners voting in the union committee and the company board, and are driven by the values of democracy and equity. 

Promoting all worker ownership models is critical:

workers should have a choice about which is best for them.

Equal treatment under the law for all worker ownership models will enable choice and flexibility for workers. It will also provide the freedom to create new hybrid models as business and worker needs evolve!

New Belgium Brewing

ASBC Member New Belgium Brewing's owners were concerned that if they brought in outside investors, the company’s socially responsible mission would be lost. For this reason, New Belgium Brewing restructured with an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Worker ownership can preserve the character and quality of a company, which may be of real value to its community of customers.

Did you know? Almost half of U.S. full-time workers have some share in their employer.

NRS, Inc.

"As a 100% employee-owned company, we see the value of investing in our employees and the positive impact it has on our community. Our business model works because of the growing number of consumers aligning their buying practices with their values.” – the team of employee owners at ASBC Member Northwest River Supplies, Inc.

Congress is considering advancing worker ownership now.

Here's what we need to support:

Did You Know? Policymakers of all political views value worker ownership.

Legal parity for ownership models in federal laws: There are several models of worker ownership, and this variety contributes to the fragmentation of the law. Tax laws treat cooperatives differently than ESOPs and S corp ESOPs differently than C corp ESOPs. The laws must be changed to make tax treatment more uniform for all worker ownership models.

Enabling paths to transition: The transition to worker ownership requires technical help in the form of business and market assessments, legal assistance in structuring the transition, and training employee purchasers to run the business.

Access to capital: Many traditional banks don’t know enough about worker-owned businesses to feel comfortable lending to them. Legislation can create ways to raise funds, either through changes to tax law or an increase in government loans.

S. 1589 would give S Corp ESOP owners the same right to defer capital gains taxes that C Corp ESOP owners now have. Ideally, S.1589 should be expanded to provide similar tax breaks to worker and union coops as well. 

The Promotion and Expansion of Private Employee Ownership
Act (S. 1589

Main Street Employee Ownership Act of 2018 (S. 2786 and H.R. 5236)

S. 2786 and H.R. 5236 would increase the availability of SBA 7(a) ESOP loans; allow the seller to maintain longer contact with the company to support the transition to worker ownership; and require the SBA to work with the nation’s Small Business Development Centers to provide transition-related technical training, executive education, and one-on-one consulting.

The Worker Ownership, Readiness, and Knowledge (WORK) Act (S. 1081, H.R. 2387)

S. 1081, H.R. 2387 would authorize the Department of Labor to provide training, grants, and technical support to local and state programs that promote worker ownership.

Legislative Action: Current Bills Going through
Congress that ASBC and Members Support

Dear Member of Congress:

We, a coalition of businesses and organizations, urge you to pass legislation that expands the support and opportunity for worker ownership. In the past 30 years, the connection between work and reward has frayed. One ready solution to this problem is worker ownership – which allows more Americans to share in their company’s success and build wealth over the long term. It also makes these companies more stable, keeping local businesses open for their customers, employees, and communities.

Worker ownership is a business model that can preserve many American businesses that may otherwise close as baby boomers retire, build stronger and more resilient local economies, increase wealth, and help rebuild our essential middle class. It’s a model that can work in all of our communities, and its time is now. Congress should work to advance and create parity among worker ownership models – in term of tax treatment and technical and financial support – to enable choice and spur innovation in hybrid models. Worker ownership is a smart, bipartisan idea that is good for workers, companies, and communities alike. We urge Congress to take steps to advance this American tradition.

Sign on with ASBC to show your support!

Help drive a more equitable economy and build the middle class through Ownership for All.

It’s a model that can work in all of our communities, and its time is now.

Sign on with ASBC to advance these policies.

Help increase wealth and rebuild the middle class. It’s a model that can work in all of our communities, and its time is now.

Worker Ownership



get workers who are more committed and productive and less likely to leave.


get more responsibility, greater compensation, another source of retirement income.


get companies that don’t relocate, keeping their wealth in place, and creating long-term jobs and greater consumer spending.