Practical Solutions Money Employee Owned Company

About a practical proposal to help businesses with employee owned companies.

SOLUTIONS--PRACTICAL PROPOSALS AND BRAND-NEW APPROACHES TO A MULTITUDE OF PROBLEMS

MONEY

Businesses Where Everybody's the Boss

People who are depressed by the fact that almost all large businesses in the world are run by unfeeling, uncaring corporations and conglomerates or by unfeeling and uncaring socialist and communist governments should find hope in the growing trend toward employee-owned businesses. Although such firms are popping up throughout the U.S., from California to Vermont, the tradition is most deeply rooted in the Pacific Northwest, where worker-owned plywood companies have been in existence since 1921. According to Paul Bernstein in his book Workplace Democratization: Its Internal Dynamics (Kent State University Press, 1976), there are currently 18 plywood manufacturing firms in Washington and Oregon which are fully owned by their employees. They range in size from 80 to 450 owner-workers and have been in continuous operation for 19 to 33 years.

Organization of the plants varies, but basically they work like this: Each employee owns a share of stock in the company. Once a year the employee-stockholders elect from amongst themselves a board of directors. The board makes most day-to-day policy decisions, but major issues--such as expenditures over $25,000, borrowing money, or building additions--must be voted on by all the workers.

The board of directors hires a general manager, who coordinates and administrates daily affairs. The manager is usually not a shareholder. All members receive an equal wage; floor sweepers, machine operators, and accountants have the same income. These employee-owned plywood firms have consistently paid better wages, produced more wood, and survived slumps better than regular firms.

It could be that employee-owned businesses will turn out to be the workable compromise between capitalism and communism.

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