Typically, when US businesses think of employee ownership, the form that ownership takes is an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) company. The most up-to-date data (from 2015) finds that 10.8 million Americans work at an estimated 6,669 companies in which an ESOP owns all or part of the company. Because an ESOP is a federally regulated pension plan, there are costs involved. For smaller companies, especially companies with fewer than 20 employees, a worker cooperative, which is directly owned by workers and is not a pension plan, is likely to be a more cost-effective way for workers to purchase the company from the owners.
Of course, there are other reasons to use a worker cooperative other than costs, including the fact that workers can self-manage more of their own affairs. As Abello notes, “In a worker cooperative, in addition to sharing ownership, workers share collective responsibility in managing the business, often using the principle of ‘one worker, one vote’ to govern decisions like hiring manage
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