In June, the Senate passed the Main Street Employee Ownership Act, a bipartisan-sponsored bill aimed to provide funding and technical assistance to support cooperative business models. Introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), the bill seeks to help small businesses transition to worker-operated systems of ownership, management, and governance.
“Employee-owned businesses have a strong track record of better pay and retirement benefits for workers and a commitment to creating local jobs,” said Gillibrand in a statement. “I will continue to fight as hard as I can to pass this bipartisan legislation into law to reward work and support employee ownership around New York and the country."
The bill’s passage represents the latest action in a national effort to stave the tides of the “Silver Tsunami,” the mass retirement of the Baby Boomer generation. Each day, tens of thousands of Baby Boomers are entering retirement, many of whom are owners of small businesses across the country. Unless these widespread losses are addressed, more than 2.3 million companies risk closure, triggering a significant loss of local jobs and causing a major disruption to the national economy.
That’s why organizations like the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) have been fighting for worker ownership as a viable solution to the Baby Boomer business crisis. Cooperative business models are generally more resilient with shared, democratic ownership, and they offer employees more opportunities to adjust governance, business strategy, and day-to-day operations as their needs evolve. This employee-driven model not only results in a workplace that prioritizes workers’ well-being but fosters a stronger community commitment as each worker holds an economic stake in the company’s success.
Green America operates as a participatory workplace where staff members have a voice, board representation, and strive for consensus on key strategic issues for the organization. We are excited to see legislative progress in building a more stable, socially-sustainable economy. Feel free to thank Senator Gillibrand for her work and sign on to ASBC’s campaign to encourage more opportunities for worker ownership.