Workers Deserve to Be Owners, Too
Early in the pandemic, General Electric workers in multiple states staged walkouts and protests to demand the use of their plants and labor for the production of ventilators. “Instead of laying workers off,” Carl Kennebrew of the Industrial Division of the Communications Workers of America said in an April press release, “GE should be stepping up to the plate with us to build the ventilators this country needs.” But what if workers at those plants had positions of real authority at the bodies within the company where such things are decided? What if those workers, in some meaningful sense, actually owned and ran GE to begin with?
There’s early evidence to suggest these proposals would be popular with the American people if Democrats leaned into them. Polling from YouGov commissioned by the think tank the Democracy Collaborative last year found that a majority of registered voters would support the creation of a federal social wealth fund, policies incentivizing the voluntary transfer of ownership stakes to employees, and even making companies with more than 250 employees grant those employees half of their stock over time—a proposal more radical than the ownership plan Sanders put forward.