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Reps. Courtney, Pocan Introduce Legislation to Bolster Employee Ownership

November 23, 2021
Press Release

NORWICH, CT—Today, Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02) and Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02) announced the recent introduction of the Worker Ownership, Readiness and Knowledge (WORK) Act, a bill to help increase the number of employee-owned business in the United States. Employee ownership is a proven business model that can help fight job loss and retirement inequality by giving employees a stake in their company.

The bill would create an Employee Ownership and Participation Initiative at the U.S. Department of Labor to provide technical assistance to those seeking to start new employee-owned businesses and encourage employee participation. ESOPs, or Employee Stock Ownership Plans, are a type of retirement plan structure that gives workers an ownership interest in their company. ESOP businesses are proven to have better retention, higher wages, and stronger retirement benefits for their workers, as well as high employee engagement and satisfaction. A 2018 survey found that ESOP workers have more than twice the average retirement of Americans.

“There are strong ESOP businesses in eastern Connecticut that have really displayed the value of employee ownership,” said Rep. Joe Courtney. “This model engages workers in the future of the business, while providing them with a healthy and reliable retirement savings. It also prevents businesses from being sold off to investors who may not have the workforce’s interests in mind. The WORK Act will help replicate this model at businesses across the U.S. that are interested in pursuing this route, ensuring business success also means success for workers.”

“The facts are overwhelming—ESOP businesses are some of the most successful businesses in the country,” Rep. Pocan said. “The WORK Act aims to make creating this model more accessible to workers and businesses across Wisconsin and the United States. I’m proud to reintroduce this bill with Rep. Courtney to protect workers and businesses alike.” 

Many business owners do not have a succession plan, leaving the future of those they employ in question. Forming an ESOP is a little-known, but valuable and increasingly popular option which benefits the employers and ensures the business’ legacy into the future. The WORK Act would provide support to businesses interested in making this transition, including outreach about employee ownership and business succession, technical assistance to those seeking to start new employee-owned businesses, and training to support employee participation.

For more information on the WORK Act, contact Rep. Courtney’s office.