On Monday, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders released a sweeping plan that would, he claims, level the playing field for working class Americans and “help create an economy that works for all.”
Available in full at berniesanders.com, the candidate’s official campaign page, the plan details a set of reforms that would fundamentally restructure the American economy.
Under Sanders’ plan, all publicly traded companies would have to be at least 20 percent owned by the workers. Every year, all publicly traded companies would have to give up at least two percent of their stock to their workers, until the 20 percent threshold is reached.
To achieve this, Sanders would create what he calls “Democratic Employee Ownership Funds,” funds that would be controlled by a Board of Trustees directly elected by the workers.
Furthermore, under Sanders’ plan, corporate boards would be democratized.
Forty five percent of the board of directors in any corporation making more than $100 million annually — and in all publicly traded companies — would be directly elected by the employees.
“When workers are respected on the job as full human beings who help make decisions for a profitable company, rather than being mere cogs in the machine, morale goes up,” according to the Vermont senator.
Sanders’ plan would also ban stock buybacks, which would be treated as stock manipulation like they were up until 1981. It would require companies that outsource jobs — either to low wage countries or through automation — to share their gains with laid off workers.
Furthermore, Sanders wants to establish a $500 million U.S. Employee Ownership Bank that would provide low-interest loans and assistance to workers looking to purchase shares in their companies.
Ken Langone, the billionaire founder of the Home Depot, wants to know what we'll do for working people.
First of all, Ken, we'll stop corporations like yours from paying workers starvation wages to make billionaires like you even richer. pic.twitter.com/v7SIBLTZio
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) October 9, 2019
Additionally, Sanders’ plan would give workers the right to buy a company — with the assistance of the U.S. Employee Ownership Bank — instead of letting it shut down or move overseas, and create “worker ownership centers,” meant to educate workers and retiring business owners alike about “the benefits of employee ownership.”
The Democratic presidential candidate’s plan would also break up monopolies, review all corporate mergers that have taken place during the Trump administration, reform the Federal Trade Commission, and increase the corporate tax rate to 35 percent.
“With this proposal we are going to fundamentally shift the wealth of the economy back into the hands of those who create it,” Sanders says.
As Sanders pointed out in the white paper, similar proposals are already in place in countries such as Germany.
Sanders set of policy proposals would, in fact, not be out of place in Europe.
In many European social democracies — from Germany, over Netherlands, to Denmark and Sweden — co-determination is not only commonplace, it is also credited with bolstering wages, job security, labor rights, and improving the economy, according to The American Prospect.
The Vermont senator’s latest plan could help him further distinguish himself from former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, his main competitors in the Democratic primary race.