The ESOP Association Blog

Covering ESOPs and employee ownership

ESOP Champion, Senator Mary Landrieu, Makes Senate Floor Statement on Value of ESOPs

On July 31, 2014, Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu (D) took to the Senate floor to make a statement on ESOPs. Below is an excerpt of her statement; you can read the statement in its entirety here.

An excerpt of Senator Landrieu’s statement follows:

“Ms. LANDRIEU. Madam President, I wish to reiterate my longstanding support for employee stock ownership plans or ESOPs. During my time in the Senate, I have been dedicated to building on the lasting contributions of my Louisiana predecessors, including Senator Russell B. Long, who, as Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, championed tax provisions to encourage corporations to adopt ESOPs. Senator Long advocated for employee stock ownership as an “issue that cuts across party lines in an attempt to bring out the best in our free enterprise system.’’ He believed that “it is only fair and right that those who work to make this economy succeed should have an opportunity to share in that success . . . [i]t is a matter of simple common sense and basic equity.’’ I couldn’t agree more.

“Last year, as chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, I convened a roundtable to provide small business owners, policy experts and other stakeholders an opportunity to express their views and to solicit their ideas on making tax reform work for small businesses. Participants argued in favor of a Tax Code that rewards employer and employee ownership as a means of providing continuity of business ownership and opportunities for employees of businesses to build wealth. Specifically, participants favored retaining the current Tax Code’s ESOP provisions, noting that during the most recent economic downturn, ESOPs, which are predominately small businesses, were able to retain more employees as they weathered the crisis than conventionally owned companies.

“Earlier this year, the New York Times published an article describing the research of three labor economists who have focused their work on promoting ESOPs as a “new perspective on how to resolve the disparities in wealth and income.’’ I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record the New York Times article, dated February 11, 2014, and titled, “Whatever Happened to ‘Every Man a King’?’’. These experts, Dr. Joseph Blasi and Dr. Richard Kruse of Rutgers University, and Dr. Douglas Freeman of Harvard University, argue in their book, “The Citizen’s Share’’, that policies promoting employee ownership date back to the era of the Founding Fathers and have garnered support from politicians and stakeholders across the political spectrum–from Ronald Reagan to Senator Bernie Sanders.

“Quite simply, policies that promote ESOPs are policies that merit this Chamber’s bipartisan support and I will continue the work of my Louisiana predecessors to ensure retirement security for working Americans.”

The New York Times article by Thomas B. Edsall can be found here.

Filed under: Employee Ownership Message, Government Affairs,

July 2014 Link Round-Up

SEL employee owners share experiences with Illinois Congressman

Congressional visits by ESOP Association members during this year’s Annual Conference

An article by Dr. Joseph Blasi: The Founding Fathers Feared a Powerful One Percent

A few ESOP articles of interest

July ESOP Report was posted

We talked about the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s ESOP Initiative Program

Some more ESOP news highlights

The 2014 Employee Owner Retreat is getting close

2014 Summer Advocacy Kits are available

Filed under: Government Affairs, Member Services, News Links, ,

2014 Summer Advocacy Kits Available

The updated 2014 Advocacy Kit and 2014 Congressional Visit Kit are now available. Copies of the 2014 Summer Kits can be downloaded from The ESOP Association’s website. Links are below as well for your convenience.

Now is the time to meet with your member of Congress and talk up your ESOP. Really want to make a statement? Invite your member of Congress to your company for a visit. Show them what employee ownership means, first hand.

Summer 2014 Advocacy Kit – July 2014

Summer 2014 Congressional Visit Kit – July 2014

Filed under: Government Affairs, ,

The July ESOP Report is Available

The July 2014 ESOP Report is now available for members. To access this month’s issue, you’ll need to sign into The ESOP Association’s website. The Member Sign In button is located at the top of the page. To get to the ESOP Report, click Meet & Learn. A link to the ESOP Report is located on the left side menu.

July2014ESOPReportCOVERsmall

Filed under: Government Affairs, Member Services, Publication, ,

Congressional Visits

While in DC for the Annual Conference, May 8 & 9, many Association members made visits to their Congressional offices to discuss the value of employee ownership. Some even met up with members of Congress at the airport. Lesson: never pass up the chance to talk ESOP! We’ll be sharing photos below. If you have photos of a Congressional visit, please send it to media AT esopassociation.org. We’ll try to include the information in an upcoming issue of the ESOP Report and on the Association’s Blog.

Thanks to our members for their work to promote ESOPs and employee ownership in America.

Members of the California/Western States Chapter visiting Capitol Hill during the Annual Conference.

Members of the California/Western States Chapter visiting Capitol Hill during the Annual Conference.

Members of the California/Western States Chapter visiting Capitol Hill during the Annual Conference.

Members of the California/Western States Chapter visiting Capitol Hill during the Annual Conference.

New South Chapter members visited the offices of Alabama Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) during the Annual Conference in Washington, DC. New South Chapter Government Relations Chair, Karan Christopher of McCord Communications, scheduled the appointments with the Senators’ staff members and other Chapter members joined her to share their ESOP story. The visits were successful and opened up the door for future Congressional visits to ESOP companies in the state of Alabama.   Left to right: Ed Ilano (Swerdlin & Company), Jodi Lamb (Big G Express), Andy Dickerson (McCord Communications), Karan Christopher (McCord Communications), Teresa Crosslin (Big G Express).

New South Chapter members visited the offices of Alabama Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) during the Annual Conference in Washington, DC. New South Chapter Government Relations Chair, Karan Christopher of McCord Communications, scheduled the appointments with the Senators’ staff members and other Chapter members joined her to share their ESOP story. The visits were successful and opened up the door for future Congressional visits to ESOP companies in the state of Alabama.
Left to right: Ed Ilano (Swerdlin & Company), Jodi Lamb (Big G Express), Andy Dickerson (McCord Communications), Karan Christopher (McCord Communications), Teresa Crosslin (Big G Express).

From left to right: Congressman Joe Courtney (D-CT), Congressman John B. Larson (D-CT), Steve Sabourin, GM of Carris Reels in Enfield, CT, and Congressman Richard E. Neal (D-MA). In an email from Steve Sabourin of Carris Reels:  “This was a great chance meeting at the airport after visiting Congressman Neal the day before.  Congressman Neal said he loved the way we do things.  I asked him what he meant.  Basically, he loved that employee owners were making visits.  I am guessing he sees this as better than a top exec or a lobbyist.”

From left to right: Congressman Joe Courtney (D-CT), Congressman John B. Larson (D-CT), Steve Sabourin, GM of Carris Reels in Enfield, CT, and Congressman Richard E. Neal (D-MA).
In an email from Steve Sabourin of Carris Reels:
“This was a great chance meeting at the airport after visiting Congressman Neal the day before. Congressman Neal said he loved the way we do things. I asked him what he meant. Basically, he loved that employee owners were making visits. I am guessing he sees this as better than a top exec or a lobbyist.”

Northwest Chapter President, Judy Lippel, Sletten, Inc., with Montana members of Congress on Capitol Hill:  Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), Congressman Steve Daines (R-MT) and Senator John E. Walsh (D-MT).

Northwest Chapter President, Judy Lippel, Sletten, Inc., with Montana members of Congress on Capitol Hill: Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), Congressman Steve Daines (R-MT) and Senator John E. Walsh (D-MT).

New England Chapter members visit with Congressman Richard E. Neal (D-MA).

New England Chapter members visit with Congressman Richard E. Neal (D-MA).

Illinois Chapter members visit with Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL).

Illinois Chapter members visit with Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL).

Illinois Chapter members visit with Congressman Brad Schneider (D-IL).

Illinois Chapter members visit with Congressman Brad Schneider (D-IL).

Filed under: Government Affairs, TEA Members, , , ,

SEL Employee Owners Share Experiences with Illinois Congressman

On June 5, 2014, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. (SEL) employee owners shared their perspectives on company ownership with Congressman Peter Roskam (R-IL) when he visited the company’s Fault Indicator and Sensor Division in Lake Zurich, Illinois.

This is Congressman Roskam’s second visit to SEL’s Lake Zurich facility. Last year, the Congressman toured the manufacturing floor and learned about SEL and the products and services it provides for power systems around the world. This time he watched a distribution automation smart grid demonstration and spoke with some of the 95 employee owners about the company’s ESOP.

Senior Manufacturing Supervisor Jose Perez, who has been with the company for nearly 25 years, said when SEL became employee-owned he went from just having a job to being an owner. Human Resources Generalist Linda Coleman, an employee for more than 29 years, noted she works with happier people in an employee-owned company, calling the retirement security “a blessing.”

Congressman Roskam indicated his strong support for ESOPs, which can help employees save for retirement, and Roskam encouraged those in attendance to continue talking about the benefits of ESOPs with their coworkers.

Thanks to SEL for sharing this news with the Association.

SEl Roskam visit

Filed under: Government Affairs, TEA Members, , , ,

Supreme Court ESOP Decision: Reaction & Commentary

ESOP Association President, J. Michael Keeling, offers the Association’s reaction to the recent Supreme Court ESOP decision as well as additional commentary for the ESOP community.

Read the Association’s release.

Filed under: Government Affairs, ,

Supreme Court ESOP Decision a Disappointing Mish-Mash

The ESOP Association sent out the following release today.

For Immediate Release: June 25, 2014

For More Information: Amy Gwiazdowski, 202/293-2971, amy AT esopassociation.org

Supreme Court ESOP Decision a Disappointing Mish-Mash

(Washington, DC) June 25, 2014: “Today’s Supreme Court decision that says Congress’s near 40 year history of promoting employee ownership does not protect fiduciaries of employee stock ownership plans, or ESOPs, from lawsuits triggered by company stock price declines, is a disappointing mish-mash,” said ESOP Association President, J. Michael Keeling.

President Keeling’s statement is in response to the Court’s decision in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer. Congress has sanctioned ESOPs since 1974, and since the Moench decision in the mid-1990s, and thus the so-called Moench presumption, that lower Federal courts have all upheld, created a presumption that the ESOP fiduciary should hold company stock unless the company was collapsing. It is this pro-ESOP position the Court overruled in today’s case. Part IV of the decision, relevant primarily to publicly-traded companies, sets forth standards for future lawsuits to be used by lower Federal Courts that strongly suggest that “dumping” company stock from the ESOP is not required when share price declines, and leaves a more muddied guideline for a publicly-traded company fiduciary acquiring more shares for the ESOP when the share price is declining. The Supreme Court gives no standard for the “extent” of decline that would perhaps require halting the acquisition of shares.

“So even though Part IV of the decision is not a flat out requirement that the fiduciary dump the company stock, or quit acquiring company stock for the ESOP, it is unclear guidance for fiduciaries of non-traded companies with ESOPs, which are 99% of the ESOP sponsors in the U.S., when the share value of the private company declines,” said Keeling.

In sum, how this opinion affects ESOP plan sponsors is a mish-mash: more guidance on when a fiduciary of an ESOP is not prudent when acquiring stock for the ESOP, and almost a clear statement that dumping the stock on the market is not prudent, while leaving fiduciaries of non-traded companies with ESOPs, which are nearly all the ESOPs in the U.S., without guidance. It will probably result in more lawsuits.

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The ESOP Association is the national trade association for companies with employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) and the leading voice in America for employee ownership. The core cause of The ESOP Association is the belief that employee ownership will improve American competitiveness, increase productivity through greater employee participation, and strengthen our free enterprise economy. More information: website – www.esopassociation.org and blog – www.esopassociationblog.org.

Filed under: Government Affairs,

New Pro-ESOP Bill, H.R. 4837

ESOP Association President, J. Michael Keeling, provides a legislative update to members regarding a new pro-ESOP bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, bill number H.R. 4837.

 

Filed under: Employee Ownership Message, Government Affairs, Member Services, ,

Pro-ESOP Bill Introduced in House

The ESOP Association sent out the following release today. We are also sharing the information with readers here.

For Immediate Release: June 12, 2014

Pro-ESOP Bill Introduced in House

June 12, 2014 (Washington, DC) – The ESOP Association expresses strong support for H.R. 4837, the Promotion and Expansion of Private Employee Ownership Act, introduced June 11, 2014 by Congressmen David G. Reichert (R-WA), Ron Kind (D-WI), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Charles W. Boustany, Jr. (R-LA), Richard E. Neal (D-MA), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), and Pat Tiberi (R-OH).

H.R. 4837 is similar to S. 742, which was introduced in early 2013 by a bi-partisan group of Senators led by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD). H.R. 4837 would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and the Small Business Act to expand the availability of employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) in S corporations.

“Research proves that ESOPs are more profitable, more productive, and provide sustainable jobs. We need policies to encourage employee stock ownership, and the proposed policies in H.R. 4837, modest in approach, should address core social issues such as adequate retirement security and making sure working Americans have an ownership stake in our capitalistic system,” stated ESOP Association President, J. Michael Keeling.

Keeling continued, “It is extremely pleasing to see these House members, all members of the House Ways and Means Committee, four Republicans and four Democrats, stand up for employee stock ownership through ESOPs. The ESOP Association notes its appreciation for the leadership role of its ally in the employee ownership community, the Employee-Owned S Corporations of America, in championing this new pro-ESOP legislation.”

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The ESOP Association is the national trade association for companies with employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) and the leading voice in America for employee ownership. The core cause of The ESOP Association is the belief that employee ownership will improve American competitiveness, increase productivity through greater employee participation, and strengthen our free enterprise economy. More information: website – www.esopassociation.org and blog – www.esopassociationblog.org.

Filed under: Employee Ownership Message, Government Affairs, , ,

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