ESOP’s Unsung Hero: Shining a Light on ESOP History

A few years back, while searching The ESOP Association’s office library, we came across a nondescript blue notebook. A closer look found it contained the letters of Judson T. Bradford of the W.J. Bradford Paper Company located in Holland, MI. Mr. Bradford put the notebook together in the summer of 1987 chronicling his work to expand employee ownership in the state of Michigan, and in the U.S., starting in the early 60s and ending in 1975.

The Association wrote about the notebook in the January 2003 issue of the ESOP Report calling Mr. Bradford “…an unsung hero of the employee ownership movement.” Mr. Bradford’s 30 year campaign led to the introduction of what is probably the first pro employee ownership bill in Congress and helped to get employee ownership on the 1968 Republican Party platform.

You can read the full ESOP Report article here.

The notebook is full of letters to several notable individuals including President Gerald Ford, Michigan Governor George Romney, father of the presumptive Republican Nominee for President, Mitt Romney, Jacob Javits and Guy Vander Jagt, prominent members of Congress at the time. It also contains information on speeches and the first bill introduced in the U.S. Congress that supported the concept of broadened employee ownership.

Mr. Bradford wrote a short introduction dated July 31, 1987 stating the following:

“I believe in the employee ownership stock movement. I believe that it is just in the beginning of ascendency at the present time. I believe it is going to be a very important economic, social and political force in the United States in the decades ahead. I believe that the employee stock ownership movement will also be of significant and growing importance in other countries of the world during the twenty-first century.”

We thought we would share with you a few of the pages Mr. Bradford has documented from his work.

(Click on the letters to enlarge for reading.)

According to the notebook:

“The first speech (that I know of) by a major political leader recommending that the concept of broadening employee stock ownership become part of the economic policy of his party before a major economic forum ( the speech of Senator Jacob Javits to the Economic Club of Detroit on March 21, 1966).

According to the notebook:

“The first policy statement (that I know of) by either major political party on the importance of the concept of broadening employee stock ownership to the economic health of the nation (Minority Views in the Report of the Joint Economic Committee of the Congress of the United States on the January 1967 Economic Report to the President.)

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