On Thursday, November 7, 2013, Professor Joseph R. Blasi, a preeminent scholar in the field of employee ownership, J. Robert Beyster Professor, and sociologist at the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University, spoke to Conference attendees about the roots of employee ownership in America’s history.
Dr. Blasi spent two years researching his new book, The Citizen’s Share: Putting Ownership Back into Democracy, which he co-authored with Richard B. Freeman (Herbert Ascherman Professor of Economics at Harvard University) and Douglas L. Kruse (Professor of Industrial Relations and Human Resources and an economist at the School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University). During his presentation, he shared his thoughts and discoveries that went into the new book. Starting with the American Revolution, continuing through America’s first Presidential term with George Washington, the cod fishing industry — which was a pioneer in the advancement of average paid employees having a share of their efforts as a condition of a Federal government bailout — and covered the first major piece of legislation regarding stock ownership in America. He also talked about the involvement of several more US Presidents and notable historical figures, including John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. Dr. Blasi left a room of 1,000 plus listeners, and employee ownership enthusiasts, entranced.
“If you missed Dr. Blasi’s speech, you missed an education,” said ESOP Association President, J. Michael Keeling. “The information he shared was invaluable to our employee ownership cause. The history of the employee ownership movement is something all of us in this community should be aware of.”
Dr. Blasi’s new book, which covers the history of the employee stock ownership movement, will be available from Yale University Press on November 26, 2013; Kindle editions are now available as well as sample chapters on audio and other devices. The Employee Ownership Foundation will provide a copy of the book to anyone making a $100 contribution to the Foundation, with a limit of five books. Many of the Las Vegas Conference attendees did make contributions and received books. Many said they would give the book to their Representative and Senators.
Additional information about the book can be found on the Yale University Press website.
According to the Yale University Press: “The idea of workers owning the businesses where they work is not new. In America’s early years, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison believed that the best economic plan for the Republic was for citizens to have some ownership stake in the land, which was the main form of productive capital. This book traces the development of that share idea in American history and brings its message to today’s economy, where business capital has replaced land as the source of wealth creation. Based on a ten-year study of profit sharing and employee ownership at small and large corporations, this important and insightful work makes the case that the Founders’ original vision of sharing ownership and profits offers a viable path toward restoring the middle class. Blasi, Freeman, and Kruse show that an ownership stake in a corporation inspires and increases worker loyalty, productivity, and innovation. Their book offers history-, economics-, and evidence-based policy ideas at their best.”
“While many of us think we know the history of employee ownership, what we all need is a larger education, larger view, and larger historical perspective on how it all began to understand where it’s going,” said J. Michael Keeling. “Dr. Blasi takes the issue of employee ownership, and from reading his work, one knows just how passionately he feels about it, and makes it very accessible.”