NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Workers As Owners

September 2, 1997

Some commentators note that workers have indeed made recent strides -- although not necessarily those trumpeted by leaders of organized labor. What has changed is the number of employees who own stock in their companies. Workers aren't trying to battle corporate America, analysts say; they're trying to buy it.

  • About 8.7 million workers were in Employee Stock Ownership Plans last year, according to the National Center for Employee Ownership.
  • Another two million had money invested in 401(k) plans, most in their companies' stock.
  • Five million had money invested in stock option plans, up from just one million in 1990.

At this rate of growth, such option plans will soon outstrip private sector union membership. While unions and ESOPs can coexist, observers believe that the arrangement tends to blur the distinction between what "management" and "labor" want, since they are, in effect, partners.


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