cooperatives, collective bargaining, union, broad-based employee stock option plan, employee stock option plan
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In the United States, it seems that we cannot talk about democracy without discussing capitalism and vice versa. However, as soon as we step into work these ideals are simply thrown out the door. If we seek to govern our country democratically, should we also not have a democratic governance structure in our day to day workplaces? Unions have existed in the United States for over 150 years, but as the types of jobs that make up our economy and the demographics of the labor force have changed dramatically, the basic concept of the union has remained static. In turn, the divide between the workers and the owners of capital have increased exponentially. This has implications for inequality in the workplace and beyond. Is there a better way to give employees collective bargaining power, and if so, what kinds of taxation policy might promote these alternative labor structures? Answering this question will require an understanding of the dynamic changes in the labor force that have led to union membership decline during the late 20th and early 21st centuries when compared to the earlier years of the 20th century. I offer a number of case studies of less traditional workplace practices that may serve as alternatives to existing structures of business ownership and decision making. The alternative approaches I explore include: employee stock ownership plans (ESOP), broad-based employee stock ownership plans (BBESOP), and cooperatives. Finally, I offer a taxation policy proposal that incentivizes businesses to give their employees a share of business ownership.