Update: The Senate and House have passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, which will be signed into law soon!
The Senate is taking steps toward passing a nearly $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package (Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023) needed before Christmas Eve to avert a partial government shutdown. This bill includes a huge victory for worker ownership through the Worker Ownership and Readiness and Knowledge Act, co-sponsored by Senator Sanders (D-VT) and Senator Moran (R-KS).
The legislation appropriates $50 million over five years to create the Employee Ownership Initiative within the Department of Labor to promote employee ownership, by supporting new and existing state employee ownership programs, including:
- Federal grants toward state employee ownership programs that provide education and outreach about the possibilities and benefits of employee ownership and business succession planning.
- Funding projects to gather data and and information about state employee ownership programs
- Acting as a clearinghouse on best practices within employee ownership and disseminating that information
The Employee Ownership Initiative, if passed, would be the first federal worker ownership grant program from the Department of Labor.
Important notes about the Employee Ownership Initiative:
- Will require the Secretary to consult with the Department of Treasury.
- Must be established within 180 days of the enactment of the omnibus bill.
- Includes education and outreach regarding financial education, employee teams, open-book management, and seeking greater employee input.
- Includes technical assistance for conversions, including feasibility studies.
- Training entities to apply for funding for the above uses.
- Provides for the development and fostering of networks of employee-owned companies.
- Begins in fiscal year 2025, with grant caps per recipient starting at $300,000 in 2025 up to $439,200 in 2029, and an appropriation of $4 million in 2025 to $16 million in 2029.
- Requires recipients to submit an annual report describing grant uses.
- Requires that the Secretary submit a report to congress on progress related to employee ownership, including costs and benefits of the program.
- Includes funding starting in 2024 to administer the program.
This bill is expected to move swiftly through Congress this week, through the Senate and then through the House. If passed, the Employee Ownership Initiative would create major opportunities for state-driven worker ownership education, outreach, and support. The USFWC will keep our community up-to-date on developments and opportunities to advocate.
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