Economy 3.0: Employees as Owners

As we start to climb out of the recession we were in and enter into what some are calling Economy 3.0, a new trend is emerging. More and more bankrupt companies are being bought or given to their employees.

The Times of Northwest Indiana reported on June 26, 2009 that unionized workers at the Gary Post-Tribune want to purchase the newspaper from the bankrupt Sun-Times Media Group. The Gary Newspaper Guild has the support of its national union and a Massachusetts consulting firm that helped an employee group purchase some of Maine’s largest papers from the Seattle Times Co. The Sun-Times Media Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March of 2009.

The UAW, a union of automobile manufacturing employees, now owns 55% of Chrysler/Fiat and 39% of General Motors, according to USA Today. Both car companies underwent bankruptcies in the Spring of 2009, both helped along by the Obama administration. So is this trend one of the people or are the people following the government’s example?

Maybe the government learned it from the people. In 2007 a group of former employees in Culver City, California bought their employer Small World Toys Inc. out of bankruptcy for $12.5 million.

It would be hard under normal circumstances to get enough employees together to do anything singular with thier money, but having their employer go bankrupt seems to have a rallying effect amoung the people. If this trend turns out to be good for the employees over time, maybe more employees will band together before their employer goes bankrupt and have a larger stake in their employers future – as part owners.