ICA’s history of working on policy dates back to our earliest days when ICA drafted and helped pass the first incorporation statute for worker cooperatives in the country. We were instrumental in ensuring that many of the tax benefits for Employee Stock Ownership Plans applied equally to cooperatives, particularly the insertion of the capital gains deferment for cooperatives under section 1042 of the IRS code. It was ICA staff that developed the framework and legal clearance to allow pass through voting in ESOPs and we have conducted research and analysis for the state employee ownership centers in Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, and Ohio. Today, we are working with allies in the social enterprise space to create greater access to government data to measure the outcomes of various initiatives, and still plugging away at the state and federal tax code to strengthen the opportunities for conversion of small business to worker cooperatives.
Today, much of our policy work stems from our coordinated industry focused approach to changing the workforce. Simply put, starting co-ops or social enterprises is too slow a mechanism to displace the employers that far too often ignore the needs of workers. In this vein we work to develop firms that can serve as a model for others in their industry and create institutions that can cement these best practices and act as a legitimate voice within the industry to call for both formal and informal change. This is the approach that guided our support for Cooperative Home Care Associates and PHI in their efforts to reform the home care and nursing home sectors, and it’s what guides our efforts in the temporary staffing sector. Whether it’s helping formulate long term, systemic change, or determining what small policy changes can help move make a difference in the short term, ICA continues to work to democratize the economy.