WIN Short: Chobani Shares Profits with Employees

This is a production for Workers Independent News by Democracy at Work.

Hello. I want to tell you a story briefly of the Chobani Corporation, a company with 2000 employees that makes Greek style yogurt. It has been very successful over recent years and is now a company worth between 3 and 5 billion dollars. But what is important about that is not how successful the company has been but how it relates between the workers on the one hand and the leader ship, the CEO the owners of the business, on the other. The Owner is Hamdi Ulukayaa man of Turkish background who runs the company and who did something remarkable this last week. 

He decided that the success of his company was as much do to the workers as anything else and that therefore he should share a specific amount of profits with them. And he did so. He dished out a big share of profits with his 2000 workers. The average share given to the workers was worth $150,000. You heard me right. If you have been with the company longer than that you could earn as much as a share worth one million dollars.

The workers were ecstatic. But I don’t want to focus on the good luck they had. I want to focus on the reasoning of the employer Mr. Ulukaya. He said, ‘this company will do much better now that I have given workers shares in the company, shares that are worth a lot, shares that will make them and the company stronger and better off’. What an interesting idea.

Now let’s take it a step further. Suppose businesses everywhere were owned and operated by the workers together in them, that they were worker coops. You know what the logic of Mr Ulukaya says? Those worker coops would work even better, do more for the community, earn more money, have more profits and distribute them more to their own workers. What a though, what an understanding.


Showing 1 comment

  • commented 2016-05-07 07:38:58 -0400
    I posted this elsewhere and felt it appropriate to repost. On the Chobani story of its founder giving stocks to employees, that is great. Would love for Professor Wolff to have Mr. Ulukayaa as a guest on Economic Update.

    It reminded me of when I worked over 20 years ago at MCI, now-defunct long-distance phone company where I worked before WorldCom bought them out. I can’t remember the specifics, but MCI was coined as being “employee-owned” because employees could buy shares of company stock, I think for a reduced price (can’t remember that last part). The reason I was told for this was that having employees owning company stock was a hedge against hostile takeover by another corporation (presumably AT&T who was by far the big dog in that market even back then). So that was one reason for offering employees stock company stock, maybe this guy is wanting to keep Yoplait or whoever from taking over Chobani.
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