Bernie Sanders floats plan to ban large-scale stock buybacks, let workers elect board members

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Monday released his "Corporate Accountability and Democracy Plan" that includes a ban on large-scale stock buybacks and a requirement for certain companies to let workers elect nearly half their board of directors.

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"For too long, these greedy corporate CEOs have rigged the tax code, killed market competition, and crushed the lives and power of workers and communities across America," Sanders said in his plan. "They got away with it through a broken campaign finance system, where a few large campaign donations can get you the ear of any politician."

Sanders released his plan as he and rival Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Warren engage in a "Battle of the Taxes." The liberal New Englanders have laid out progressive proposals and in recent weeks they have unveiled dueling tax plans that target the nation's most wealthy citizens in their competition to win voters with promises of a more equitable economy.

Warren rolled out a plan she described as "the most progressive and comprehensive agenda for workers since the New Deal" earlier this month.

Her far-reaching plan encompasses unions, a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage and rights for domestic workers.

Sander's new plan touches on the proposed federal minimum wage increase too, but focuses on employee ownership. If workers had ownership stakes in their companies and an equal say on corporate boards, CEO-worker pay disparity would decrease, he claims.

"Study after study has shown that employee ownership increases employment, increases productivity, increases sales, and increases wages in the United States," the plan reads. "This is in large part because employee-owned businesses boost employee morale, dedication, creativity and productivity, because workers share in profits and have more control over their own work lives."

In addition, Sanders' plan:

  • Requires that 45 percent of the board of directors of certain corporations (like those with at least $100 million in annual revenue) be directly elected by the firm's workers.
  • Repeals a Securities and Exchange Commission rule so that large-scale corporate stock buybacks are treated as stock manipulation.
  • Mandates all publicly traded companies provide at least 2 percent of stock to workers every year until the company is at least 20 percent employee-owned.
  • Review and possibly undo all mergers that have taken place during the Trump administration.

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The plan's release comes ahead of the Democratic debate on Tuesday.