If you are bored by economics, read no further.
Suppose the name value that a business is built upon is not owned by the owners alone.
Suppose that the owners of Levi Strauss own only the land, factory, machines and supplies of Levi Strauss but not the labor or the business concept known as Levi Strauss.
Suppose the owners of Levi Strauss decide to shut down the factory, and sell off the machines in the United States, so as to open up a sweat shop in Haiti in order to save money on labor.
In the past, the workers in America had no choice but to accept the decision made by the owners and executives of Levi Strauss.
But what if the workers could say to Levi Strauss: You may own the factory, the land, the machines, the raw materials and the supplies, but you don’t own the business entity known as Levi Strauss?
What if the workers said to Levi Strauss: We own that concept known as Levi Strauss. We built that company. You can’t sell it without our permission and without compensating us. And you have to give us the right of first refusal in purchasing that company from you. And we get to set the price, not you.
So go ahead Mr. Owner; you go right ahead and sell the buildings and the machines and the land. Good luck in setting up a Levi Strauss sweatshop in Haiti. We will block you, and we will win.
Had workers had this ability in the United States, none of this deindustrialization would have taken place.
The intellectual persona that is Levi Strauss would belong in large part to the employees and the workers.
This is fair because the name and concept of Levi Strauss was enlarged by the workers.
Levi Strauss never would have become the name it became if Levi Strauss, the man himself, had to manufacture his own jeans.
There is tremendous dollar value embedded into the name and concept of a business.
In the past, the workers received none of that dollar value.
The workers of today would be correct in filing claims against Levi Strauss for theft of that dollar value.
But it’s not just the workers at Levi Strauss who can file a claim against Levi Strauss, it’s the community itself.
The governments that spend money to build roads that lead to the Levi Strauss factory also have a claim.
So do the ancillary businesses that arise to serve the community that is enlarged by Levi Strauss. Those workers in those businesses made a commitment in time and energy that they could have spent elsewhere.
When pigs come in and destroy the American factories of Levi Strauss, the entire community suffers.
Pigs and corporate raiders unfairly robbed value from those communities and ancillary businesses.
These pigs must compensate those communities.
Let the pigs and corporate raiders have their foreign sweatshops, but let them have none of the name value of Levi Strauss or other top brands.
How about them apples?
That would shake things up.
It would have two effects. It would prevent or help prevent corporate raiders from disenfranchising the society that built up the name value of the product.
It would force a transfer of wealth from Corporate America to regular people. Levi Strauss would have to pony up billions and give those dollars back to the workers.
Or, Levi Strauss could put those factories back in the United States – but with a difference. Since we now know that the value of the company comes through the name that the workers build up, the workers will now control the game.
That means they get more money.
In essence then, what we are saying is that as a business grows, the name value (that the workers build up) grows to the point that the workers then control the company.
Is this fair to the man Levi Strauss? It certainly is, because the workers were making Levi Strauss the man fabulously wealthy as the company was growing. Furthermore, Levi Strauss the man received the prestige of having his name on the company. That prestige was engendered by the workers.
What Levi Strauss (and his successors) does not gain is the ability to fire all those workers, take the name and goodwill that was built up, and hire cheap labor in China so that he can get even wealthier. That, my friend, is abandonment.
And that is what transpired in the United States during the 1980s.
Copyright 2022 Archer Crosley All Rights Reserved