Democratic Control of Corporations

Suggestions for an Agenda of Action


Source: Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy
  • Revoking the charters of especially harmful or abusive corporations under existing laws as in New York, Washington, Wisconsin, Main. Most states still have provisions in their corporation such as Section 1101 of the New York Business Corporation Law which specifies dissolution when corporation act "contrary to the public policy of the state."
  • Rechartering corporations to limit their powers and make them entities subordinate to the sovereign people, by e.g., granting charters for limited time periods requiring approval by communities and workers to continue in existence, making corporate managers and directors liable for corporate harms, etc.
  • Reducing the size of corporations by breaking them up into smaller units with less power to undermine elections, lawmaking, judicial proceedings and education; restricting size and capitalization of corporations; prohibiting one corporation from owning another corporation (some of which was accomplished by the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935).
  • Establishing worker and/or community control over production units of corporations to protect the "reliance interest" and other rights of workers and communities. This can be done by writing rules directly into corporate charters, such as prohibiting the hiring of replacement workers during strikes, requiring independent health and safety audits by experts chosen by workers and affected communities, and banning use of deadly chemicals, such as chlorine.
  • Initiating referendum campaigns, or taking action through state legislatures--and in the courts--to end constitutional protections for corporate "person" and to require state attorneys general to undertake charter revocation or rechartering actions when petitioned by citizen groups.
  • Prohibiting corporations from making campaign contributions to candidates in any elections, and from lobbying any local, state and federal government bodies.
  • Stopping extortion and "subsidy abuse" by which large corporations rake off billions of dollars from human taxpayers through direct payoffs and tax breaks.
  • Launching campaigns to cap salaries of corporate officials and tie them to a ratio of average compensation levels of production workers (say, 5:1 or 10:1), to gain greater transparency in corporate decision-making, and to end corporate tax deductions for legal fees, advertising and fines.
  • Encouraging worker and community-owned and -controlled cooperatives and other alternatives to conventional limited liability profit-making corporations by using law and the public treasury.
  • Preparing a model state corporation code based on the principle of citizen sovereignty and campaigning for its adoption, state-by-state.
  • Invigorating from the grassroots up a national debate on the relationship between public property, private property (including future value), and the rights of natural persons, communities and other species when they are in conflict, and on the role of the law in resolving such conflicts in a democracy.

For additional information contact:
Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy


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