The late George S. Pillsbury, a Pillsbury executive who went on to distinguish himself as a bipartisan-oriented Republican in the Minnesota Legislature in the 1970s and 1980s, also was interested in spreading the wealth. He and his late wife, Sally, who died this year, were actively engaged philanthropists. George Pillsbury also liked to see employees become owners of the companies for which they labored. That’s a growing trend through Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) and otherwise.

Pillsbury’s son, Charlie, has established a research fellowship in employee ownership and profit-sharing in honor of his dad at the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations, the academic institute dedicated to researching capital shares and their impact on the economy. It’s a leader in the ESOP-study space.

The recipient of the 2018-19 George S. Pillsbury Fellowship is Carla Ilten, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She will study the support systems needed for employee-share ownership. “George Pillsbury enthusiastically supported broader employee share ownership and he understood its relevance to addressing economic inequality,” said Joseph Blasi, a national scholar in the employee-ownership world. “George’s grandfather, Charles A. Pillsbury, established a world-famous profit sharing plan at the Pillsbury flour mills in Minnesota in 1882.

“He also advised and supported a local employee-owned barrel industry, which produced shipping containers for the Pillsbury mills with local worker cooperatives. The Pillsbury family later introduced one of the first broad-based stock option plans.” Said Charlie Pillsbury, who lives in the Boston area: “My father believed in universal capitalism As a beneficiary himself of capital ownership, he thought that everyone should benefit from ownership. Not just the very few.”

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