For Immediate Release: February 23, 2022
Media Contact: Lisa Thomas, firstname.lastname@example.org, (347) 415-6431
Watch today’s press conference here.
Bronx Small Businesses, Labor Unions, NY State Legislators
Call for Updated Anti-Monopoly Laws
21st Century Antitrust Act would put New York at the forefront of the national fight against corporate control over the economy
NEW YORK – Today, Bronx small business owners, labor unions, New York State legislators, and advocates from the New Yorkers for a Fair Economy coalition held a press conference outside of the New Green Earth Food Corp bodega in the Bronx, calling on the New York State legislature to hold abusive corporations accountable by updating anti-monopoly laws with the 21st Century Antitrust Act.
In attendance were State Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz, lead sponsors of the bill in the state legislature; Francisco Marte, bodega owner and founder of the Bodega & Small Business Association; Rev. Carmen Hernandez, President of the NYS Coalition of Hispanic Chambers of Commerce; Anthony Rosario, UPS driver and Teamsters Local 804 steward; and workers and advocates from Teamsters Joint Council 16, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, Strategic Organizing Center, New York Communities for Change, and ALIGN NY. Speakers shared stories of corporate mistreatment and demanded the State Legislature take action.
In industry after industry, huge companies have been allowed to bully small businesses through anticompetitive practices. Mom and pop stores in the Bronx are being run out of business by abusive corporations that unfairly dominate the market. Workers are suffering with low wages and poor working conditions as businesses struggle to survive. And big tech corporations like Amazon have moved in, resulting in skyrocketing rents that leave tenants and small businesses vulnerable, and harmful pollution that contributes to the highest asthma rates in NYC. The Bronx is a microcosm of what’s happening all over New York State, where power is in the hands of a few dominant monopolies.
“Bodega owners like me have been hit hard by the pandemic and the supply-chain crisis, while companies like Amazon see their profits soar,” said Francisco Marte, owner of the New Green Earth Food Corp bodega and founder of the Bodega & Small Business Association. “They can keep so much inventory and deliver goods at dangerously fast rates—I can’t compete with that. I just want more people to come to my bodega, and to serve my community’s needs. I want the Bronx to remain a community full of thriving small businesses, and to do that we must address the problem of monopolies in New York State.”
“Antitrust law has real consequences for working people and consumers throughout the country because too much power is in the hands of too few corporations that hurt workers, gouge consumers, and tell governments how to set policy,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. “More than any other time in history, there are a very small number of people with dangerous amounts of power over all aspects of our lives. That’s why I’m fighting for the 21st Century Antitrust Act and am grateful for all those joining us in solidarity.”
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said, “In the 133 years since New York enacted our last major anti-monopoly regulation, we have continued to see an erosion of these important protections that is resulting in direct harm to mom and pop stores right here in our own community. Colossal corporations are abusing their dominance in the market and are driving down wages, incentivizing businesses to maintain shoddy workplace conditions, and choking off profit margins for small businesses that are owned by regular, everyday Bronxites and other New Yorkers. It’s time for us to stand up for these entrepreneurs and update the law by passing the 21st Century Antitrust Act.”
“Monopoly power is the single biggest threat facing small, independent businesses in New York and across the country. With this bill, New York is leading the way to establish simple and effective tools for New York small businesses to protect themselves against anti-competitive tactics by corporations. We’re calling on state leaders to level the playing field for small businesses and entrepreneurs by supporting the 21st Century Antitrust Act,” said Katy Milani, Senior Policy Advocate at Small Business Rising.
“My mom was a street vendor here in the Bronx, so supporting mom and pop stores has been personal as I’ve spent my life organizing with small business owners, making sure we empower each other and our neighborhoods,” said Rev. Carmen Hernandez, President of the NYS Coalition Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “Small businesses and communities working hand in hand is a partnership for life. But we can’t do it alone. We need the New York State Legislature to update our anti-monopoly laws so businesses have a chance to compete and thrive.”
“When corporations are too powerful, they can set wages and working conditions for the entire industry. As a proud Teamster in the package delivery industry, I see how Amazon pays drivers half as much as we make to do the same jobs, without the same benefits or pension. They have also increased workloads, decreased safety standards and started weekend deliveries. This affects not only Amazon workers but also me, my coworkers, and our families. At the end of the day, how much power are we going to allow monopoly corporations like Amazon to have over our work and our lives? New Yorkers need the 21st Century Antitrust Act now!” said Anthony Rosario, Teamsters Local 804 steward.
“The greed of mega-corporations has run rampant during the pandemic as profits soared at the expense of the health and safety of their employees and mom and pop shops in our neighborhoods,” said Assemblymember Karines Reyes, a co-sponsor of the bill. “We have an opportunity to empower our small businesses to stand up to large corporations through the 21st Century Antitrust Act. I stand in support of this act because I know it will protect the local businesses in my district as well as across our state.”
“Small businesses are the heart and soul of our economy, and proudly serve our communities. Sadly, many of these establishments, including our mom-and-pop shops, have closed their doors due to abusive practices by large corporate entities. This is wrong and it only hurts hard-working individuals. I urge my colleagues to support and pass the 21st Century Antitrust Act because we deserve an economy that works for everyone,” said Bronx Assemblymember Kenny Burgos.
“Corporate abuse in New York and around the country is rampant. Big Tech is undermining small businesses’ ability to compete, leaving our favorite mom-and-pop stores shuttered. Wages and working conditions are at the whim of a handful of corporations that continue to put profit over the well-being of employees. The 21st Century Antitrust Act is the country’s most aggressive antitrust legislation. It will level the playing field for small businesses while providing more protections for workers and consumers.” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN, a key leader in the New Yorkers for a Fair Economy coalition.
“The 21st Century Antitrust Act is a strong and critical step toward renewing antitrust enforcement. Decades of misguided court decisions have warped federal antitrust policy, allowing monopolies like Amazon to engage in predatory and abusive tactics that harm smaller businesses, workers, and vibrant local economies and communities. By establishing clear rules stopping dominant corporations from abusing their power, this legislation is critical to safeguard democracy and create new vitality in struggling rural and urban areas alike,” said Stacy Mitchell, Co-Director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.
Legislation like the 21st Century Antitrust Act would hold big tech and big business accountable by limiting their share of the market, ensuring that dominant corporations can’t abuse their power. By updating New York’s current antitrust law, the bill would provide workers, consumers, and local businesses with significant new protections and put New York at the forefront of the national fight against corporate control over the economy.
Livestream coverage is available on ALIGN NY’s Facebook Page. Photos available upon request.
About New Yorkers for a Fair Economy
New Yorkers for a Fair Economy (NYFE) is a coalition of labor organizations, small businesses, and immigrant and community organizations uniting to safeguard our communities from abusive practices of big corporations and achieve an economy that works for all New Yorkers. This coalition includes the frontline workers who care and provide for our communities, the small businesses that provide essential services that we need, the community organizations that protect the environment and the dignity of Black, brown, immigrant and gender-oppressed communities that make up our diverse state. NYFE is led by ALIGN (Alliance for a Greater New York), which also led the NY Essential Workers Coalition that won the passage of the NY HERO Act earlier this year. NYFE is also joined by labor unions Teamsters Joint Council 16, Retail Wholesale, and Department Store Union; community groups New York Communities for Change and Make the Road New York; and national research and advocacy organizations Institute for Local Self Reliance, American Economic Liberties Project, and Strategic Organizing Center.