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21st Century Antitrust Act would protect workers, consumers, and small businesses from abusive corporate dominance

Albany, NY (May 25, 2022) – Today, unions and advocates applauded the New York State Senate for passing the 21st Century Antitrust Act, trailblazing legislation that updates the state’s outdated monopoly laws; levels the playing field for workers, consumers, and small businesses; and makes New York a leader in the fight to rein in corporate power. New Yorkers for a Fair Economy, the coalition of labor unions, small businesses, and community organizations behind the bill, led by ALIGN, also urged the Assembly and Governor Hochul to take swift action to pass the legislation.

The Senate passed the 21st Century Antitrust Act (S933C/A1812A) by a vote of 36-25. If passed into law, the bill would provide clear, measurable criteria to assess a company’s dominance over a community and prevent corporations from using market power to harm their competitors, customers, and workers. It would also further empower New York’s attorney general to investigate corporate price gouging and allow consumers to sue when monopolies use their market power to unfairly increase prices—of particular importance amid soaring inflation. The win comes on the heels of an escalated push from the coalition to pass the legislation this month, including the release of reports detailing the bill’s critical impact on New York’s workers and small businesses.

“We are seeing critical industries fall apart because of corporate concentration, and the current shortage of formula is an example of how monopolized markets are directly hurting our families. It is unacceptable that we allow monopolies to continue to make record profits while lowering standards for workers and stifling competition for small businesses. The 21st Century Antitrust Act will give New York the tools to take back power and control of our economy. We applaud the New York State Senate for passing this bill today and urge the New York State Assembly and Governor Hochul to join this critical effort,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN, leader of the New Yorkers for a Fair Economy coalition.

“From high gas prices to declining wages in the logistics industry, we are seeing the impact of our weak antitrust laws,” said Thomas Gesualdi, President, Teamsters Joint Council 16. “Corporations have grown so powerful that they control our supply chains and can dictate working conditions for entire industries. Workers need the 21st Century Antitrust Act to hold the Amazons of the world accountable and to protect the job standards we have established in New York. Thank you Deputy Majority Leader Gianaris for championing this legislation. Next we need the Assembly to take swift action to send this urgent legislation to the Governor.”

“Workers need our elected officials to hold big corporations accountable for what they are doing to our jobs,” said Simone Martin, a UPS package car driver and member of Teamsters Local 804. “Package delivery used to be a respected profession, but Amazon is tarnishing my job. Amazon cuts corners on safety and pays just a few dollars over minimum wage for what is supposed to be a middle-class job. I’m worried that if Amazon gets away with doing this work on the cheap, the union employers will either come down to their level or lose business. Thank you to Deputy Majority Leader Gianaris and the Senate—now we need the Assembly and the Governor to follow suit and protect workers.”

“New York’s existing antitrust laws are outdated and urgently in need of reform to properly protect workers and communities from the growing concentration of corporate power. You only have to look at Amazon and its impact on workers and communities to know that we have a crisis on our hands. Thankfully, New York is helping lead the way with the 21st Century Antitrust Act. I congratulate the New York State Senate and Senator Gianaris on passing this important bill, and call on the State Assembly to do the same so we can create a level playing field and to protect good union jobs before it is too late,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President RWDSU.

“Corporations abuse their power in New York to monopolize markets, drag down wages and working conditions, and harm local businesses and communities. By passing the 21st Century Antitrust Act, the New York Senate took a critical step toward addressing those abuses,” said Pat Garofalo, director of state and local policy at the American Economic Liberties Project. “We commend Sen. Gianaris for his leadership on this vital issue. The New York Assembly must now pass this legislation swiftly and send it to Gov. Hochul. And other states should look to the New York Senate bill as an example of how to address their own corporate power challenges.”

Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance applauded the Senate’s action saying, “The New York Senate’s passage of the 21st Century Antitrust Act is a win for New York’s small businesses, working people, and communities. For too long, dominant corporations have been allowed to corner markets and rig the game in their own favor. We urgently need to restore fair competition to ensure that communities across the state can thrive. With the passage of the 21st Century Antitrust Act, the Senate has taken the first important step toward doing that. We urge the Assembly to quickly follow suit.”

“The coronavirus pandemic has thrust restaurant businesses, most especially the small mom-and-pop restaurants, into uncertainty. Many of them have struggled to find the right direction amid shifting regulations and new innovations. On the other hand, because giant corporation-owned restaurants—most of them are food chains across the country—have larger resources, they dictate the labor market, putting restaurant workers and businesses in unfair economic conditions. Therefore, the antitrust bill is essential to promote fair market economics and healthy competition, and check the abuses that may arise,” said Rev. Prabhu Sigamani, Director, ROC-NY.

“The rise of mega Corporate monopolies like Amazon across NY state have decimated our state, leading to shuttering small businesses, worse workplace conditions, price gouging and more. New York’s century-old antitrust laws must be updated to take on today’s 21st century Monopolies to make our economy fair for every day New Yorkers and not the billionaires,” said Gwendolyn Allison, Member of New York Communities for Change. “We need New York to lead the nation and for the Assembly and Governor Hochul to follow the Senate’s lead and pass the 21st century Antitrust Act.”

“The continued concentration of power by large corporations, which has directly contributed to rising income inequality and erosion of hard-fought worker protections, has gone unaddressed long enough,” said Beverley Brakeman, United Auto Workers Region 9A Director. “We thank Deputy Majority Leader Gianaris for his leadership and the Senate for passing the 21st Century Antitrust Act today. We urge the Assembly to immediately follow suit and deliver this bill to Governor Hochul so that she can sign it into law to protect not only workers, but all New Yorkers.”

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) and includes labor unions Teamsters Joint Council 16, Retail Wholesale, and Department Store Union, UAW Region 9A; community groups New York Communities for Change, Make the Road New York, and Restaurant Opportunities Center New York; and national research and advocacy organizations Institute for Local Self Reliance, American Economic Liberties Project, and Strategic Organizing Center.