The 21st Century Antitrust Act is a groundbreaking piece of legislation that empowers everyday New Yorkers, and stops powerful corporations from rigging the rules of our economy.
By updating New York’s primary antitrust law, the bill provides workers, consumers, and local businesses with significant new protections, and puts New York at the forefront of the national fight against the corporate control of our economy and democracy.
It’s been over two years since the onset of the pandemic, and official reports reveal what New Yorkers know in their bones: local businesses and working people are still struggling.
71% of small businesses in New York are still experiencing negative effects from the pandemic. Businesses with 500 employees or less account for the overwhelming majority of firms in most industries in New York (with 462,263 such firms employing over 4 million people in 2018).
These businesses have been hit hard in part by supply-chain crises, driving shortages and price hikes for consumers. These crises originate in a decades-long pattern of corporate consolidation across our economy that has left us with fragile supply-chains, and insecure work arrangements – conditions rife for pandemic profiteers to exploit.
It’s abundantly clear that powerful corporations operate according to a different set of rules. As billionaire wealth grew by $1.3 trillion during the first year of the pandemic, New York’s status as one of the most unequal states in the country remains firmly entrenched, exacerbating long standing trends that hit hardest in communities of color.
Now with over 800,000 jobs lost in the state since the beginning of the pandemic, and a jobs deficit three times higher than the national average, it’s clear that something is broken. There’s a stark divide between what New Yorkers need, and what powerful corporations are offering.
The 21st Century Antitrust Act offers a powerful response to this challenge, updating New York’s century-old antitrust statute and putting workers at the heart of antitrust law — where they belong.
This bill ensures that dominant corporations can’t use their power to unfairly depress wages, downgrade working conditions and benefits, fix prices, exploit local businesses, and more.
Major aspects of the bill include:
- Protections for Local Businesses: Instead of allowing them to compete on the merits, powerful corporations often strong arm local businesses into signing exploitative contracts that don’t provide consumers with improved products or services. This bill empowers local businesses to challenge these and other strong arm tactics by dominant corporations in court. The bill also directs the Attorney General to prioritize the importance of small and medium-sized businesses when drafting guidance on how the act will be interpreted and enforced.
- Holding Powerful Corporations Accountable: The bill creates a new “abuse of dominance” standard that places greater legal responsibilities on large corporations. The bill establishes a more reasonable definition of when corporations can be considered “dominant,” and empowers enforcers, workers, consumers and local businesses to hold them legally accountable when they abuse that dominance. The bill also amends state law to address harmful conduct perpetrated by a single firm, rather than conduct between multiple parties only. The bill does not make it illegal for companies to be big, it makes it illegal to abuse one’s size to unfairly harm local competitors, workers, or consumers.
- Class Action Protections: Small businesses, consumers, and workers will gain the ability to band together to sue large corporations for engaging in predatory behavior – closing an existing loophole in New York antitrust law.
- Protections for Consumers and Workers: The bill would provide workers and consumers with a range of new protections. The use of non-compete and no-poach agreements that deny workers the freedom to look for a better job would be evidence of a company’s abuse of dominance The Attorney General is also empowered to draft rules to carry out the purpose of the act, prohibiting predatory behavior by dominant corporations and scams targeting consumers, workers, or other parties.
- Saving Jobs and Curbing Corporate Recklessness: For decades, corporations have engaged in short-sighted mergers and acquisitions, with little concern for the overall impact on workers, consumers, or the broader public. This bill would also empower the Attorney General to review proposed mega-mergers, and the impact that such deals have on jobs.
By passing the Twenty-First Century Antitrust Act, New York will reaffirm that the goal of antitrust law is to prevent the abuse of power by large corporations, and stop predatory and unfair conduct once and for all.
|Twenty-First Century Antitrust Act
|Current NY Antitrust Law
– Market share threshold 40% to establish dominance; and 30% for suppliers and workers
– Covers unfair conduct by a single firm against other firms or workers
– New protections expressly protect workers from employer dominance and illegal mergers
– AG gets advance notice of mergers to protect New Yorkers from harmful effects of corporate deals
|-Market share threshold 70-90%
-Only covers acts by multiple firms acting together
-Workers are covered in theory, but not always in practice
-AG is not entitled to advance notice of mergers, even by New York firms
New York Communities for Change
Make the Road New York
Teamsters Joint Council 16
American Economic Liberties Project
Family Farm Action
Fight Corporate Monopolies
Future of Music Coalition
Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition
Institute for Local Self-Reliance
Small Business Rising
Main Street Alliance
People’s Parity Project
Tompkins County Workers’ Center
National Employment Law Project
DRUM – Desis Rising Up & Moving
United Auto Workers Region 9A
American Booksellers Association
Independent Office Products and Furniture Dealers Association
North American Hardware and Paint Association
Westchester Independent Business Alliance
Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU)
Retail Action Project
New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health
Jews for Racial and Economic Justice
Tech Workers Coalition
Strong Economy for All
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Music Workers Alliance
NY State Coalition Hispanic Chambers of Commerce
LGBTQS Chamber of Commerce
National Association of Latino State Chambers of Commerce
Save My Mom and Pop Business Coalition
NY NJ Regional Joint Board, Workers United/SEIU
CWA District 1
Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE)
Open Markets Institute
Center for Popular Democracy
Jobs with Justice
Mobilization for Justice
United for Respect
Teamsters Local 210
Teamsters Local 808
Teamsters Local 812
Teamsters Local 456
Teamsters Local 804
Teamsters Local 533
Teamsters Local 445
Empire State Indivisible
Teamsters Local 813
Alliance for Quality Education
Restaurant Opportunities Center – New York
Professional Staff Congress, AFT Local 2334
Public Rights Project
Jobs to Move America
Citizen Action of New York
Community Voices Heard
Laundry Workers Center
Tech Oversight Project
American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA)
UAW Local 2325
UAW Local 2320
UAW Local 2110
UAW Local 7902
UAW Local 4100
UAW Local 259
Teamsters Joint Council 46
Teamsters Local 449