US antitrust official says competition in labor markets is a major concern


WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 (Reuters) – The acting head of the US Department of Justice’s antitrust division said on Friday that labor markets were a top priority for enforcement efforts, indicating a move towards issues set by the White House decree on competition.

While antitrust authorities have brought labor antitrust cases in the past and the Trump administration’s Justice Department brought one against a no-poaching agreement between railway equipment suppliers in 2018, they are rare. .

“The division has become increasingly alert and concerned about the conduct of business and transactions that hurt competition for workers,” Richard Powers, acting head of the division, said at a conference in New York .

Powers added that the coronavirus pandemic has made the focus on work even more critical. “While it was important for authorities to protect competition in labor markets decades ago, and I think it was, it is essential now,” he said.

He called any violation of the antitrust law to keep wages “just as sunk as agreements to fix product prices and divide markets, conduct the division has pursued for over 100 years.” Powers added that the division was investing “considerable time and resources” in labor markets.

Two of the most frequently criticized targets in labor markets are no-poaching agreements, in which companies agree not to hire the workers of others, and non-competition agreements, in which workers sign contracts. ‘pledging not to go to work for a rival.

Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Dan Grebler

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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