Historic Antitrust Legislation to Rein in Dominant Corporations Heads For Approval in New York State Senate

Date: 7 Jun 2021 | posted in: Press Release | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Landmark Antitrust Legislation to Rein in Dominant Corporations Heads For Approval in New York State Senate

21st Century Antitrust Act would protect workers and consumers, level the playing field for small businesses, and put New York at the vanguard of national antitrust movement

Albany, NY (June 7, 2021) – As the New York State Senate prepares to pass historic legislation, a broad coalition of unions, industry associations, workers, and small business owners today applauded the Senate’s expected approval of the bill, and called on the New York State Assembly to vote on the 21st Century Antitrust Act before the legislative session concludes at the end of the week. The closely-watched vote on the New York legislation is helping build momentum for similar action currently under consideration at the federal level. 

Authored by State Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, the sweeping reforms in the 21st Century Antitrust Act would simplify and strengthen New York’s antimonopoly laws, and would expand what kinds of harmful conduct the law can address. Among other measures, the bill would:

  • Lead to clear, bright-line rules prohibiting abusive and anti-competitive tactics by dominant corporations
  • Place New York at the cutting edge of combating monopolies and curbing corporate power by fundamentally redefining what constitutes dominance by a single firm
  • Allow actions against corporations that act unilaterally to stifle competition — an expansion of current law which defines anticompetitive conduct as occurring only when two or more companies are collaborating or conspiring to restrain competition. 

For New York’s thousands of small and independent businesses, the legislation injects fairness into a system that has long left small businesses at a competitive disadvantage. It levels the playing field for small businesses by enhancing the ability of the state and private plaintiffs to take on monopoly power and block abusive behavior by dominant corporations.

It would also protect workers from outsized labor market power. By ushering in vast new protections for working people in New York, the bill would effectively stop the use of non-compete and no-poach clauses in employee contracts by exposing any company that uses such clauses to abuse-of-dominance enforcement.

And it would safeguard consumers by helping to restore free and fair competition across the state. Dominant companies such as Amazon have long wielded their concentrated market power to box out small businesses and harm consumers. By allowing those harmed by anticompetitive conduct to sue as a class, consumers and small businesses would gain the ability to band together to sue dominant firms for engaging in abusive conduct.

The 21st Century Antitrust Act is the most progressive antitrust legislation in the country. As both the U.S. House and Senate take steps to rein in the outsized power of Big Tech and other monopolies, New York can be a model for these federal actions — leading the way and setting the tone for upcoming antitrust legislation in other states and at the federal level.

“Our antitrust laws were written a century ago for a radically different economy and they are in desperate need of reform,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. “Corporate power has reached unprecedented and dangerous levels, and we need powerful new laws to protect the public and our economy. I am pleased the Senate is taking this historic step and I look forward to this landmark legislation passing the Assembly and becoming law.”

“Massive corporations must not be empowered to use their sheer size to circumvent the anti-trust regulations that have been put in place in New York for many years,” said Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz. “This important legislation modernizes our law to reflect the new reality that there are new anti-competitive strategies that corporations are using to stifle other companies. Thank you to State Senator Gianaris and the many advocates who have been pushing for these changes, and I urge my colleagues and the Governor to join us in supporting this bill.”

Members of the coalition expressed their support for the 21st Century Antitrust Act. 

“For too long, big corporations like Amazon have used their outsized economic and political power to abuse and bully workers, small businesses, and communities. Monopoly power has led to waves of small business closures while workers are squeezed in a race-to-the-bottom economy. We must stand up to abusive corporate agendas that benefit the wealthy few while leaving our communities to suffer,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN. “The 21st Century Antitrust Act is the country’s most aggressive antitrust legislation in the country, leading the way for antitrust legislation for other states and at the federal level. This crucial bill will level the playing field with small businesses while providing more protections for workers and consumers. We applaud the New York State Senate for passing this bill and urge the New York State Assembly and Governor Cuomo to join an urgent nationwide effort to take back power and control of our communities.”

“Monopoly power is the single biggest threat facing small, independent businesses. Misguided court decisions have warped federal antitrust policy, allowing monopolies like Amazon to engage in predatory and abusive tactics that harm smaller businesses,” said Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “By establishing clear rules to block abusive behavior by dominant corporations,  this legislation goes a long way toward giving independent businesses a fair shot at competing.”

“This bill is epic and reflects an incredible can-do attitude on the part of the New York State legislature: we can stop corporate monopolistic abuses of small businesses, workers, and our democracy,” said Zephyr Teachout, Law Professor at Fordham University. “It has three key features that make it especially powerful: it clearly prohibits monopolistic abuse of workers, it clearly puts abuse of small business owners at the heart of antitrust, and it allows for proving dominance without the expensive, endless, angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin litigation around market definition, that ends up being a payday for economists and making it hard to block obvious abuses.”

“This bill would be the most significant step taken at the state level to rein in the power dominant corporations have over small businesses and workers,” said Pat Garofalo, director of state and local policy at the American Economic Liberties Project. “New York has the opportunity to be at the vanguard of the national movement to reduce corporate power and set a new standard for other states and the federal government to follow.”

“We commend the Senate for taking up this important legislation and working to level the playing field for small and medium sized businesses in New York,” said Luther Lowe, Senior Vice President of Public Policy for Yelp. “It’s important that enforcers have a wide array of tools to confront companies like Google, which abuses its dominance by self-dealing while throttling smaller competitors at the expense of consumers. This legislation is crucial to end such exclusionary practices by these dominant firms.”

“It’s about time anti-trust laws were updated to hold dominant corporations accountable for degrading wages and working conditions that union members have fought for in industry after industry,” said Thomas Gesualdi, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16. “Our members see the need for this legislation every day on the job, as companies like Amazon grow by underpaying and overworking their employees. Without strong anti-trust laws, good employers either have to come down to Amazon’s level, or lose business. The Teamsters thank Deputy Majority Leader Gianaris and the State Senate for their leadership in passing this nation-leading legislation and call on the Assembly to pass it as well before the session ends this week.”

“Powerful corporations are ruining what used to be good jobs, and it has to stop,” said Anthony Rosario, a member of Teamsters Local 804 at UPS. “What is a middle-class job for us at UPS is a near minimum-wage at Amazon. We must bring all workers up to a high standard, not let Amazon set the standard for everyone. This law will empower New York workers to hold companies accountable for using their size and their dominance to undercut good jobs. Thank you to the State Senate and Senator Gianaris for championing this bill.”

“Once again, New York State is leading the way and showing that it is beyond time to rein in anti-competitive companies like Amazon,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). “The 21st Century Anti-Trust Act is an important step towards protecting workers and many of the good union jobs in our communities.”

“New York needs the strongest antitrust laws in the nation, and this campaign and these lawmakers are going to make it happen,” said Michael Kink, Executive Director of the Strong Economy For All Coalition and counsel to the Center on Popular Democracy. “We’ve worked for a year to update this legislation, to ensure it addresses the actual abuses and destructive practices that are hurting workers and small businesses, and to set a mark for strong coordinated action at the state and federal level.”    

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Credit: Photo by Parshva Shah on Unsplash

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Virgil McDill

Virgil McDill is the Communications Director at ILSR. He has more than 20 years of experience developing and executing media campaigns for government and non-profit organizations.