ILSR Joins New York Labor Unions, Small Businesses, And Community Organizations To Form New Coalition Calling for Legislation to Combat Corporate Power in NY

Date: 10 Nov 2021 | posted in: Press Release | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

NEW YORK – Today, labor organizations, small business owners, and community organizations rallied outside an Amazon bookstore and offices to launch a new statewide coalition, New Yorkers for a Fair Economy (NYFE), which aims to hold powerful corporations like Amazon, Walmart, Facebook, Apple, and Google accountable for their abusive practices against workers, small businesses, and communities.

The coalition condemned corporations who are making record-breaking profits at the expense of small businesses and the health and safety of workers. Community members spoke out against corporations using their economic and political power to lower workplace standards and drive down wages for workers, create an unfair and abusive climate for small businesses, and increase truck pollution as more delivery warehouses are rapidly expanding across the state and country. The coalition seeks to amplify the voices of workers, communities, and small businesses who have been harmed by destructive practices and want to hold those corporations accountable.You can watch a video of the press conference here.

“Reining in corporate power is about freedom and democracy for our communities. The same corporations that are extracting our resources and polluting our state are the ones making huge profits at the expense of frontline workers, communities, and small business owners across the state. New Yorkers for a Fair Economy is a coalition fighting to regain control over our communities, and the only way we can do that is by breaking up corporate monopolies and abuse of power,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN, a key leader for New Yorkers for a Fair Economy

In its first campaign, New Yorkers for a Fair Economy is calling on New York state to pass the  21st Century Antitrust Act, sponsored by Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris and Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz, which will provide New York the tools to hold corporations accountable for harmful practices against workers and small businesses. This legislation overwhelmingly passed the State Senate in June.

“Corporate power has reached unprecedented and dangerous levels, and we need powerful new laws to protect the public and our economy. Our State Senate took a historic step passing my antitrust bill earlier this year and I look forward to working with committed allies to ensure this landmark proposal becomes law,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris.

The 21st Century Antitrust Act is the first major update to New York’s antitrust laws in over a century and would establish the strongest antitrust law in the nation, providing a model for the ongoing discussions happening on federal antitrust laws. This legislation makes it easier for the Attorney General, businesses, and individuals to hold corporations accountable, making it illegal for those corporations to use market power to harm their competitors, customers, and workers. 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.

“Monopoly power is the single biggest threat facing small, independent businesses. Misguided court decisions have warped federal antitrust policy, allowing big, monopolistic corporations to engage in predatory and abusive tactics that are harming local businesses and stripping jobs and wealth from communities across the state,” said Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and a founding member of Small Business Rising. “With this bill, New York is leading the way in addressing one of the most pressing issues of our time. By establishing clear rules to stop dominant corporations from abusing their power, this legislation will safeguard democracy and create new vitality in struggling rural and urban areas alike.”

“The growing concentration of corporate power is hurting our communities by driving away good union jobs and repressing wages and working conditions. We are standing up against corporate behemoths like Amazon by putting power back in the hands of workers and communities. Now is the time to reform New York’s antitrust rules, fix workplace safety laws, and protect good union jobs at our brick-and-mortar businesses before it is too late,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).

“Amazon and Big Tech are just the tip of the spear when it comes to new monopolies that harm workers, consumers and our environment. Our nation’s antitrust laws — once robust — were gutted and have been left powerless against the anticompetitive behavior corporate behemoths display today. It’s on States to take action where the federal government has been disappointingly lax, which is why the Assembly must pass the Twenty-First Century Antitrust Act,” said Zephyr Teachout, Law Professor at Fordham University.

“I used to have my own store for almost 20 years on Flatbush avenue. Everywhere you look, there are Amazon vans delivering in front of the store. That ain’t right. Small businesses are being abused by greedy corporations who don’t care about no one but their profit. We are calling on the Assembly to stand with us to pass the 21st Century Antitrust Act. Big corporations must be stopped,” said LeRoy Johnson, former small business owner, and member of New York Communities for Change

“I have worked in the delivery industry since 1993. Amazon and other abusive corporations are growing by cheapening delivery jobs.They want to pay workers near-minimum wages with few benefits to do the job that provides for my family. If New York does nothing, we all might be working for Amazon one day.But New York can do something and protect good jobs. The Teamsters are proud to be part of New Yorkers for a Fair Economy. We are standing with Senator Gianaris and Assemblymember Dinowitz to pass anti-trust legislation to hold Amazon and other abusive corporations accountable. Thank you for standing with us to protect good jobs and working families.” said Anthony Castellena, DHL worker, member of Teamsters Local 295.

“I’m proud to stand with my Labor family and our community allies to ensure that we hold the rich accountable. If the pandemic served as any point of reflection, we know that we are headed towards the hard lessons learned during the Gilded Age. It’s incumbent on us to pass legislation that tips the scale in favor of the workers. I’m proud to support Senator Gianaris’ Anti-Trust legislation because Jeff Bezos is laughing from space while his workers are struggling to put food on the table. We need the billionaires to pay up so we can take care of the workers. So we can provide childcare for workers, so we can provide housing for workers, and ensure that we address the desperation that forces workers to accept terrible conditions. No more – it’s time for the wealthiest to pay their share, and this coalition is up for the challenge.” said NYS Senator Jessica Ramos

“More than a century ago, we ended the first Gilded Age by passing federal antitrust legislation and empowering the government to break up the monopolies that had their boots on the neck of workers and communities. In this new Gilded Age, with corporate monopoly power far beyond what the robber barons could have dreamed, it’s time for us to build on the lessons of our past and pass landmark legislation that would let our state do the same thing. With the 21st Century Antitrust Act, we can take the power back and be a model for the rest of the country,” said NYS Assemblymember Emily Gallagher.

“Wealth and economic power has rapidly become concentrated in the hands of major corporations at the expense of consumers, workers, small businesses and vulnerable communities,” said Assembly Member Richard Gottfried.  “We can take back power by passing the 21st Century Antitrust Act ensuring fair wages, greater employment choice, and a revitalization of local main street economies.”

“New York has the opportunity to set a bold new standard on corporate power and antitrust for other states and the federal government to follow,” said Pat Garofalo, director of state and local policy at the American Economic Liberties Project. “Passing the 21st Century Antitrust Act would be the most important antitrust reform in a generation, putting New York at the forefront of the desperately needed effort to rein in corporate power so that workers, local businesses, and innovators can have a fair shot at economic success.”

New Yorkers for a Fair Economy 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 Teamster Joint Council 16, Retail Wholesale, and Department Store Union; community groups New York Communities for Change and Make the Road New York, and national anti-monopoly organizations Institute for Local Self Reliance and American Economic Liberties Project.

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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.