Listen: How Corporate Mergers Undermine Labor Rights

Date: 3 Mar 2022 | posted in: Retail | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Senior Researcher and Writer Ron Knox was featured on, The Heartland Labor Forum, on Kansas City radio station KKFI, where he discussed his recent reporting in The American Prospect that detailed how corporate mergers helped create monopolies that dominate our economies and drive down workers’ wages. 

Corporate dominance is the paradigm that Americans are forced to live their lives under. Ron noted how many industries from beer distributors to banks have grown dangerously consolidated over the past half-century, in part due to unchecked corporate mergers. As Ron reported in the American Prospect, the number of corporate mergers has increased 40% just since 2019. Federal antitrust enforcers see an average of twelve new merger filings every day. “It is a firehose of mergers,” Ron said on the program.

Ron explained that, since the 1970s, America has seen corporate power and concentration displace the complementary traditions of labor rights and antitrust enforcement. The Reagan Administration upended antitrust laws and mergers were passed with little interference from the federal government. Lax, pro-bigness enforcement of the antitrust laws has continued all the way through the Trump administration. Over the past 40 years, as more companies have used their power to dictate prices, wages have stagnated even as productivity has increased.

But, as Ron explained, workers, small businesses, and communities may be regaining their footing against corporate power. In 2021, the Biden administration issued a sweeping executive order that amounted to the most significant anti-bigness agenda in decades. Now, as Ron puts it, we must push “Congress to clarify the intent and purpose of antitrust laws” for the next generation of workers and consumers to come.

Listen to Ron Knox speak on the Heartland Labor Forum here.

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Luke Gannon

Luke Gannon is the Research and Communications Associate for the Independent Business team.

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Ron Knox

Ron Knox is the Senior Researcher and Writer for ILSR's Independent Business Initiative.