Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Remarks at the White House Roundtable on the State of Labor Market Competition in the U.S. Economy
Remarks as Delivered
Thank you, Secretary Yellen. I am grateful to you and your team for collaborating on producing this really terrific report.
Thank you to Worth Green and Shannon Wait and Paula Stellabotte and Josue Alvarez for being with us today to share your experiences and to help us understand the impact that anticompetitive labor practices have had on your lives and on your careers.
As this report details, a lack of competition in labor markets harms the American economy and the American people – workers, consumers, and businesses alike.
Employer concentration and anticompetitive labor practices undermine the free and fair labor markets upon which the integrity of our economy depends.
They deny workers fair wages, fair terms of employment, and just working conditions. They inhibit innovation. They rob aspiring entrepreneurs of a fair chance to start their own businesses. Simply put, they are barriers to the American dream.
Allowing these practices to go unchecked undermines public trust in the fairness of our economic institutions, and in the rule of law itself.
That is why protecting American workers from anticompetitive labor practices and employer concentration is central to the Justice Department’s antitrust enforcement and advocacy work.
In his Executive Order, President Biden called on us to deepen interagency partnerships to promote competition across the U.S. economy.
The Justice Department is working closely with partners across the federal government to protect American workers from anticompetitive labor practices and employer concentration.
For example, together with the FTC, the Justice Department is undertaking a full public review of federal merger guidelines. Our review will ensure, among other things, that merger guidelines fully address the potential for mergers to harm labor market competition.
We are also deepening our partnership with the Department of Labor (DOL) to sharpen the tools at our disposal to protect American workers. DOL has generously provided expertise to attorneys and economists in our Antitrust Division, and that knowledge-sharing has already made a difference. In the coming days, we look forward to formalizing that partnership.
Finally, while DOJ’s independent enforcement actions are outside the scope of the Executive Order, we continue to aggressively prosecute antitrust violations that undermine competition in labor markets or otherwise harm workers – no matter the industry, no matter the company, no matter the individual.
On the criminal front, the Antitrust Division has indicted several cases involving allegations of wage fixing and “no poach” agreements that rob workers of the benefits of competition for their labor. The victims of these illegal conspiracies include public school nurses and essential workers who provided care on the frontlines during the pandemic.
On the civil side, the Justice Department recently filed a complaint to block Penguin Random House from acquiring its close competitor, Simon & Schuster. Our lawsuit will prevent the largest book publisher in the world from exerting outsized influence over how much authors are paid for their work.
This case demonstrates the Justice Department’s commitment to enforcing our antitrust laws to protect workers – in this case, authors – just as vigorously as we work to protect consumers.
Over the past year, I have prioritized reinvigorating the Justice Department’s antitrust enforcement efforts to promote competition and to protect American workers and consumers.
These efforts are just beginning.
I look forward to our continued work together in the days ahead.
Thank you very much, and I now pass the baton to Chair Rouse.
Updated March 7, 2022