Today’s News & Commentary — January 17, 2018
In “The Case for Letting Uber Drivers Organize,” Samuel Estreicher argues that the 1914 Clayton Act allows rideshare drivers to organize without violating antitrust law. In the Clayton Act, Congress exempted workers from antitrust principles. Congress specified, “the labor of a human being is not an article in commerce.” While there has been legal controversy over whether rideshare drivers qualify as employees under the “right to control test,” Estreicher maintains that in any event rideshare drivers should be exempted from antitrust rules under the Clayton Act. He argues that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals should make it clear that rideshare drivers are covered by this exemption when it decides the challenge to the 2015 Seattle ordinance allowing drivers in the for hire transportation industry to negotiate with ride hailing coordinators, such as Uber and Lyft. Read more here.
The Trump Administration continues to reinforce its hardline stance on immigration issues. The Department of Justice announced it will petition the Supreme Court to review a decision issued by Judge William Alsup of the Federal District Court in San Francisco ordering the federal government to continue implementing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Department of Justice is simultaneously appealing the district court’s decision to the Ninth Circuit.
Also in immigration news, during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, was forced to answer questions regarding President Trump’s alleged use of crude and racist language in a bipartisan meeting on immigration in the Oval Office. While Nielsen stated, “I don’t dispute the president using tough language. Others in the room were also using tough language,” Nielsen denies that she “hear[d] that word.” The topic of the hearing was President Trump’s proposal to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. Congressional leaders hoped to pass a deal before the end of the week on immigration but that deadline no longer appears realistic.
Slate highlights a paper by José Azar of IESE Business School at the University of Navarra, Ioana Marinescu of the University of Pennsylvania, and Marshall Steinbaum of the Roosevelt Institute examining the impacts of the “monopsony problem” on American workers. This problem occurs “where a lack of competition among employers gives businesses outsize power over workers, including the ability to tamp down on pay.” The study uses data from CareerBuilder.com to determine the area-specific labor market concentration across 20 different career categories. The study’s findings indicate that concentrated local labor markets may allow companies to hold down wages. As a result, policies such as the minimum wage and unions could be an effective means to try and protect workers from the deleterious effects of monopsony. Read more here.