Warren, Whitehouse Blast Chamber of Commerce for Opposing FTC’s Proposed Ban on Noncompete Agreements
Noncompetes Stifle Competition for Workers, Small Businesses, and Entrepreneurs; Make Economy Less Innovative and Dynamic
“The Chamber owes its member organizations, and the American public, an explanation for its intention to oppose this rule and defend a deeply exploitative and unfair method of competition that harms workers and businesses.”
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) sent a letter to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) calling out the organization for its opposition to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) proposed rule that would ban employers’ use of noncompete agreements. The senators are calling on the Chamber to explain why it is undermining its stated values by opposing this business-, worker-, and consumer-friendly policy.
“This rule would drastically improve conditions for workers, small businesses, and the entire economy, benefiting all Americans. But the Chamber, which purports to believe in a ‘future …(that) gives everyone the opportunity to build a better future for themselves,’ is already saber-rattling about opposing a simple rule that would allow America’s workers, businesses, and entrepreneurs the freedom to build that future,” wrote the senators. “The Chamber owes its member organizations, and the American public, an explanation for its intention to oppose this rule and defend a deeply exploitative and unfair method of competition that harms workers and businesses.”
In the letter, the senators note that the FTC is acting under its authority to ban noncompete agreements, which stifle competition and harm workers, entrepreneurs, and new businesses. The Minneapolis Federal Reserve found that “more than one in seven workers (…) have non-compete contracts with their current or most recent employer”, including 12% of workers who earn $20 or less. Workers are unable to work new jobs and start new businesses – leading to a lack of competition in the labor market and a less dynamic and innovative economy.
The senators call out the Chamber on its threat to sue the FTC to stop its noncompete bans as exactly the type of “frivolous litigation” that the organization claims to oppose, and pushed back on the Chamber’s description of noncompetes as a tool for “fostering innovation and preserving competition” as demonstrably false, representing “exactly the kind of Washington-insider doublespeak that big business has been using for years to justify anti-worker and anti-consumer policies.”
Senators Warren and Whitehouse are calling on the Chamber to provide answers about its efforts to oppose the FTC’s proposed rule to ban noncompete agreements and the work its member organizations have done to challenge this rule by March 13, 2023.
Senator Warren has led the fight to protect workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs from corporate interests:
- In September 2022, Senator Warren and Representative Bush led 23 colleagues in a letter to the CEOs of Amazon, Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Grubhub about reports that a new benefit offered to their employees in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade applies only to the companies’ employees and not to their misclassified independent contractor workforce.
- In June 2022, Senators Warren, Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Representatives Bush and Ocasio-Cortez sent a letter to Amazon demanding answers about the company’s proposed worker chat application, which reportedly would ban workers from using certain words and phrases, restricting their ability to discuss their working conditions and basic legal rights, including unionization.
- In May 2022, Senator Warren and Representatives Bush and Ocasio-Cortez sent a letter to Amazon, blasting the company for its lackluster responses and failure to answer their questions from their letter in December 2021 about the circumstances and policies that led to the collapse of an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois that killed six workers.
- In March 2022, Senators Warren, Sanders, Booker, Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Representatives Ocasio-Cortez and Bush sent a letter to the Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, urging them to investigate Amazon’s “Attendance Points Policy”, which punishes workers for taking legally-protected leave.
- In February 2022, Senator Warren and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) reintroduced the Schedules that Work Act to help ensure that low-wage employees have more certainty about their work schedules and income.
- In February 2022, Senator Warren and Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), DeLauro, Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Katie Porter (D-Calif.) reintroduced the Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights Act to strengthen protections for part-time workers and allow them to better balance their work schedules with personal and family needs.
- In December 2021, Senator Warren and Representatives Bush and Ocasio-Cortez sent a letter to Amazon, demanding answers about the circumstances and failure in safety policies that led to the death of six workers after an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois collapsed during a tornado.
- In April 2020, Senator Warren and Representative Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) proposed an Essential Workers Bill of Rights, which includes universal paid sick leave and family and medical leave.
- Senator Warren is an original cosponsor of the 2020 PAID Leave Act, legislation that would provide universal paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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