The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Reducing inequality, hiking minimum wage could boost U.S. economy -White House. Boosting enforcement of antidiscrimination and antitrust laws, raising the federal minimum wage and higher unionization rates could substantially boost U.S. economic growth, a new report by President Joe Biden’s top economic advisers concludes. The annual Economic Report, prepared by the Council of Economic Advisers, argues for restoring the public sector as a partner in long-run growth, and adoption of policies aimed at curbing the disproportionate market power of companies and employers that limits economic equality. “The government has a role to play in reducing inequality,” Cecilia Rouse, who chairs the council, told Reuters, stressing that ending lingering disparities in the U.S. labor market and racial wealth gaps would “absolutely” boost U.S. growth and competitiveness after years of weak progress.
DaVita and its former CEO acquitted of U.S. antitrust charges. A jury in Denver, Colorado, acquitted dialysis provider DaVita and its former CEO Kent Thiry on Friday of charges that they conspired with competitors not to hire each other’s employees. The Justice Department had alleged in the case that both DaVita and Surgical Care Affiliates LLC required senior-level employees who sought to work for them to notify their current employers that they were job-hunting. While enforcers have traditionally focused on prices and innovation in enforcing antitrust law, the Biden administration has shifted its emphasis somewhat to put more focus on illegal agreements that might push down wages.
EXCLUSIVE Apple faces extra EU antitrust charge in music streaming probe. Apple faces an additional EU antitrust charge in the coming weeks in an investigation triggered by a complaint from Spotify, a person familiar with the matter said, a sign that EU enforcers are strengthening their case against the U.S. company. The European Commission last year accused the iPhone maker of distorting competition in the music streaming market via restrictive rules for its App Store that force developers to use its own in-app payment system and prevent them from informing users of other purchasing options. Such requirements have also come under scrutiny in countries including the United States and Britain.
A New Legal Tactic to Protect Workers’ Pay. Antitrust suits have long been part of the federal government’s arsenal to keep corporations from colluding or combining in ways that raise prices and hurt the consumer. Now the government is deploying the same weapon in another cause: protecting workers’ pay. In a first, the Justice Department has brought a series of criminal cases against employers for colluding to suppress wages. The push started in December 2020, under the Trump administration, with an indictment accusing a staffing agency in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of agreeing with rivals to suppress the pay of physical therapists. The department has now filed six criminal cases under the pillar of antitrust law, the Sherman Act, including prosecutions of employers of home health aides, nurses and aerospace engineers.
Edited by Gary J. Malone