The National Relations Board and Department of Justice entered into a historic memorandum of understanding last month. This MOU will, in theory at least, give the NLRB more teeth to go after employers who harm workers.
“The Agencies’ collaboration will focus on protecting workers who have been harmed or may be at risk of being harmed as a result of conduct designed to evade legal obligation and accountability (such as misclassifying employees or fissuring workplaces); interference with the rights of workers to obtain fair market compensation and collectively bargain (through labor market concentration/labor monopsony or other anticompetitive practices); and the imposition of restrictive agreements or workplace rules, such as noncompete, nonsolicitation, and nondisclosure provisions,” the NLRB said in a statement.
Harold Meyerson of the American Prospect gives the following insight on why the MOU has the potential to be a game-changer in the area of labor relations:
“The joint memorandum stipulates that the NLRB and the DOJ will refer to each other what they each see as potentially illegal acts of collusion or monopsony to suppress wages, impede workers’ ability to find other jobs, misclassify employees as independent contractors, and other sometimes industry-wide practices to deny workers their rights and their incomes. They will be able to collaborate on investigations as well.
In a sense, what this agreement does is bring both labor law and antitrust law into the 21st-century economy, in which gig employment and noncompete agreements have become common practice in entire industries, effectively undermining both the worker rights created by the New Deal and the anti-monopolistic efforts of pre–New Deal Democrats. Abruzzo and Kanter—who are among the smartest progressive appointments that Biden has made—had already prodded their respective agency and division to enforce their respective enabling laws in ways that made them far more responsive to the kinds of violations that have arisen in recent decades. By joining forces, they’ve created a powerful tool that can recapture some of the rights and income that workers have been losing to their monopsonistic employers for the past 40 years.”