Biden’s executive order aims to stop businesses suppressing workers’ wages

Biden
President Joe Biden.

  • Biden will issue an executive order Friday designed to stop firms collaborating to suppress wages.
  • He will push the FTC and DOJ for tougher guidance to stop companies sharing wage and benefit data.
  • Biden will call on the FTC to ban or limit non-compete agreements, per notes from the White House.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden is set to crack down on employers who collaborate to suppress workers’ wages in an executive order scheduled for Friday.

The White House published details of the upcoming order Friday morning. Biden will push the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to “prevent employers from collaborating to suppress wages or reduce benefits” by sharing wage and benefit information with each other.

The executive order will say that workers may be “harmed” by existing DOJ and FTC guidance that allows third parties to make wage data available to employers in certain circumstances without triggering antitrust scrutiny, per the White House’s notes.

Workers’ wages tend to decrease when there are fewer employers competing with each other for their labor, according to research from the University of Pennsylvania.

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The order, which focuses on promoting economic competition, will aim to help more businesses break into markets dominated by large employers, which it says should give workers more chance to negotiate higher pay.

The president has urged Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which would include protections for workers who want to unionize and collectively bargain for better pay.

In Friday’s order, Biden will also call for the FTC to ban or limit non-compete agreements and “unnecessary, cumbersome” occupational licensing restrictions. These would make it easier for workers to change jobs and help raise wages, per the White House’s briefing notes.

Tens of millions of Americans, including people working in construction and retail, have to sign non-compete agreements as a condition of getting a job, which makes it harder for them to switch to better-paying options and “stifles” competition, the order will say, per the White House.

It will also say that nearly 30% of jobs in the US require an occupational license, and that there is huge disparity in license requirements between states, which makes it difficult for people to move between states.

Biden has appointed Lina Khan, a vocal critic of big tech, as FTC chair in a decision widely thought to signal his administration’s desire to bring in strict antitrust rules to prevent tech companies from monopolizing markets.

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