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.

Read more: 20 sought-after female political strategists to watch as more women in the US enter politics

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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Former Obama White House advisor arrested for allegedly stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from charter schools he founded

white house
The White House.

  • A former Obama White House advisor was arrested over allegations he stole from charter schools he created.
  • Prosecutors say Seth Andrew laundered money to get a discounted interest rate for a Manhattan mortgage.
  • Andrew worked in the Office of Educational Technology at the White House until 2016.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A former senior advisor in the Obama White House allegedly stole more than $200,000 from a charter school network he founded and tried to launder the stolen money in order to get a lower interest rate on a Manhattan apartment mortgage, according to the Department of Justice.

Seth Andrew, 42, who worked as a senior advisor in the Office of Educational Technology at the White House under Obama, was arrested and charged Tuesday with wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements to a bank.

Andrew founded Democracy Prep Public Schools, a system of more than 20 New York City-based public charter schools in 2005, according to federal prosecutors. He left the network in 2013 to take a job at the US Department of Education before heading to the White House, where he stayed until November 2016.

In a criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday, prosecutors allege that between March and August 2019 Andrew, after cutting ties with Democracy Prep Public Schools in January 2017, used his former connection to the schools to steal $218,005 of the network’s reserve money by giving his school-affiliated email to a bank employee in an attempt to convince them he was still associated with Democracy Prep.

Prosecutors say Andrew drew funds from escrow accounts he had previously set up for individual schools within the charter school network. He then allegedly used that money to open a business account in the name of a Democracy Prep school at a bank.

According to the complaint, Andrew “attempted to conceal… the source of the stolen funds…and make it appear that the stolen funds belonged to a non-profit organization that Andrew founded, and currently appears to control.”

In a Tuesday email to Democracy Prep parents obtained by CNN, CEO Natasha Trivers said the charter school network alerted authorities as soon as it learned about the unauthorized withdrawals.

“Seth left our network in 2013. His alleged actions are a profound betrayal of all that we stand for and to you and your children, the scholars and families that we serve,” Trivers’ email reportedly said. “To be clear, at no time did the alleged crimes pose any risk to our students, staff or operations in any way.”

The alleged fraud, money laundering, and “misrepresentations” were all an attempt by Andrew to obtain savings on a mortgage for a multimillion-dollar Manhattan apartment, prosecutors said. Without the stolen Democracy Prep funds, prosecutors say Andrew would not have been able to take full advantage of the bank’s discounted interest rate promotion.

At a Tuesday appearance in court, a judge ordered Andrew released on a $500,000 personal recognizance bond according to CNBC.

An attorney for Andrew told the outlet he will plead not guilty.

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