Gig-economy rise prompts FTC chief’s call to alter antitrust law
Gig-economy workers fighting for higher pay and better working conditions through protests and grassroots organizing campaigns face yet another obstacle in their campaigns: U. S. antitrust law. Federal statutes aimed at promoting competition and preventing monopolies leave out gig workers, classified as independent contractors, from protections for unionizing or other group actions. Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan is pushing to change that through legislation or joint guidance with the U.S. Justice Department, which would be a more straightforward, if legally risky, way of clarifying that current antitrust exemptions for traditional unions can extend to gig workers. The FTCs push joins an ongoing tug-of-war in the U.S. among gig companies, lawmakers, regulators, academics, and legal advocates over the employment status of app-based workers for Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc., DoorDash Inc., and others. Companies themselves may not bring suits against workers for antitrust violations, but they have attempted to further insulate themselves from worker activity, said Sanjukta Paul, an assistant professor of law at Wayne State University.