What banning noncompetes could mean for the US workforce

“The FTC announced..that it proposed a rule that would ban the practice of forcing workers to sign noncompete clauses, which forbid employees from working for their employer’s competitors for a certain amount of time after they leave.
“The freedom to change jobs is core to economic liberty and to a competitive, thriving economy,” Khan said in a statement. “Noncompetes block workers from freely switching jobs, depriving them of higher wages and better working conditions, and depriving businesses of a talent pool that they need to build and expand. By ending this practice, the FTC’s proposed rule would promote greater dynamism, innovation, and healthy competition.”

If enacted, the proposed rule would give Americans more choice in where they work and, by extension, higher pay. They could more easily work for rival companies or start their own companies with less fear of being sued. Such mobility could make what’s already a tight hiring economy even tighter, as workers have even more options of which open jobs they can take.”

The Supreme Court hears a case this week that endangers workers’ ability to strike

“The Teamsters, the union in this case, allegedly timed a 2017 strike so that it would begin after some of Glacier Northwest’s mixing trucks were already filled with concrete, forcing the company’s non-union employees to race to dispose of this material before it hardened in the trucks. But the company was able to remove this wet concrete from the trucks before they were damaged, and there are a wealth of cases establishing that workers may strike even if doing so will cause some of their employer’s product to spoil.
In one case, for example, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) — a kind of quasi-court that hears disputes between unions and employers — sided with milk truck drivers who struck, even though their strike risked spoiling the milk before it was delivered to customers. Another case, handed down by a federal appeals court, reached a similar conclusion regarding striking cheese workers.

That said, there are also some cases establishing that workers may not walk off the job at a time that could result in truly egregious damage to their employer’s business. In one such case, for example, a federal appeals court ruled that foundry workers who work with molten lead could not abruptly walk off the job and leave the lead in a state where it could melt the employer’s facilities or injure other workers.

In any event, the Supreme Court’s decision in San Diego Trades Council v. Garmon (1959) lays out the process that employers must use if they believe their workers timed a strike so recklessly that the union should be held liable. In nearly all cases, the employer must first obtain a ruling from the NLRB establishing that their workers’ strike was not protected by federal law. Only then may they file a lawsuit against the union.

The employer in Glacier Northwest, however, wants the Supreme Court to water down Garmon considerably, potentially enough to render that decision toothless.

If that happens, it would be a tremendous blow to workers. One important reason the Garmon process exists is that it shields unions from lawsuits that could drain their finances and discourage workers from exercising their right to strike — after all, that right means very little if well-moneyed employers can bombard unions with lawsuits the union cannot afford to litigate.”

How To Empower Millions of Independent Workers

“Most Americans who enter independent work arrangements do so because they prefer them to the more structured and controlled world of traditional employment, not because they have no other choice. A 2021 Upwork survey found that more than 70 percent of both full‐time and part‐time independent workers see increased flexibility as the major reason for engaging in independent work. A separate 2021 survey from MBO Partners showed that nearly 90 percent of respondents were happier in independent work than in traditional jobs. It also found that roughly three‐quarters of independent workers are satisfied with their work, intend to remain in independent work, and are optimistic about their career future. Just 11 percent wanted to find full‐time traditional employment.

This preference extends to oft‐maligned gig work. According to a 2021 Pew Research Center survey, for example, almost 80 percent of gig platform workers rated their experiences positively, with almost half citing schedule flexibility as a major reason for doing the work. Only 28 percent of respondents said they performed gig work because there were few other job opportunities available where they live. And in 2019, when economist M. Keith Chen and his colleagues did a study of more than a million U.S. Uber drivers over an eight‐month period, they found that drivers valued the flexibility the arrangement provided—in both the timing and amount of work—at $150 per week (or 40 percent of expected earnings). Chen’s team also learned that drivers would need a 50 percent raise to work for a less flexible taxi company.”

Foreign Workers Are Losing Their Tech Jobs. Will They Have To Leave the Country Too?

“There is “a lot of brain drain among H-1B workers who are considering alternative options, Canada being the most notable, but also the U.K., a lot of European countries also have a lot easier routes,” Sam continues. Though salaries might not be as high as in the U.S., “a lot of us are OK to take a financial hit just for peace of mind.”
Recent tech layoffs may affect only a small share of America’s immigrant workforce, but they’re a sign that much reform is needed to ensure that high-skilled workers continue to come to the United States. Reforms could also address discriminatory limits on certain immigrants. Immigration analysts like David J. Bier of the Cato Institute note that employment-based green card caps “serve no purpose because nearly all wait-listed, employer-sponsored immigrants are already in the United States working in temporary statuses.” The EAGLE Act, bipartisan legislation introduced in the House and Senate, would eliminate the per-country cap on employment-based green cards that has exacerbated wait times for many immigrants.”

Biden Forgets That Workers Are Consumers Too

“Consider that supposedly worker-centric trade policy. Biden has left in place many of the tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump, including the levies on aluminum and steel. By artificially hiking the price of imported steel, those tariffs are supposed to boost domestic production, creating more and better-paying steelworker jobs. But the cost of the tariffs rebounds onto every industry that uses steel to make other products. While about 57,000 Americans work in steelmaking jobs, more than 12 million are employed in manufacturing jobs that use steel. The tariffs hurt those workers.
Even steelworkers suffer from the tariffs, which raise prices for cars, appliances, and a host of other products. The Peterson Institute for International Economics, a trade policy think tank, estimates that repealing those tariffs would put about $800 back in the average family’s pockets this year.

Biden also has decided to extend tariffs on solar panels and their component parts, which were due to expire this year. In theory, those tariffs promote domestic manufacturing. In reality, they have cost more than 62,000 jobs in the four-plus years since Trump first implemented them by sharply cutting the number of solar panels available for installation and service, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.”

“Trade and labor policies should not be worker-centric or consumer-centric. They should be market-centric, because trade and labor are both parts of a market system that benefits Americans as workers and consumers.”