Statement: Roosevelt Research Director Responds to New Leadership at FTC, Elevates Revolving Door

Following the hiring of Uber’s Global Chief Competition Counsel Gail Levine to the role of deputy director of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Bureau of Competition, Marshall Steinbaum, Research Director and Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, issued the following statement:

“In hiring Uber’s antitrust lawyer to oversee federal antitrust enforcement, the FTC has demonstrated misguided and skewed enforcement priorities. Uber’s business model consists of price- and wage-fixing among hundreds of thousands of independent businesses—a per se violation of the Sherman Act. It embodies the most notable flaws in 21st-century antitrust enforcement, including a failure to adequately address the challenge of monopsony. It also highlights the black hole that has opened up in labor law enforcement with the so-called “fissured workplace.” In the past, the FTC has acted against the interest of Uber’s drivers, claiming that they are not exempt from antitrust law for bargaining collectively over wages. At the same time, the agency has exempted Uber from antitrust liability for wage-fixing by not enforcing the Sherman Act.

The FTC needs leaders who are committed to tackling the country’s economic challenges, including the disempowerment of American workers, not those with close ties to the businesses and industries whose extractive behavior makes new, bold action on antitrust necessary.”

Steinbaum is the author of Antitrust Implications for Labor Platforms, and has written about Uber’s violations of antitrust law for The American Prospect. This week, along with Maurice Stucke, he released The Effective Competition Standard: A New Standard for Antitrust.

The Roosevelt Institute also released Unstacking the Deck: A New Agenda to Tame Corruption in Washington, which was co-authored by Roosevelt Fellow Julie Margetta Morgan and Rohit Chopra, a former Visiting Fellow who is now a FTC commissioner. The report called for reforming the revolving door by which individuals move between representing special interests and working in public service.

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