Labor Market Regulation and Worker Power

41 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2022 Last revised: 23 Mar 2023

See all articles by Hiba Hafiz

Hiba Hafiz

Boston College Law School

Ioana Elena Marinescu

University of Pennsylvania - School of Social Policy & Practice; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: April 28, 2022

Abstract

Due to a lack of competition among employers in the labor market, employers have monopsony power, or power to pay workers less than what the workers contribute to the employers’ bottom line. Worker power is workers’ ability to obtain higher wages and/or better working conditions. While the antitrust agencies have just begun developing policy and enforcement strategies to regulate employer monopsony, broader government policies that impact market forces, the formation of labor market institutions, and workers’ voice and exit options also play a defining role in shaping worker power relative to employers. For example, in addition to antitrust enforcement, worker power can be enhanced by labor agencies’ regulation of employer/employee status, wage and working condition floors, and workers’ collective action. Worker power can also be enhanced by agencies administering social safety net protections and influencing labor market tightness through monetary policy.

Scholars have yet to assess how federal agencies whose statutory authority and regulatory purview impact worker power could best direct their authority, regulatory tools, and expertise towards labor market regulation in the presence of employer monopsony power. This Article outlines the comparative advantages of federal agencies’ regulation impacting worker power. It then develops a “checklist” of worker power indicators for agencies to track and operationalize in high-priority policy and enforcement areas, and offers a broader worker power agenda through a whole-of-government approach involving interagency coordination to protect and strengthen workers’ voice and exit options.

Suggested Citation

Hafiz, Hiba and Marinescu, Ioana Elena, Labor Market Regulation and Worker Power (April 28, 2022). University of Chicago Law Review, Vol. 90, 2023, Boston College Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 589, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4095501

Hiba Hafiz (Contact Author)

Boston College Law School ( email )

885 Centre Street
Newton, MA 02459-1163
United States

Ioana Elena Marinescu

University of Pennsylvania - School of Social Policy & Practice ( email )

3701 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6214
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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