Lina Khan Sticks Up for Workers' Rights - The Friday AM Quickie 1/6/23
Hard to believe it's been two years since the Jan. 6. It's even harder to say whether Donald Trump's coup attempt can be said to have failed, as his cronies bring House business to a halt once more. Just be glad I'm sparing you from the goopy soft-focus newspaper profile I read yesterday of a god-fearing insurrectionist with a heart of gold. Truly awful dreck. Anyway, Jack's back Monday. - Corey
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THE BIG NEWS
A Win for Workers: FTC Will Ban Noncompete Clauses
The Federal Trade Commission yesterday announced a proposed rule banning all employers from imposing noncompetes on their workers, including independent contractors, interns, and volunteers. The New York Times calls it "a far-reaching move that could raise wages and increase competition among businesses," noting that noncompetes have been imposed on occupations as varied as sandwich makers, hair stylists, and software engineers. The FTC says 30 million Americans will benefit from the new rule and expects wages to increase by nearly $300 billion per year throughout the economy.
The FTC minced no words in calling noncompetes an exploitative practice, and agency chair Lina Khan observed in announcing the rule that "the freedom to change jobs is core to economic liberty."
"Research shows that employers' use of noncompetes to restrict workers' mobility significantly suppresses workers' wages—even for those not subject to noncompetes, or subject to noncompetes that are unenforceable under state law," said Elizabeth Wilkins, Director of the Office of Policy Planning. "The proposed rule would ensure that employers can't exploit their outsized bargaining power to limit workers' opportunities and stifle competition."
Legal challenges are expected, but the rule should take effect in approximately eight months. In the meantime, if you're subject to a noncompete clause, my inexpert non-legal advice is to pretend like it doesn't exist and take whatever job you want. Odds are decent the clause was already unenforceable even before the FTC got involved. Anyway, pro-worker administrative decisions like this have been one of the better aspects of the Biden administration, despite some grievous errors by the president such as intervening on behalf of greedy rail owners to stop a strike. But in this case Biden, through an executive order, personally urged the FTC to curtail the spread of noncompetes. While one might assume these trap clauses affected mostly well-off white-collar workers, they've become common practice at all kinds of companies. It's absolutely crazy that employers were ever allowed to forbid workers from switching jobs. Good riddance to bad contracts!
MORE STORIES TO WATCH
Republicans to Resume Their Ritual Humiliation Today
Pathetic former House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican candidate for House Speaker, lost an eleventh vote for the crucial leadership position yesterday. The House remains almost entirely non-functional until a speaker is elected and, as a number of journalists have noted, this has become the longest speaker election since the Civil War. Speaking of which...the Republican majority considered not holding a session today, apparently because they wanted to avoid calling further attention to their latest act of sabotage on the anniversary of the Capitol insurrection – but last night it was decided to try to get McCarthy elected again anyway. Creepy Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz nominated Donald Trump for the speaker position yesterday, which has been a popular fantasy among QAnon nuts. (Trump recieved one vote -- from Gaetz, who voted for a different candidate in the next round.) Some anti-McCarthy Republicans have indicated they might cave, while a few others have even suggested brokering a compromise with Democrats, which could give Democrats more power on committees and such; some centrist Democrats, meanwhile, have issued statements signaling their willingness to vote for a Republican speaker if it means they can get sworn in and start legislating. Long story short: C-SPAN will continue to be must-see TV tomorrow and possibly through next week as well.
Biden Honors Jan. 6 Heroes Today
President Joe Biden will hand out some medals today to mark the second anniversary of Donald Trump's 2021 coup attempt. The Presidential Citizens Medal recipients will include former Arizona Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers along with other elected officials from multiple states who resisted pressure from Trump and his cronies to throw out election results; several police officers who defended the Capitol including Michael Fanone; and Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, Georgia's mother-daughter election worker duo who faced racist death threats after Trump promoted conspiracy theories that they'd altered votes. (Trump continued to attack Freeman by name as recently as last week.) Meanwhile in Arizona, newly sworn in Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, who in her last job as secretary of state challenged Trump's 2020 lies, warned Republicans in her inaugural speech that "chasing conspiracy theories...or seeking to further undermine our democracy will lead nowhere."
- Meanwhile in the Senate: Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow to Retire Also, Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey announced he has prostate cancer. via the Washington Post and Politico.
- Claim: Saudi-Backed LIV Golf Is Spying on 9/11 Victims' Families The defendants in a lawsuit filed by the Trump-Affiliated golf organization claim the Saudis are using it to "build an intelligence file" on 9/11 Justice activists. via Bloomberg News.
- Alarm Over Benjamin Netanyahu's Latest Power Grab in Israel The new far-right coalition government plans to give itself the power to nullify judicial rulings. via the Guardian.
- South Carolina Supreme Court Overturns Abortion Ban The 3-2 ruling says a 2021 "fetal heartbeat" law violates the state constitution's privacy protections. via CNN.
That's the approximate size of the years-long case backlog in U.S. immigration courts, according to the Associated Press. President Biden yesterday announced new restrictions on undocumented asylum seekers who transit to the U.S. through Mexico, along with a "cruel and counterproductive" new policy to admit a fraction of people seeking to migrate from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaraga and Venezuela on a temporary basis, provided they have sponsors, pass background checks, and apply via a smartphone app from their home countries.
ON THE SHOW TODAY
1/6: It's the first Casual Friday of 2023! Sam hosts Heather Digby Parton, contributing writer at Salon.com and proprietor of the blog Hullabaloo, to round up the week in news. Then, Sam is joined by Andy Kindler, host of the Thought Spiral podcast!
DON'T MISS MR CLIPS
Jordan Peterson's Ongoing Nervous Breakdown Enters Willy Wonka Phase
Is this the drip?
Fox Host Laura Ingraham FREAKS Over Possible Hakeem Jeffries Speakership
"No one is going to be conservative enough for me."
"I didn't attack you, Harold."
-- William, Prince of Wales and heir apparent to the British throne, gaslighting his brother, Prince Harry, immediately after grabbing him by the collar, ripping his necklace, and knocking him to the floor after starting an argument about Harry's wife, Meghan Markle. Harry tells the story in a new memoir; Buckingham Palace has declined comment.
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