SIGN THE PETITION: Tell Congress to ban excessive and abusive noncompete agreements.
Goal: 10,000 signatures
For decades, here's how the job market worked in America: If you were a hard worker, you could ask for a raise with the leverage of going to work somewhere else that would offer more money. The ability to sell your labor to the highest bidder kept wages high and encouraged bosses to compete for the best workers. But now, noncompete and no-poach agreements are being unethically used across the country to keep low-income workers from seeking better pay and working conditions, severely limiting their future job opportunities and long-term earning potential.
Noncompetes were designed to protect a company’s proprietary information by limiting the ability of executive-level employees to jump from a company to one of its competitors for a certain amount of time. They’re meant to stop executives from sharing inside information about corporations with their business rivals. But, of course, we’ve seen corporations from tech companies to fast food chains use noncompete agreements to box lower wage workers in, with no recourse to change jobs for better pay, benefits, and workplace standards.
In some of the worst, most-publicized cases, even employees at a sub sandwich restaurant were forced to sign noncompete agreements that said they couldn’t get a job making sandwiches anywhere else. The abuse is rampant – a 2019 study from the Economic Policy Institute found that somewhere between one quarter and one half of private-sector workers in America were subject to noncompete agreements – even though the vast majority of them do not have access to any proprietary information that could be used to harm their employer. Companies have used this as a way to keep low-income workers from being able to leave and secure a better job, and everything that comes with it.
Noncompetes eliminate the only real leverage American employees have in the job market – the option to leave and find better pay, benefits, and workplace conditions elsewhere.
In a recent report, the Economic Policy Institute found that noncompetes, along with secret no-poach agreements among franchises, are one of the major factors that has contributed to shrinking the paychecks of the typical American worker by roughly $10 per hour over the last 40 years. These clandestine agreements among franchise owners – which directly violate antitrust laws – made it impossible for an employee at one franchise to seek employment at another, further suppressing wages and stagnating the job market.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office began investigating these unlawful agreements in 2019 and found that over 200 companies with franchises in the state had some form of a no-poach clause. Many of them were national franchises, which meant this impacted tens of millions of workers across the country – so Attorney General Ferguson took action, threatening legal action unless these franchises eliminated their no-poach agreements nationwide. Over the course of a year, many of them did. Additionally, Ferguson’s leadership led the Washington Legislature to pass a law that voids noncompetes for employees who earn less than $100,000 annually.
This is incredible progress for workers in Washington state, but your action is urgently needed to fully eliminate the unlawful use of noncompete and no-poach clauses nationwide. The Biden administration has shown a willingness to address this critical issue, but we must take action now to urge our lawmakers in Congress to step up now to defend America’s workers.
We’re counting on 5,000 grassroots activists to join us before midnight tonight – but we’re still missing your name: Sign our petition now to demand Congress ban excessive and abusive noncompete agreements.
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