Trust-Busting: Labors Forgotten Cause

  • C. T. Bogus
  • New Labor Forum, December 2016, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/1095796016681557

Trust-Busting: Labor's Forgotten Cause

What is it about?

The article argues for a paradigm shift in antitrust law -- that rather than being concerned exclusively with consumer welfare, antitrust should be concerned with consolidated corporate power -- and why this matters to American workers.

Why is it important?

At present, antitrust law is concerned exclusively with consumer welfare, which is defined as total industry output and consumer prices (which are inextricably linked). Despite a venerable history to the contrary, antitrust today ignores the political and sociological implications of corporate giantism and industry consolidation. In its fixed focus on consumer welfare, antitrust law all but ignores worker welfare. Modern antitrust doctrine leads to fewer employers, lower wages, and diminished freedom for workers. It also increases the political power of corporations, which is used to weaken collective bargaining. Antitrust reform is, therefore, vital to the labor movement.


Prof. Carl T. Bogus
Roger Williams University

Because they were deeply concerned about consolidated governmental power, the Framers wrote a Constitution that divided power among three branches of government with a carefully calibrated system of checks and balances. They created an independent judiciary to be guardians of the system. But what about the dangers of consolidated corporate power? The Framers of our major antitrust laws expected regulators and courts to use those laws to guard against the many consequences of consolidated corporate power. Their vision has been abandoned by an antitrust fraternity that values only low consumer prices at the expense of many other values. As was the case during the Progressive Era, antitrust needs to become a wide public debate. And for both its own self-interest as well as the national interest, the labor movement must become interested in antitrust reform.

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The following have contributed to this page: Prof. Carl T. Bogus